Using unusual materials Textured paper
For a smart and sophisticated surface use simple embossed letters or motifs on a beautifully hand-crafted sheet of paper. You can order an embossing press with your own initials or customized image, and the advantage of heavy handmade paper is that it has some texture and thickness. Another simple method of adding texture to paper is to use a sewing machine to punch lines across its surface, but take the thread out of the machine first! The results resemble punched metalwork and can be cut to fit areas such as cupboard door panels.
There are numerous types of specialist handmade paper on the market, many of which have beautiful and unusual textures, while others resemble stone or granite. They are made from recycled paper, often with a scattering of plant pieces, flower petals or onion skins. Some are really lovely, and make wonderful decorative material. Although they appear fragile, they are actually quite strong. For protection on a table surface, however, the sheets will need laying under glass.
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Pleated or folded paper can be used behind glazed cupboard doors as a less-expensive alternative to fabric. Use a crisp, smooth paper or thin card and mark with tiny dots along the top and back edge of the paper. The dots need not be equally spaced but must line up on both edges. Fold on alternate sides, following the marked fold lines. Use a bone letter opener to crease the fold lines. Attach the folded sheets to the timber frame of a glazed door using tacks.
Paper is an extremely versatile material available in a huge range of different colours, textures and weights. Here, reproduced antique type-printed pap&r has been used to cover the lampshade and the wallpaper. Be bold and create unusual effects by experimenting with various different types of paper on different surfaces.
Paper can be applied directly to a smooth, clean surface using PVA glue, diluted 11 with water. A large sheet of newsprint or printed wallpaper could be used across a table top, for example, or if you don’t wish to paste directly onto the table, cut a piece of plywood or MDF to the same size and wrap it in the paper. Seal the finished surface with the PVA solution. Alternatively, assemble smaller pieces of plywood, cut to the size of a standard ceramic tile, each covered in a different coloured or printed paper, and lay the paper-covered ‘tiles’ together on a recessed table top. Protect the surface with a sheet of glass.
Maps are fun to use on or over furniture. Look for old examples in second-hand postshops, or huge, brand-new, brightly coloured world maps. These are great for children’s rooms or more informal, relaxed spaces. Again, use diluted PVA, both to stick down the paper and to seal its surface.
Plain papers can be dyed, painted, stained, marbled or printed on before being used. Children’s paintings, pasted onto the sides and base of a simple wooden box and then sealed, would make a fun addition to a playroom. Use acrylic paints on the paper as they will not mix with the glue.
The inside of plain pine chests can be given a lift by using a lining paper inside the lid and in the box itself. Wallpapers with old or contemporary designs are excellent, as the paper is quite tough and the selection of patterns available is wide.
A clever way of brightening up and completely transforming a fairly dull chest of drawers or small seed chest would be to cover all the drawer fronts with paper. Take a pictorial scene toile de Jouy wallpaper would be a good start – and cut the pattern into a grid, one for each drawer. You will need to allow sufficient paper to turn around the sides of each drawer front. Stripes or tartan papers would be equally effective. For a children’s room, for example, alternate different bold colours. Remove drawer knobs first. Apply the paper using PVA and make sure the surface is smooth and wrinkle-free. After leaving the paper enough time to dry (and taking care not to tear it), carefully screw the knobs back on again.
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