The book lover’s furniture

Purple’s distant poor cousin. Is that a shade? Ought to be since that is the exact colour that my chest of drawer was. IT had long ago been made from wood salvaged from a double-storeyed Cottage style bunker bed that I had in some moment of insanity gotten constructed. Do not ask what the poor cousin was doing on the cottage walls in the first place – at that time it seemed like an interesting colour.

We are a spoilt lot in India. You have people to do jobs for you – the painter being one of them. But if you have a single piece to be redone, there is no way you’d find someone to do that for you. So we set out to do it ourselves. First thought was to repaint it with some interesting murals. We scraped the old cousin, and laid the remains to rest. Then, we set out to paint. The base coat was fine but things got out of hand when we came to the tiny brush to paint on the designs. I am not artist. I was thrown out of the fine-arts class back in school, so you can imagine how that went.

We brooded for a while. And then the word decoupage stared at me from a craft site. I had to beg the elder one for letting me use three of the harry potter books from the series (which by the way were mine originally). He relented on the promise of replacement of the ones sacrificed plus two more to calm him. It is, after all, disturbing to see them come apart.

And then we set out on a month long job. A month mostly due to our abysmally low speed, and the fact that we kept finding chapters that required a re-read. It was Harry Potter and it always screams for a re-read. Cannot help it. The boys helped by spraying water on the sheets before giving to me to paste on. So there I was stretching my hand out to the boys for the next sheet, and none was handed over. I turned to look and they were engrossed. ‘Just one minute, mum. This is an interesting bit.’ And I’d wait.

Since an awful lot (ahem) people have asked how I did this, I decided to put this up on the blog:

1.First, fevicol was diluted with water and a thin coat was applied. Then sheets (after moistening) were applied. It sheet was flattened using an old credit card to ensure that no bubbles sneaked up later.

2. Once this layer was dried. I applied three coats of the fevicol mixture. I am a paranoid person. Hence I overdo. If you feel that the paper is sufficiently sealed, stop after two.

3. Now take an interior polyurethane varnish. I took glossy because the paint shop guy said matte was more ‘technical.’ I have no idea whether that is true or he just cleared his glossy varnish stocks thanks to me.

4. Take a fine grade sandpaper and sand down the fevicoled surface. Gently. It will look opaque. Breathe.

5. Apply varnish using a brush. Keep some turpentine oil handy to dip the brush once you have applied one layer. You do not want a new brush for each layer.

6. This takes about a day to dry up. Sand it down and repeat the varnish layer. Now, depending on what you are working with, apply the layers. Say if you are using it on floor (yes you can) the more the varnish layers, the better. If it is some kind of an artwork for the wall, then I guess you could stop at the first layer.

7. If it is a chest of drawers you are working with, make sure that you do not go over board (like me) and have trouble fitting the drawers back thanks to the thick layers!

8. The knobs were made using images off the Internet. But if you print them from normal printer, on to normal pear, it would bleed the moment you put fevicol mixture. Solution: Iron on transfer paper. Download images, resize according to knob size, flip them and print on iron on transfer paper. Trim them and iron them on to the blank end papers of the book used. That way there would be no colour difference. Now put the on to the knobs like you did earlier.

9. I sealed of the bottom with a strip of wood (pre cut, easily available) called corner/beading. Polished it using vinegar, rusted iron and tea bags. This I did just to ensure that the enthusiastic mopping of the floor doesn’t pry the paper loose.

10. the interiors of the drawers were done using pages from a dictionary and the title pages of the books( the boys insisted)

There you have it. A mad chest of drawers! Now we just have to figure out who gets to use it.

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