Sniffing glue.
August 24, 2006 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I have old magazines on very thin, cheap, disintegrating paper. How best to decoupage them to a wooden surface without the reverse side showing through?

I have done decoupage in the past, with varying success. My previous experience with images on a similar paper (in an art piece) had the reverse print showing through after being varnished. That was the desired effect. But how to prepare and finish this piece so that doesn't happen in this project? How can I best prep the wood and more importantly, is there a layer I can put on the paper pre-varnishing that will prevent showthrough? There are many decoupage sites out there, but not too much in the way of answering this question that I can find.

I don't have easy access to a photocopier or scanner/printer, and would prefer to avoid that as the piece will be "found objects" and I'd lose the nice tattered edges of the source material!
posted by methylsalicylate to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you might try prepping the wood by applying coats of gesso, which is a thin, acrylic white paint that artists use to prime canvases. It's available all over the place and is archival. You may want to sand it down between coats, but that may not be necessary. This gesso coating may prevent the acidic qualities of the wood from eating your paper, but I'm not sure. As far as making the magazines transparent, I don't know that you really can. However, you might try painting a layer of the gesso on the back of the paper and see what happens. As far as "varnishing", I recommend using gloss acrylic medium, which is archival and reversible with water. You can get matte medium, too, but I find that it's not as good a glue as the glossy, for some reason.

If you want some of the wood to show through, then you can prime the wood with this acrylic medium first. But I recommend you test test test before using your good images. You may find, though, that you like the show-through effect.

You do not need to thin either the gesso or the acrylic medium. I hope this helps!
posted by Lockjaw at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2006

Can you expiriment a bit? Your post reminded me of those sprays you can spray on paper to make them transparent, such as this one. I don't know if the explanation is correct, but it says:

"How the spray works: paper is made up of a fine network of intermeshing cellulose fibres with lots of microscopic pores full of air. The spray fills these pores with liquid, creating a pathway for the light to pass through and making the paper translucent."

Going by that you should be able to flood those holes with a white liquid that would plug light from going through them. Apply it to the back of the paper and seal it in on top. The white material will need to be small enough to fit into those spaces though, and preventing it from hitting the ink on the other side would be a trick. I'm wondering if sealing the front first might work.
posted by jwells at 12:13 PM on August 24, 2006

Why not photocopy the articles and decoupage the copies? You could use a color copier and archival paper if you liked. Or scan them and print the images.
posted by LarryC at 12:18 PM on August 24, 2006

Best answer: I love docoupage and one of my favorite things to use is Look Magazines from the 1960s. If you don't want the type to show through you must use a non water-based adhesive and avoid gluing onto a white or lightly colored surface. Anything with water will soak the paper and reaveal the illustrations on the other side. In my experience Mod Podge is the best. A coat of it on the front of your cut-outs will seal the pictures and give them a nice gloss. I made decoupage coasters a year ago using this glue and they have yet to wrinkle or grow dull.

Gluing on top of anything white will make type on the back of your illustrations stand out just the same as if they were lighted from behind. If the wood is a light color I would suggest sanding lightly and painting or staining the wood a dark color. This will make your pictures less clear, but it does make them look older and more mysterious instantly.

Have fun!
posted by Alison at 12:36 PM on August 24, 2006

I find that having black paper underneath a newspaper or magazine page makes them appear less transparent.
posted by JJ86 at 12:48 PM on August 24, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks Alison... now to see if Mod Podge is available in the UK. (related: what about rubber cement?)
posted by methylsalicylate at 2:20 AM on August 25, 2006

I don't know about rubber cement. It might be worth an experiment. Mod Podge resembles regular white glue more than rubber cement.
posted by Alison at 10:27 AM on August 25, 2006

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