Thursday, December 19, 2013

Moppe to Map {or how to make an Ikea Moppe chest look slightly more attractive}

Serves me right for making promises when it comes to blogging; always the kiss of death. It's nearly Christmas for flips sake!

Anyway, 'nuff said, on with todays waffle....

You can call it a 'tutorial' if you like (I think that can be little condescending so I won't) or just a post about how I prettied up a plain chest. It's just the way I did it. I'm not saying it's right or wrong but it's my way and it works for me; you might love it or hate it but if you're thinking of doing something similar and have never tackled this sort of thing before it may give you a few pointers.

(apologies in advance for the lazy one-handed phone pics but it was easier than downing tools every few minutes to take a snap on the big camera)

decorated ikea moppe chest

So, I'm supposing that an awful lot of people out there have some form of Moppe chest. This is my third and very useful they are too. Just crying out to be decorated aren't they?
My other two are painted. One I won't show you as it was decorated many years ago for my interior design course and was intended to showcase 'paint effects'. Hmmmm.....suffice to say it now lives in a cupboard and does service as a sort of first aid box. It's not pretty. I'll get around to re-doing it someday.
The other one I hand painted (after a fashion!)  and it sits on the worktop in the utility room and is full of all those little things that need a home but you only have a use for once a flood such as picture/curtain hooks, matches, superglue etc...I don't know why I'm telling you all this except to demonstrate the versatility of the Moppe!

hand painted ikea moppe chest

So when I decided to buy another for use in my little office come craft space come sewing space I wanted to do something different.
I decided to cover the drawer fronts with an old map just because I love old maps and I can stick down paper in my sleep so not much of a stretch, creatively speaking.

vintage bartholomews road atlas

I quite often find old maps or road atlas's at car boot sales and the like and cheap too if they're damaged. Then I have no qualms about cutting them up for projects like this. This lovely Bartholomew's atlas is from 1955. I know because it says so inside.

ikea moppe chest hack
So what do we need? Well a Moppe chest (or other undecorated piece ~ you can of course apply this method to lots of other items, big or small) plus....
ikea moppe chest decorated with vintage map
.....a pencil, a very sharp craft knife/scalpel, a ruler, a cutting mat is very useful, PVA glue, a smallish brush, something to decant the glue into, paint, knobs (if using, we'll come that later) wax, wire wool, sandpaper and a cloth.
Now you won't need much paint for this. I really wanted to use a pale grey but couldn't be a***d to go out and buy some. You know what it's like when you just have to get on with something. So I found half a tester pot of F&B paint in 'Bone' knocking around and crossed my fingers it would be enough. And it was. Not quite as grey as I would have liked, more grey-green but meh! I gave the outside of the chest a light sand and then applied two coats of paint including the edges of the drawers. You can paint the whole thing in and out if you so wish. Me, I don't see the point. Paint knobs if using.
Handy hint! Use a brush the same size, that is, the width, as the drawer edge and you can paint the whole length in one sweep without worrying about getting paint over the edges where you don't want it.
decorated ikea moppe chest hack
Apply two coats, let it dry, give it a another light sand. Then wack on the wax. I love Briwax in Antique Brown. Been using it for donkeys years.  I know, looks scary! You can apply with a cloth or you may prefer like me, to use wire wool. Any grade will do. This will smooth the surface and also distress at the same time if you give it a bit more welly so if you haven't used the sandpaper or forgot then this will do the job. I also prefer wire wool as it really gets the wax into the surface grain. I didn't want a really dark surface so I polished it off near enough straight away with a clean cloth to remove excess wax and buff to a lovely sheen. I was going for a slightly dirty look, not out and out filthy! If you do want to distress, just be a bit more heavy handed on the edges to remove a little paint.
ikea moppe chest hack
 Handy hint! If you're turning the drawers around and adding knobs (which I like to do) this is a good stage at which to mark out where they will go. As you can see from the above picture, I forgot until after I'd applied my map  :-(  It can still be done, it's just easier to do it before by pencilling two lines from corner to corner and where they cross in the middle is where you put your knob. We don't want pencil lines on our lovely drawer front so it has to involve measuring and stuff and blurghh, you get the idea; don't be a numpty like me and remember to do it before sticking commences!
ikea moppe chest hack
 Time to cut out your paper. Place the drawer face down (remember I'm using the 'back' here not the front with the little finger hole) on your map and drawer around the edge with a pencil.
The using a ruler, preferably a metal one, cut around the pencil line with your craft knife. Put your weight on it so it doesn't move.
vintage bartholomews road map
 Handy hint! This is useful if leaving your project for a few hours ~ pop the relevant drawer front into it's drawer until you're ready to stick it down. I know it seems obvious but as I'm trying to replicate a whole area over six drawers it means I'm unlikely to stick the wrong piece onto the wrong drawer front. If you're going for a more patchwork look, don't bother! 
decorated ikea moppe chest hack
 Time to get sticking.
But first, lets talk about wrinkles. And bubbles. This is the bane of the decoupager, if you will.
First, your paper will look like this:
decorated ikea moppe chest hack
 Then as it starts to dry, it will get worse and look like this:
decorated ikea moppe chest hack
Then it will dry out completely and look, well, if not as smooth as a baby's behind then pretty darn close.

ikea moppe chest hack decorated with vintage map
Wrinkles? I don't think so!!

(I was lucky in that I was able to apply my map to show both my home town and where I live now (vaguely between the knob and the sea!) as they're not too far from each other)
How do we achieve this? Firstly, by having our PVA as undiluted as possible. It needs a little watering down to make it brushable but too much and we get wrinkles and bubbles and they won't disappear when it's dry.  So, just go very steady with the water and barely add any. If you do add too much it's easily remedied by adding more glue back in but you may end up with far too much glue and then it'll be wasted and we don't want that either!
Secondly, just apply a VERY thin coat to your surface. The temptation is to slap it on because we want the paper to say put but it's really not necessary. The paper will adhere just as well with a thin coat but make sure the surface is completely covered and you'll be fine. Remember, the glue is going to be quite strong as it's barely diluted.
So.....decant some PVA into a container and add a VERY small amount of water. Mix well and apply a THIN coat of glue to your drawer, making sure you've covered it all well. Start by brushing out towards the edges to make sure there is a good covering as not enough there and you'll get curling up. Then do the rest. Apply your paper carefully and smooth down from the middle outwards; pretend you're applying a screen protector to your phone or for the more old-fashioned amongst us (me) covering a shelf in Fablon.
You can also go over the surface with a roller. I've never used one, finding my hands sufficient, but each to his own. Just keep smoothing with your fingers, from the middle out, even though as you're doing it more bubbles will keep appearing, little blighters!
There will be a little bit of 'slip' but you will still need to work fairly quickly.
It will get to a stage where you're 95% happy and you can't do anymore. This is when you walk away, let it dry and hope for the best. If you've followed the advice above you should have a near enough wrinkle free surface and my work is done. You're very welcome!
decorating an Ikea moppe chest
 Now when your paper is dry you may find it's a little larger than the drawer. This is only natural as we traced around the outside of the drawer albeit closely. Fret ye not.
decorated ikea moppe chest hack
 Just place your drawer face down on your cutting mat and trim all around with your VERY sharp craft knife. Again, put your weight on it so it can't move. This will give a lovely crisp edge.
decorated ikea moppe chest hack
 If you're adding knobs drill a hole in the drawer front (which we marked out BEFORE we applied the paper, didn't we?) feed a screw through from the inside and screw on your knob. I have to admit this is where I hand over to the reins to Mr TVL. My knobs, which are teeny tiny came from ebay.  I certainly couldn't find any that small on the high street. They come without screws so you'll need to buy some. The knobs on my hand painted Moppe are actually from an old (and by old, I don't mean vintage, just manky) wooden towel rail. They were screwed onto the end of the rails to stop them falling out. I try not to throw anything away I think will come in handy one day!
I'm sure you could glue your knobs on with something like 'No More Nails'. It very much depends on what you plan to keep in your drawers.
You'll notice (if you look closely) that my maps don't quite match up in the centre. And The Wash ends very abruptly!
ikea moppe chest hack decorated with vintage map
This is because I took mine from across two pages of a book where there was a spine and a white border through the middle. Another problem I had was that I could only get four drawers from one double page so had to go to another page for the bottom two. This threw everything out as you can see from the second picture below. It was impossible to get the map to look seamless ~ I would have run out of map altogether on the right side and would have to have had a join on the left due to the spine.

vintage bartholomews road map

decorated ikea moppe chest hack
Fuzzy phone pics are indefensible, so I won't bother.
So I had to be satisfied with the best I could get and it doesn't bother me but if it does you, best to use a large fold out map instead. You'll just have creases to contend with then! Or go for a more 'freeform' (patchwork!) look.

So there you go. Fairly cheap to achieve (just had to buy the knobs) it only took a few hours work over the course of a couple of days and it looks a heck of lot more interesting than it did initially. Well, I'm pleased with it anyway!

ikea moppe chest hack decorated with vintage map
This is where I'm supposed to say 'ta-dah'. Instead I'll wish you all seasonal felicitations and erm, I'll see you in three months ;-)