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Paper Bag Stool Top Decorating Technique

by in Jan 2009
Paper Bag Stool Top Decorating Technique
3 votes, 4.00 avg. rating (79% score)
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A stool top finished in the same technique, using paper scraps in a variety of earth tones. Click here for directions.
Photo/Art by Andrew Wellman
A stool top finished in the same technique, using paper scraps in a variety of earth tones.

Gwynne Gardner, the Vermont homeowner who used this brown-bag technique as a floor covering (How’d They Do that? Budget Flooring), encourages the use of paper and polyurethane in other projects. She says, “I papered a coffee table in lieu of sanding and refinishing it. It was outstanding! I also papered wooden snack tables, making them finally impervious to kids!”

Process to Make a Paper Bag Stool Top:

1. Clean to stool surface thoroughly with soap and hot water.

2. Sand any raised spots and fill any gaps with wood filler. Sand lightly again.

3. For the stool in the photo, paper scraps in a variety of earth tones and torn in various sizes were used. Place larger pieces of paper first.

4. Coat underside of each piece with a 50-50 mix of water and Elmer’s white glue.

5. Lay smoothly on stool without overlap.

6. Using a fine-bristle brush, give the stool a coat of Rust-Oleum’s Verathane Diamond Floor Finish, a type of polyurethane.

7. Fill in the surface with smaller paper pieces, coated on the underside with the water-glue mix.

8. Finish the whole top with one or two coats of the polyurethane.

Updated Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

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3 Responses to Paper Bag Stool Top Decorating Technique

  1. joann dudgeon January 27, 2009 at 5:56 pm #


  2. jeanne moran January 27, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Wow…….I think this is a lovely way to cover anything, from a floor to a chair, stool, etc….very interesting! I;’d never attempt this, except it doesn’t appear difficult beyond doing…..I’m copying the instructions so I can attempt my hand at this lovely decorating skill…..many thanks !

  3. Gwynne Gardner January 28, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    Joann: This stool came into being from the scraps of acrylic painted paper left over from other projects, some of which were decades ago. The acrylics I love are iridescent Liquitex Acrylic artist colors because in natural sunlight they pick up light, glimmer and shimmer just as many natural stones do. You may also use any acrylic wall paint along with the iridescent, sponging, brushing, feathering, daubing, layering, stroking. Its much like fingerpainting, but the helpful thing is to hold in your mind what natural stones that you love look like and simply recreate them. Its best to do several different sheets of color and when you’re done start ripping! Lay them out first to get an idea of what it will look like. Then glue down pieces and fill in the holes, layer upon layer. Finally, Varathane! When I first begin I have a large piece of contractors paper and a surface on which to paint. I use plastic picnic plates to hold the paints as I add them and mix and blend. A sports bottle of water to squirt into the plate. Sea sponges, brushes, rags, feathers to add marbling & fractures. I add new color to the plate right in with the color I just used. Layer upon layer, bold color here, watered down wash there, feathered lines anywhere I feel, until it feels done. Toss it on the floor, grab a new piece of paper and a new palate of colors and here I go again! Its such fun! Its such a peaceful therapy! HA!

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