Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How To Make Your Husband Really Mad: A Decoupage Adventure

If you follow my Facebook page, you know the hubby and I have been in the middle of a huge remodel that encompassed almost the entire second floor of our home.  It included a complete gutting of my workroom and the hubby's office, removal of a wall to let the light flow in, and renovation of a long stairway that we now like to joke "leads to heaven".  This is the story of how that all went very wrong.

Although the hubby is an electrician and I'm not a stranger to construction, I'll admit I was naive about the extent of what we'd endure for almost a month.  I figured we'd cut out the wall with a hacksaw, move some outlets and light fixtures around, and Shazam! the remodel would be finished.  In fact, I admit I relentlessly nagged my poor hubby to get started, since I was sure he could bang out the remodel in about a week.  Righhht.

While hubby labored to remove old wall coverings, tear up flooring and refinish our stairway in hardwood, I puttered happily along in what was left of my demolished workroom, refinishing some old file cabinets and creating messages from wood letters I hoped would inspire me during periods of lagging creativity. The words "Dream", "Imagine" and "Create" were going to adorn the walls, and although I was pretty sure my efforts at decoupage would be successful, I had no idea how I was going to actually attach 18 wood letters from the alphabet to the walls.  I bullied forward, figuring I'd jump that hurdle later.

I found the letters at Michael's craft store and was pleased at how inexpensive they were (most were only a dollar or two each).  However, by the time I added fancy printed papers to my shopping cart, a couple bottles of decoupage goop, some colorful paint and foam brushes, I checked out nearly a hundred bucks poorer.  I should have known then I was headed down a hard path.

The first step was to paint the sides of the letters to match the pretty papers I wanted to decoupage to the wood.  Other than getting paint on all ten fingers and on one of my toenails, this part of the project went pretty smooth:

Next, I was supposed to place the wood pieces face down on the back of the pretty papers and trace around them.  I followed by cutting out the shapes with sharp scissors, and then noticed I'd left pencil marks on the sides of most of the freshly-painted letters.  I could hear the hubby swearing at the carpet he was removing from the hallway, but I pushed fearlessly on, knowing the next step in my project would be the "fun part."  I hurried and got my foam brush ready.

I applied decoupage goop to the front of each letter.  The instructions said that to avoid warping and bubbles in my finished project, I needed to apply a  healthy coat of decoupage, and I swear I followed the instructions.  Once the wood was coated, I was supposed to place the paper cutout on top of the goop, smooth out all the bumps and squiggles and "let it dry thoroughly." The manufacturer of the goop promised (via videos they produced on YouTube) that if I coated the surface with enough product, made sure the paper was smooth and let it dry thoroughly, the result would be "bubble-free".  I can definitely say I used enough product.  It was all over my hands, my worktable and even in my hair, which unfortunately I didn't notice until [much] later.  I can also say with certainty that I let it dry thoroughly, because it was at least 90 degrees in my workroom and I left to cook dinner and do a few loads of wash.

It was now time for the next step.  I reviewed my handiwork and happily noted there was not a bubble or bump in sight.  The instructions said to apply another healthy coat to the surface.  Okie-dokie now, I was cooking with gas!  Forty-five minutes later I finished slathering on the second coat and stepped back to admire my work.  Boy-Oh-Boy, I said to myself, my part of the remodel is going good!

And then I saw them . . .
Giant, dime-sized humps on the surface of my letters.  The big "D" in "Dream" had a particularly nasty bubble and the "C" in "Create" looked amateurish.  The really horrific part was that since I had let it dry thoroughly, it was going to be next-to-impossible to get  the bubbles out.

Well, despite the manufacturer's assurances there would be no bubbles, I noticed they had recorded yet another handy little YouTube video about how to correct the problem.  Nearly three hours later, I finished popping all the bubbles with a straight pin and injecting even more decoupage goop underneath the surface, and finished off the entire mess by mashing it all down with my thumb and applying another healthy coat of goop.  By now, the swearing coming from my husband's area was nothing compared to the distressing noises I was making.

The next morning, I padded into my demolished workroom in a fuzzy robe and slippers, ready to hurl the whole mess outside with the rest of the construction debris, but lo and behold, I couldn't believe my eyes. The letters looked almost perfect, as long as I squinted just a tiny bit and didn't look too close. Yes, the letters were keepers!

And now I've reached the title of my whole story: "How to Make your Husband Really Mad".  Looking back, I honestly don't know what my hubby thought I was going to do with all those letters.  Maybe he thought I was going to arrange them haphazardly on a bookshelf, or maybe he thought I was going to leave them on my worktable as some kind of crummy decoration.  I now know it was clear to me (but not to him) that I was going to attach all 18 letters to to the freshly painted walls in my workroom. 

So I went out and I bought some of those Scotch-brand double-sided sticky squares--you know, the kind you use to hang paintings?  I covertly borrowed my hubby's level from the garage and drew light little pencil lines on the wall so I could make sure everything was straight.  And then, I started sticking the letters on my freshly-painted walls, and as I worked, I noticed that Scotch-brand double-sided sticky squares sure do stick good!  I was humming along, already done with "Create" and "Imagine" and right down to the wire with the last four letters in "Dream", when the hubby walked in to see what I was doing.

I gotta' tell you, he nearly had a stroke.  I don't remember the entire conversation, but I do recall him saying things about how I'd ruined everything and we'd have to re-texture the walls when I got tired of the letters, and many other nasty hubby-like comments.  He never remotely said anything about how nice the letters looked or how pretty the paper was.  I also remember that his face turned the color of a bright purple beet and I decided it was time to head to the fridge for a cold one.

Somebody needs to let the Scotch-brand people know how good their sticky squares are, because I found that just the tiniest bit really makes those letters stick like crazy to a new paint job.  And somebody should also remind my hubby that the teeny-weeny bit of damage I did is nothing compared to all the woodwork the carpet guy destroyed or the fact I can't get the dang paint from the upstairs hallway out of my hair and my pedicure is destroyed.

So if you've been thinking about decoupaging anything, take my advice and buy a picture or a mirror instead.  They don't come with bubbles or bumps and you can hang them with one little ol' nail that the hubby can fill with spackle when you move out.  Or when he moves out.  Whatever.

Until next time, Happy Stitchin'!  xoxo -- Melanie


  1. oh my...I've always been an apartment dweller, so I have to be careful what I put on my wall. Like you, however, if it were my place, I doubt I would have thought what you did was a problem...all in the eye of the beholder, huh? :0) Your letters do look pretty and when/if they come down, it will probably be time to repaint anyway! poor hubby...

  2. Hah, Suz, I agree! I thought the whole thing looked wonderful. Anyway, it's done now . . . :)

  3. Oh my gosh you made me laughhhhhh this sounds exactly like my hubby would react! tooooooo funny.

  4. Dear N.C.Fabric Junkie, it surely IS funny looking back on it. Hubby still scowls every time he comes into my workroom. :)