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How To Decoupage with Tissue Paper using Clear Coat as Adhesive

I love to decoupage all sorts of paper onto furniture. I have used everything from wallpaper to wrapping paper, you could even use a poster! I found some amazing tissue papers and immediately wanted to use them on a piece. I use a different decoupage application technique depending on the weight or thickness of the paper. With this technique, I will use a clear coat as my glue!

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  1. Dixie Belle Satin Clear Coat

  2. Reycycled Tissue Paper

  3. Hard Rubber Brayer

  4. Soft Rubber Brayer

  5. Mixed Media Silicone Brush

When decoupaging with thinner papers like tissue paper onto furniture, I use Dixie Belle Satin Clear Coat instead of Mod Podge. Products like Mod Podge are water-based adhesives that have a fast reactivation when moisture is reintroduced. This means that when you go to apply your final clear coat on the whole piece, it will reactive the Mod Podge underneath and cause bubbles! This won’t happen when using this clear coat because the reactivation time is so much longer.

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I chose the Cowgirl Ephemera 18lb tissue paper from My personal preference for this application is a thinker tissue, like the 18lb, because it won’t tear as easily compared to lighter/thinner tissue paper.

To begin, I have already applied mouldings and have this piece fully painted in its all over paint color. I used WoodUBend mouldings, the lion and keyholes I cast using moulds from ReDesign with Prima and a tricolor blend of Dixie Belle Paint in Caviar, Midnight Sky, and Gravel Road. I have not put any clear topcoats on this piece yet, that step will come after the decoupage and any other finishing details. 

Here are my steps to Decoupage Tissue Paper with Clear Coat

1) Choose The Paper Placement

Cut out the bulk from the tissue paper. Just a quick rough cut so it’s easier to see where you need to place it. Then hold it up in place and use your finger to run a crease in the paper where it meets any edges, indicating where you would cut later. It’s best to get as much bulk off of the paper as possible before we actually apply it.

My tissue paper had a face, so I was careful to make sure part of her face wasn’t on the edge of a drawer or anything. Just look and make sure your pattern doesn’t have any awkward places like an eyeball that you wouldn’t want to be halved.

2) Cut Paper To Fit

Once you have your placement chosen, use painters tape to keep the tissue paper in place. With an Exacto knife, start removing as much paper as you can that isn’t needed. I cut right up against the mouldings as a guideline. Take your time and go slow so you don’t cause any rips or make a miscut.

3) Decoupage Application

I prefer Dixie Belle Clear Coat in Satin. It goes on with a white haze so you can see right where you are putting it and then will dry completely clear. It also has a longer open life compared to Gator Hide so you have a little more time to work.

Focusing on one small area at a time, apply a generous layer of clear coat. Be sure to get it into all the crevices around any of the details of your piece. Press the paper into the clear coat.

When paper gets wet, it will stretch and become more fragile. This is why you press the paper in. If you rub or push the paper at all it will warp and possibly tear.

This is why I like to use a brayer that is hard and also one that has a softer silicone finish. A brayer is a rolling pin tool that will not cause any friction while helping to press out any bubbles or wrinkles in the tissue paper. I also use a rubber brush to press the edges into the creases of my moulding.

Once I am satisfied with one section, I move on to the next starting with a generous coat of Satin Clear Coat, then gently pressing the paper into place all while using my tools to work out any flaws.

You can see in the video below that I undercut my tissue paper. In this situation you have two options, You can either piece in a small section of tissue to cover the area, or paint it in. On this piece, I decided to do both since I will be painting around the tissue to finish out the look.

If you create any tiny tears in the paper, you can just press those back in and after everything is dry you can disguise it with some paint if you need to.

4) Finishing

Don’t overwork your paper when it is wet. If you notice any loose edges after everything is completely dry you can go in and do touch-ups by applying a little clear coat under and over that edge and pressing it in.

I decoupaged the tissue paper over the front of a chest of drawers in a solid piece. If you need to cut your tissue at all after introducing the clear coat, first, let your tissue dry completely, then go in and cut. I use a sharp blade to cut the lines for the drawer openings which created a perfectly smooth edge.

After everything is dry and you are ready to do your all-over clear coat to finish your piece, it is safe to paint over the decoupaged tissue paper using your preferred topcoat technique.

Check Out My Video!

After adding my paper, I painted details, used Gilding Wax in Black, Decor Wax in Eternal, and used Dixie Belle Flat Clear Coat over the entire piece to finish it. 

This Spanish inspired chest was a joy to work on! Would you ever have thought to used Satin Clear Coat as a decoupage adhesive?!

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