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FAQ's - Using Napkins for Decoupage


Can I use any type of paper for decoupage?

The answer to this question is an absolute yes!  I have used napkins, rice paper, soft decoupage paper from ITD, scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, paper from notepads.  Your choices are endless - just use your imagination.

Do I need to prepare a napkin in any way before using it for decoupage?

Napkins are usually 2 or 3 ply.  You should separate the layers before using the napkin image.  The layer that you will use is a fairly translucent image and it is quite fragile.  Don't throw away the white layers as they can also be used for decoupage or simply used to clear up a little mess.

Why do I need to separate the napkin layers?

If you don't separate the layers, they may do so on their own when you start to glue them down.  You will end up with a large mess that may ruin your project.

Is there any easy way to separate the napkin layers?

Separate the image from the napkin.  Lay it upside down on the table.  Using a piece of tape, press 1/2 of the piece onto the napkin.  Leave the other half free and use it like a pull tab.  Pull the tape off of the napkin and the resulting hole will make it easy to remove that layer.  Repeat if the napkin is 3 ply.

If the napkin is translucent, won't I see all the background work through it?

Yes, you will.  To prevent that, I generally apply white Gesso to the area underneath the napkin section that I am using.  Make sure its dry before applying the napkin.

Can I use anything other than Gesso under the napkin?

You can use white acrylic paint but I prefer Gesso as you can blend it softly into the background if you choose to carry it beyond the image.

Do I always need to undercoat with white when using napkins?

No, you don't but you will get an entirely different result without it.  It really depends on the look that you are trying to achieve.  I have used both methods depending on the project and have been pleased with both looks.

Why should I tear an image out of a napkin rather than cut it?

When you cut a napkin and glue it to your project, it leaves a very distinct edge.  When a napkin piece is torn and you apply glue, the edge literally disappears into the background.  However, in order for this to happen the background paint colour on your piece must be the same or very close to the  background colour of the napkin.

What is the easiest way to separate an image from the whole napkin?

Use a dampened round water brush or a paint pen to go around the image and then just pull it from the whole napkin.  Leave some border around the image so that it doesn't rip when separating.

Is it more difficult to work with napkins than with other decoupage papers?

Because the separated napkin image is fragile and rips easily, it can be a little more challenging to work with napkins but working carefully ensures a gorgeous result.

Does using the water technique for placing napkins always ensure no creases? (See YouTube video for process)

In my experience, there is no process that completely eliminates wrinkles and bubbles every time.  Having said that, the water technique has only failed me once out of many, many, many applications.  I blame that one time on me being in a rush and failing to make sure that I got all of the bubbles and creases out before I actually placed the napkin on the surface - so, my bad!

Why would I choose napkins over other types of paper?

There are a number of reasons why you might choose napkins over other types of paper.  Since most napkins have four full images you can do multiple projects with one napkin.  That of course, makes it very economical.  There are a multitude of napkin patterns and images.  The choice is endless.  If you love doing holiday projects (Christmas) or seasonal ones, napkins abound.  I use all sorts of different papers but started out using napkins and go back to them on a regular basis.

Can I use napkins on any surface?

Most surfaces require some type of priming before napkins are put on.  I use Gesso.  I have used napkins on wood, canvas, terra cotta, Styrofoam, glass, rocks and paper.