Hide dings, dents and scratches in your old guitar and add a touch personality by decoupaging the body. Named for the French word, découper, or “cut up,” decoupage is the art of decorating objects with paper cutouts, paint and other embellishments and layers of a sealer or varnish. The flat top of a guitar’s body is an ideal canvas for this medium.
Things You'll Need
- Damp cloth
- Paper or fabric cutouts
- Acrylic paint (optional)
- Decoupage medium or mix of equal parts craft glue and water
- Acrylic sealer (optional)
- Embroidery scissors
Any paper will work for decoupaging your guitar, but extra-thick card stock or cardboard is more challenging. Look to paper or fabric napkins, greeting cards, maps, magazines, book or newspaper pages, or specialty papers like tissue or rice paper. Especially fitting papers include sheet music aged in a coffee or tea bath and then allowed to dry thoroughly. Lightweight cotton fabrics, such as gingham or calico, also work well.
Remove the strings and other hardware from the guitar. If you’re uneasy about this step, enlist the help of a music store repair and restoration person.
Wipe all the surfaces with a damp cloth to remove any dust or oils from your hands. These can prevent the glue from adhering completely, so be sure the guitar is cleaned thoroughly.
Sand any rough spots so that the surface is completely smooth. Even the smallest bumps and dents will seem much larger when you’ve applied the paper, so start with the smoothest top possible.
If you want the sides and back of the guitar to be color-coordinated with the top, sand them lightly and paint them with acrylic paint. Allow the paint to dry before applying a second coat. With some colors, you might need to add a third coat, as well.
Arrange the cutouts on your work surface until you are satisfied with the design.
Brush a thin layer of the decoupage medium or glue mixture onto the guitar and on the back of the cutouts. Press the papers onto the surface, smoothing them from the center to the edge with your finger, a craft stick or a bone folder to remove any bubbles or wrinkles. Wipe away any excess glue with a damp towel. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly. At this stage, don’t worry if some of the paper hangs past the edge of the guitar body.
Check for corners or edges that did not adhere completely. With a small brush or a cotton swab, apply glue to the back and press it firmly onto the surface.
Brush the entire surface with a layer of the decoupage medium and let it dry. Apply a second coat or brush on a layer of acrylic sealer. After it dries, check that all the paper has adhered completely. If not, apply another coat and smooth everything down firmly.
Trim any excess paper from the edges of the guitar with the embroidery scissors before reattaching all of the hardware and strings.
Decoupage medium is a cloudy white when it's wet, but it dries completely clear.