LEARNING TO CUT
The best scissors to use are cuticle type with a short curved blade. They should be very sharp and should be used only for cutting reasonably thin paper. Straight blade scissors are helpful in cutting away excess margins around your prints.
The best way to hold your scissors, for most people, is with your thumb and middle finger bracing the scissors with your index finger.
The curved blades should point outward to your right. This keeps the points out of your way as you cut. Hold them comfortably and rest your elbow on the arm of a chair or on a table.
Hold the paper in your left hand light and loose so as not to cramp your wrists. Try not to move your scissors or right hand except to open and close the blades. Turn the paper with left hand, back and forth as you cut the print. Feed the paper gently into the scissors-don’t try to push it.
Of course, if you are left handed you would work in reverse of the above instructions.
Practice with a plain piece of paper. Try to cut from underneath the paper so that you see what you are actually cutting. Sometimes you have to cut from the top to keep from tearing your print. This will become easier to decide as you practice.
Cut the inside parts of the print first. On the right side puncture a hole into the part to be cut away then work from underneath.
With a pencil draw lines to connect parts that would dangle and make the print hard to handle and easy to tear. Cut within these bridges before cutting around the outside. The bridges will be cut away when you are ready to glue your print down.
The best way to perfect your cutting is to practice until you are comfortable with it. Try cutting out old flower catalogs or magazine ads. These do not work well to use for a decoupage project but are good to practice with. The best prints to use are good quality wrapping paper, greeting cards that are not too thick or embossed, prints made for decoupage.
Before cutting the print you plan to use it must be sealed. This gives the paper more stability as you cut and keeps some colors from bleeding. This is done with one or two light spray coats of clear Acrylic.
For working under glass the print is sealed on the back . If you are working with a computer printed piece it should be sealed on the front and back as the ink tends to run. For projects on wood, metal, ceramic or other solid surfaces the print is sealed on the front side. It doesn’t take long for the light spray coats of sealer to dry.
When your prints are sealed and cut you are ready to plan your design.
PREPARING A CLEAR GLASS PLATE
Thoroughly wash your plate with dish detergent such a Dawn, Ivory etc. or with soap. (Dishwasher Detergent does not work well.) Rinse well and rinse again with water and vinegar to remove any soap residue or oil from your hands. Let air dry or dry with a lint free towel. Keep plate wrapped in plastic wrap or paper towels until you are ready to begin your design.
On the right (front) side of the plate place prints and move around until you have a design that pleases you. You may want to cut apart some pieces to fit the way you wish it to look.
When you have your design set stick the pieces to the plate with a small piece of Handi-tak . Then trace around the edges with a grease pencil, china marker or sharpened crayon Do not trace too close to the edges of your print since you don’t want marks on them. If you have many small pieces it can help to number the back of the print with a pencil and mark a matching number on the plate in the traced area.
Remember, this is done on the right side of your plate. I find that it helps to use tracing paper and while the prints are still stuck to the plate with the Handi-tak to trace around the edge of the plate and the design patterns. Then transfer the prints to the tracing paper and use this as a guide when gluing.
Now you are ready to glue. Have a container of water handy and pieces of Handi-wrap or a lint free rag. I use a couple of wet pieces to clean my hands between handling the pieces of my prints.
GLUING PRINTS DOWN
Spread the glue, in this case, the Fabric Stiffener, on the area to be worked on. It is better to put more glue than not enough. Work the glue back and forth with your fingers to eliminate as many air bubbles as possible.
Start with your foreground pieces and place one at a time, carefully, onto the glue. If you need to check placement check to see that the piece is in the proper place where you had traced around it. Try not to move the print around too much. Pat your print lightly into the glue then take a damp cloth and again pat the back of your print gently removing air bubbles. If one is caught in the middle of the print try to roll it toward the edge with your wet finger or cloth.
remove all the glue between the print and the glass. This would result in shiny spots. The milky appearance of the glue will dry clear.
Always glue one part at a time. It is better to cut your print into smaller pieces where possible. Larger ones are harder to handle and you can end up with wrinkles and air bubbles trapped in your work. After a piece is glued down go over it with wet fingers to make sure all air bubbles have been removed and the edges are down tight.
If you find air bubbles after the piece has dried use a pin or sharp edge such as a razor blade or Exacto knife to pierce the bubble. Add glue and lightly rub with your finger to force the glue under the paper. The trapped air should disappear.
When all your prints are glued down try to take the excess glue from the clear part of the glass with a damp cloth. Be careful not to lift the edges of your print. Now let your piece dry for at least 8 hours.
If there are heavy lumps or spots of glue on the glass carefully remove them with a damp cloth around your finger or a cotton swab. You may need a little vinegar on the swab. Again be careful around the edges of your prints. Using a piece of sponge lightly coat the entire surface with the glue especially around the edges of the prints. Leave a film not any big blobs. This will seal the surface and prevent run-unders when you apply the background paint. Two or three light coats are better than one heavy one. Let dry between coats. It doesn’t take very long unless there is a lot of humidity in the air.
The Krylon spray can be used as a sealer but it takes several coats. I find that the glue works better for me.
CHOOSING AND APPLYING THE BACKGROUND
When the sealer is thoroughly dry the background can be applied. Lightly sponge two to three light coats of the acrylic paint over the entire back of the plate. Put as many coats on as needed to be completely opaque. Let dry 2 to 4 hours between coats. If the paint feels cold it is still not dry. Dry overnight after final coat.
For other projects torn pieces of rice paper or metallic foil papers can be applied as a background or gold leaf can be applied. Bronzing powders can also be used when mixed with an oil-based glaze.
Apply 3 or 4 light spray coats of the Krylon clear acrylic over the background paint letting each coat dry well. Sign your name and date on the back with a felt marker. Clean the front of the plate and remove any glue that might have come from your fingers.
These plates can be used for food but need to be very carefully cleaned. Never use hot running water or soak the plate.
Sit back and admire your work!!!!