Elmer's Glue Decoupage

I’ve been working on a project for several days.  Not that it was difficult and should have taken that long, but I finished it once, didn’t like it and started over.  It doesn’t make me happy when I feel like throwing something away, but it does when I can just go right over the top of it.  Evidence of failure – gone. If you’ve ever done decoupage, you probably used Mod Podge or something like it.  If not, you might be wondering why we just stepped back to the sixties.  Decoupage is basically gluing pictures or fabric on an object and then covering it with more glue.  Mod Podge is the glue.  It was created 40 years ago and is short for Modern Decoupage.  If that’s not enough information for you, check out the Mod Podge website.

I’ve used Mod Podge many times.  It works great.  However, I heard you could use diluted Elmer’s Glue instead.  Sometimes you don’t want to buy a specialty product for one project, so I wanted to give it a try.  It seems like we always have several half-used bottles lying around.

I used Elmer’s Glue-All.  School glue might work, but I didn’t test it.  I mixed three parts glue with one part water in a plastic cup.  I did the project twice with about 8 ounces total, and had quite a bit left over.

Pot 1
Pot 1

Then I spent WAY too long cutting pictures and words out of old magazines.  I spread the glue mixture on a terra cotta flower pot, and stuck the pictures on, smoothing down with my fingers.  I used a sponge brush to apply the glue, which is basically a sponge on a stick, but a paint brush would work too.  I continued all the way around until the pot was covered.  It looked ridiculous.  You couldn’t tell what any of the pictures were.  I was now the proud owner of preschool art.

Pot 2
Pot 2

Here’s the good news…you can pretty much decoupage over anything, including other decoupage.  The only exception that immediately comes to mind is anything printed using an inkjet printer.  It will smear the ink. 

The glue mixture did work well.  I think it’s thinner than Mod Podge, so the pictures wrinkled a little, but it wasn’t a bad look on the clay pot.  But I decided since I was experimenting I would try fabric this go around.

I cut some fabric scraps into 1 inch by 2 inch rectangles.  I used the same procedure as the paper, slightly overlapping the fabric pieces as I went around the pot.

Pot 3
Pot 3

When it was completely covered, I went over the whole thing with a layer of the glue mixture. 

Pot 4
Pot 4

I let that dry overnight, then realized it needed yellow fabric stars, so I added those and gave it another coat.  I waited a few hours for that to dry and gave it one last slather of glue.  If you keep the unused glue mixture covered between coats, it won’t dry out.

The verdict:  you can use Elmer’s Glue to decoupage.   The finish seems less shiny than Mod Podge, but I like it.  A spray of clear laquer will help protect it, but you’ll still want to keep it out of the weather.    

When the end of the school year rolls around and your kid brings home that half-empty bottle, give it a try.  Cover something ugly.  If you’re not happy with it, cover it again.  If you still don’t like it, it was already ugly anyway.

Pot 5
Pot 5