by Gail Sanders
Several years ago I started making decoupage puzzle block sets for friends and family – an instant hit! I have given these at Christmas, for birthdays, wedding gifts, and baby showers. Besides being appreciated as quality hand-made gifts, these can be personalized to fit your specific recipient. Dog prints for the dog lover, Norman Rockwell for the Rockwell collector, teddy bears for the mother-to-be. The possibilities are endless!
Six 2″ wooden blocks; six pictures 4″ x 6″ or larger; foam brush; decoupage glue; x-acto knife; cutting surface; rulers.
Though you will be only using six pictures for the set, in the event of a mistake, it is recommended to have one or two extra pictures handy. Recommended picture sources include greeting cards, post-cards, illustrations from children’s books and calendars. You DO NOT want paper that is shiny or very thin, ie. no magazines, photos, or wrapping paper. With this particular craft project thin paper tends to bubble when the decoupage glue dries; this makes working with the paper difficult.
PREPARING THE PICTURES
If your picture is larger than 4″ x 6″, you will need to trim it to 4″x 6″. Cut the trimmed picture into two 2″ x 6″ strips. Repeat for the remaining five pictures. Set the strips aside, being careful to group the pairs of strips together.
DECOUPAGING THE BLOCKS
The goal is to glue one strip from each picture to one side of each block. A possible error you can make is to glue two strips from the same picture to the same block. The result, therefore, is a puzzle which can never be solved.
On an uncovered block side, brush on a layer of decoupage. Position one of the paper slips – make sure you haven’t already used this particular picture on this particular block – on the block so that the top of the strip is even with a block edge. Smooth and press the paper so that the paper sticks removing any bubbles, then turn the block over so that the paper side is face down and press on the block. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the decoupage to dry.
While you are waiting for one block to dry, you can repeat the previous step for the remaining blocks. Once a strip is dry, carefully use your x-acto knife to trim off the over-hanging end of the strip. Remember this cut will be the new top edge for the next block. Trim off any extra paper on the other sides.
Sometimes the paper edges, particularly the corners, don’t stick after one glue application. I recommend checking these and dabbing on a little extra glue, as necessary, and pressing down, to seal these edges and corners.
Repeat until you have used up all the strips and all block sides have been covered.
FINAL DECOUPAGE SEALING (OPTIONAL)
To help protect the blocks, you can put on two coats of decoupage for each picture. Be sure to wait for each coat to dry before putting on a second coat or before turning the block to work on another side.
To complete a 2 x 3 set – that is, to cover 36 block sides – usually takes 1 to 2 hours, depending upon the crafter.
Using the principles and procedures described above you can easily vary the size and number of blocks for your puzzle. I have made 5 x 6 sets from calendars using 2″ blocks and well as 3 x 4 sets from greeting cards using 1″ blocks. Remember the number of columns (or rows, your choice) will determine the total number of picture strips you will need. With a 5 x 6 set using 2″ blocks you will need five 2″ x 6″ strips; with a 3 x 4 set using 1″ blocks you will need three 1″ x 4″ strips. How long it takes to assemble the block set will be determined by the total number of blocks. Remember with a 5 x 6 set you will be covering 180 block sides! Happy crafting!
Copyright Gail Sanders. Gail is the owner of Gail’s Books, a mail-order used book store with a wide range of catalogs ranging from Christian to technical.