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Decoupage and Antique a Thrift Shop Lamp: Cheap Decorating Craft

Updated on May 9, 2017

Decoupaged, antique thrift shop lamp

For a country cottage/shabby chic room, this old birdhouse lamp was perfect.
For a country cottage/shabby chic room, this old birdhouse lamp was perfect. | Source

Thrift Shop Lamp Decoupaged and Antiqued

You can get a cheap one at any mega-store for around $15, but it'll look mass manufactured and not be a very exciting. If you have an evening to spare, for the same amount or less you can convert a thrift shop lamp into a unique, hand-crafted item that will brighten up any corner of the room even when it's off.

If your style is shabby chic, rustic cottage, old-fashioned country or French provincial, and you like your décor to look like it's been weathered and loved through the ages, then it's the imperfections that give it character-- so you don't have to worry about getting everything perfect. You can pull this off no matter what your skill level.


Papers for decoupage

scrapbook paper sets are perfect for decoupage projects
scrapbook paper sets are perfect for decoupage projects | Source

Supplies You Will Need

I started with this birdhouse lamp from a thrift shop, it was under $5. It was too babyish as it was, but for the country cottage room it was going into, the birdhouse shape fit the theme. The great thing about this project is that you can do the same technique to just about anything else-- a cigar box for storage, an old shelf, a flower pot, a cabinet door or a nightstand. It's up to you, it's just a great technique to use.

You will also need PVA glue, like Elmer's Glue. Now usually Modge Podge is the preferred decoupage medium, and you can use it if you want, however for this project I wanted to use glue to 1) keep it cheap and 2) for a bit of customization (we'll get to that later).

Other supplies include:

  • ruler
  • pencil
  • scissors or paper cutter
  • scrap paper
  • primer
  • old paint brushes
  • old containers for mixing
  • a clear coat sealer product to protect your finished work (optional)



What's your favorite 'imperfect' style

Which of these decor styles that feature aged, weathered, rustic or imperfect looking items do you like best?

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Priming a Lamp

Primed & ready
Primed & ready | Source

Preparation

Clean off your lamp well and give it a coat of primer first. If it's all white already you probably won't need it, but if it's a dark or bold color or if it has any designs on it in different colors, they could show through your decoupage paper. Better safe than sorry.

I had some leftover house primer I used, so it didn't cost me a thing. If you don't have any, ask around-- most people probably have some lurking in the garage. If not, don't bother buying a whole half-gallon for this project. Just get a can of spray primer for under $2 at a hardware store.

Let the primer dry thoroughly!

Quick way to make a template

This is the best way to trace over sides and edges to make a template
This is the best way to trace over sides and edges to make a template | Source
Trace your template onto the back of your decorative paper.
Trace your template onto the back of your decorative paper. | Source
Paper trimmers make for nice, straight lines.
Paper trimmers make for nice, straight lines. | Source

Cutting papers to size

The next step is to cut all your decoupage papers to size. If your lamp (or object) has a lot of surfaces, it can be tiring and time-consuming to go back and forth between cutting and pasting, so get all your cutting done up front.

I started with some blank scrap typing paper. I lay it on one side of the lamp, bend it over the edges, and run a pencil up it to give me the shape.

I do this on all sides, then I cut out the blank paper shape. Now I have a template!

Here's a tip: if you don't want to lose track of which template goes with which side of your lamp, then just scribble a note on the paper (such as front, back, left side, right side, bottom, etc).

Lay your template on the back of the scrapbooking paper. Here, I colored the template gray so you can see it. Trace around the template. Then cut out your shapes and set them aside.

Again, you can scribble on the back of your papers which side each section goes on so you won't forget. There were a lot of surfaces to cover with this bird house, so doing that made it a lot easier to follow later when I was putting it all together.

Modge Podge doesn't need thinning; but PVA glue might, depending on the brand.
Modge Podge doesn't need thinning; but PVA glue might, depending on the brand. | Source
One surface at a time. I started working from the bottom up.
One surface at a time. I started working from the bottom up. | Source
I love the discolored edges of this paper so that's the part I chose to use.
I love the discolored edges of this paper so that's the part I chose to use. | Source

Decoupage Technique

Now we decoupage, which is pasting the paper to the surface. This sounds simple, and it is, but it can also get mucked up if you're not careful. The most important thing to remember is that you don't want to put too thick a coat of decoupage medium (glue, or Modge Podge) on because it causes the paper to bubble and wrinkle. Always add medium sparingly-- just enough for the paper to stay in place.

I started by thinning out the glue with just a touch of water-- you don't want to make it watery but you do want it to spread easily. Mix it well.

So choose one surface and brush on your medium to cover it. Then, fan it for about 30 seconds. Trust me, this little tip will save you a lot of time and trouble of trying to get air bubbles out of your paper.

Make sure you put your paper on so corners and edges all meet. Smooth it from one side to the other with your hand or using a brayer (small roller).

Cover all the surfaces in turn the same way until you have completely covered your project with paper.


working my way up
working my way up | Source
For the hole in the birdhouse I just used a craft blade to cut a starburst effect and pushed the little triangles in the hole.
For the hole in the birdhouse I just used a craft blade to cut a starburst effect and pushed the little triangles in the hole.

Keeping it rustic style with torn edges

Tip: I wanted it to keep with that rustic/shabby style, so I tore the edges of some papers and overlapped them. Since I used different papers on each side it gave me a bit of contrast, for a more patchwork feel.

Torn edges look great

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Some Tearing for the Roof As Well

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Waiting 15 minutes between coats can make all the difference.
Waiting 15 minutes between coats can make all the difference. | Source

Sealing Coat with Decoupage Medium

After you glue down all the paper, it's a good idea to let the decoupage medium (in my case, the PVA glue) dry. Some people go right to the top coat but you don't need the excessive moisture causing your papers to bubble.

Just brush one coat of your decoupage medium all over the entire lamp and give it a little while to dry. I find taking the patience to let coats dry in decoupage really makes the difference.


remember a little paint goes a long way; decoupage medium does not change the color, it just makes it translucent.
remember a little paint goes a long way; decoupage medium does not change the color, it just makes it translucent. | Source

Tinting Decoupage Medium

The next step is why I chose to work with PVA glue for this project-- you can tint the glue with some acrylic paint (I chose a golden brown) to give it more of an aged, antiqued look with some discoloration.

You can do the same thing with tinted glaze, but for a little project like this, using PVA glue and acrylic craft paint will sae you a lot of money and give you the same effect.

Mix just a little paint at a time into the glue to tint it, then brush on another coat all over the lamp.


Note the difference in color- this is the cheapest way to tint something with decoupage!
Note the difference in color- this is the cheapest way to tint something with decoupage! | Source
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Sand randomly all over the project.
Sand randomly all over the project. | Source

You could stop there with your decoupaged antique lamp

You don't actually have to go any further, as that alone looks really great.

I wanted to take it to a whole new level. After my coat of tinted glue, I took some plain newspapers and tore off a piece.

I slapped that piece on top of the wet glue and pressed down. I didn't want the piece covered in newsprint, so I only pressed down in a small area.

Wait a few minutes then pull up the newspaper, and part of it sticks. Sometimes it ripps off the decoupage paper. Sometimes it leaves behind just words from the newsprint. Any way you slice it, it looks pretty cool.

I did this on a few separate places. Then I took some sandpaper to that baby!

Scuff it up as little or as much as you like!

Give it another couple of coats of the tinted medium to finish it and let it dry.

Acrylic paint and glue tint

I love that patina-like coloration.
I love that patina-like coloration. | Source

Antiquing with acrylic paint

I gave heavier color of tint to some areas.
I gave heavier color of tint to some areas. | Source
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Finishing touches for your lamp craft

After you let the glue coats dry overnight, you can give it a final coat of acrylic sealer if you like.

Then, find a fitting lampshade. For me, this newsprint looking square shade fit the style and the shape of the birdhouse lamp perfectly!

Once you have the decoupage and antiquing techniques down, there will be no stopping you-- you can decorate a lot of things to recycle them and decorate your home, to give away as gifts, or-- if you really get good-- sell crafts on E-Bay!


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    • Rajkanti Kala profile image

      Anshu Kala 3 years ago from Ahmedabad

      These are interesting articles we can make ourselves. Instead of sitting and getting bored we can create something. It will not give perfection at the very first time but next time, it will be perfect.

    • Jalapeno10 profile image
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      Jalapeno10 3 years ago

      You are so right, Rajkanti Kala. People complain of boredom all the time, they sit watching TV or wasting time when they could be creating. It would be wonderful if more people tried to enjoy creative projects. Thanks for your comment!

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