Applying the Water Decals
This article a second part of tutorial on print transfer with water decals.
Having your design printed and decal prepared you need to make a surface of your furniture ready to action.
IV. Preparing your decal – cutting out
Preparing the decal you can follow one of the two paths: easy or difficult. Like with everything in the life, easy path is less time-consuming and easier in general, but the results are not-so-great at the end of a day. Difficult path takes more time to finish, but the effects you could achieve are worth of trying.
What I mean is – you can make the transfer without any cutting out, but then you leave a vast of unprinted plastic on the surface of your table. And even though the decal is extremely thin and “almost” transparent… well, the “almost” makes a huge difference. Simply – unprinted decal is visible at a certain angle. The more effort you put in cutting your print out, the more authentic your transfer will be.
I always try to cut out the image precisely, and divide it into as many elements as possible, trying to get rid of all transparency I can. I leave very little (approx. 1mm width) margin around printed parts of the decal.
V. Preparing your surface
In this case I will be transferring the print to a top of one of nesting tables. It was previously painted with two Annie Sloan’s chalk paints, gently distressed and varnished.
The last step (varnishing) is most important, especially when working with chalk paints or bare wood – unprotected surfaces are likely to leave dirty marks in contact with water.
My choice of varnish is acrylic Colron’s ‘Interior Lacquer’.
VI. Preparing the layout
In this step we are going to rebuild a layout of our design. You need to put your cut-out elements on the table top in desirable order, just to reconstruct original layout.
The best way to do it (well, at least this way works the best for me) is to use a template of your design printed on paper. You need to cut the print out in one piece and align on the surface.
To do that use a ruler for precise / symmetrical alignment, and a pencil for marking position of edges and corners. This speeds up a whole process.
You will erase these pencil marks afterwards, when table top gets wet (it is easier to use a rubber on moistened surface).
VII. Transferring the decal
Now it is a time to get wet.
Having all elements marked on the table, remove them into a safe place and bring on the water tray.
1. Dipping the decal into a water
The decal does not have to stay in water for long. I literally put it there for four – five seconds, just making sure there are no dry spots left. When you take it out from water, after about a half a minute, the bottom layer (the backing paper) will soak with water and dissolve glue. You want to feel the decal can be slid easily.
Be careful however, and do not leave it for too long in the water, otherwise the decal may completely unstuck form paper ruining your work.
2. Sliding decal off the backing paper
Before you start – sprinkle the table top with some water to make a sliding easier.
Now lay down the decal – find appropriate markings and put the paper one inch below (vertically) keeping horizontal alignment. Now you want to slide it back on accurate, marked position. The trick is to slide it off about a half way, position as required, and then – gently pressing decal to the surface – carefully pull off the layer of backing paper from underneath.
Do not throw away this soaking paper; you will use it just in a second for smoothing the decal.
This is a good moment for a rubber to start erasing the pencil marks.
3. Removing the water – drying up
The next important thing is to release water remaining between the table and the decal. To do it, take a piece of soaking backing paper I mentioned a moment ago. Fold it in four leaving slippery side facing outside. Now you can use it to smoothing surface of your decal.
Your aim is to get rid of as much water as you can. If you do not do this – your image will not stick properly. After that – dry up the surface with paper towel.
4. Repeating above steps for the rest of elements
We are almost there. Right now you need to repeat all this steps for the remaining elements of your design.
The same way to make grapes ornament (just take extra caution with the thinnest parts of image)…
VIII. Finishing – the varnish
When you finished, it is good to leave the piece for a day in warm dry place, just to make sure there is no water or moist remaining under the skin of the decal.
Your last step will be covering the table top with a layer of protection, in my case – a clear acrylic varnish.
Here you have a final effect.
I hope you find this tutorial helpful. If happens that you use my tips and advices, why do not you send me an image with your work? And if you have any questions or comments – do not hesitate to use comment form below, I will be happy to help or know what you think.
And at last – remember that you can make your own print transfer using the blank water slide decals you can find in our online shop.