Introduction: Decoupage Map Stool: an Experiment With Wood Glue

Decoupage is the art of decorating an item using paper or fabric and glue. There are specific types of glue that should be used for decoupage in order to create a good and resilient finish. When I lived in North America I used Modge Podge - a fantastic glue, sealer and finish all in one pot. Unfortunately this isn't available in little ole NZ (or not that I've found!) and I draw the line at shipping art and craft supplies around the world!

Recently I found myself at home for a spell and decided to use the time to clear out some junk. One item I found was a cool old map of Ireland - the homeland of my paternal grandparents - that I couldn't bring myself to throw out. Another was a bunch of manky old stools - like the ones we had in our science labs at high school... a project was born!

Being stuck at home meant using what I had around me, and that wasn't decoupage glue! A hunt in the workshop resulted in three types of PVA - an exterior wood glue, an interior wood glue and some Elmer's school glue. I was good to go :)


Wood glue

Paper map

Wooden top stool

Sanding gear - sand paper, block, sander

Cloth for wiping dust

Paint and paint brush (I used acrylic - again all I had!)

Step 1: Prep Work

The surface you are going to apply the decoupage to needs to be sanded and smooth. The stool I had was a bit rough, so I removed the wooden seat from the frame and sanded both the frame and the seat. The frame had to be hand sanded, being tubular, but I used the sander on the wooden seat.

Once sanded, all surfaces should be brushed and wiped down.

I removed the old bolts and replaced them with new ones that could be done up from the bottom - no holes in my map seat!

Step 2: Decoupage

Lay out your map, and place the seat on it over the bits of the map you want to have showing. Measure out how much extra map you will need to fold up the sides and stick to the bottom of the seat. Cut.

Apply the glue to one surface - I painted it onto the stool - making sure it is even and fully covered. Place the map onto the glue and smooth out bubbles or wrinkles with a credit card. Flip the seat over and cut around the corners in a fan so that they will fold flat around the corners. Apply glue to the side and bottom where it will be in contact with the paper, or paint the glue onto the paper. I tried both and preferred painting the glue onto the paper. Fold the paper firmly over the side and the bottom. Smooth it from the front to the back to avoid wrinkles and bubbles on the edges. Repeat for the corners, gluing and folding each of the fan sections up and over so the paper sits flat against the corner. Repeat until all edges are smoothed onto the seat. Leave to dry. The glue goes on opaque and white, but dries clear (see photos for before and after!)

Once the surface is dry, turn the seat back over and apply another layer of glue over the top of the map to seal and finish the surface. Let dry and repeat at least once more to create a long lasting finish. If you want it to be super smooth, give it a LIGHT sand with super fine sandpaper between coats.

Leave to dry.

Step 3: The Stool

Choose your colour and paint your stool. I used black acrylic from our art cupboard.

I needed two coats to get a reasonable finish and had to be very careful not to scratch it.

Once the paint was dry I applied two coats of wood glue for a hardier shinier finish. You can see in the close up of the leg where I missed putting glue on the first coat - the colour is lighter and much more of a matte finish. Ideally I would have used metal paint and varnish, but needs must and the result was surprisingly good.

Once the glue on both surfaces is completely dry, bolt the seat back on to the frame and enjoy your 'new' stool!

The wood glue worked really well as a decoupage finisher. You are obviously limited to the single type of finish (a kind of satin) and I'm not sure how long it will last - I will update in a year or so to see!

Maps Challenge

Participated in the
Maps Challenge