the second 45


decoupage the house (4): EnviroTex Lite and the cigar box

Posted in decoupage by geodesia on October 26, 2008
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Cigar boxes, how I do love thee.

Seriously. Just plain old empty wood cigar boxes. The woods, the labels, the fragrance, the sheer nifty goodness of packaging–the fact that there’s something left over after the contents are gone that’s worth having in itself. I could build a shrine to them. Of them. I certainly have enough of them lying around here.

I like them plain, but I give them away decoupaged on top, lined with fabric. I’m loving them even more this year now that I’ve got some decent Envirotex results. It took me a while because I couldn’t find any very detailed description of how it’s done, so here’s one from me. I suggest trying the tray first for reasons described in that post. I’ll be describing top-only Envirotex application.

None of this is hard, but there are critical steps; you cannot get a good result without them.

First, give yourself enough time. When I’m working on a cigar box, I may use wood filler, a finish restorer, gesso, paint, glue, varnish, wax, and Envirotex resin. Each of these has a different cure time. You have to honor cure times. Just because you really need your project to be finished tomorrow isn’t going to speed up the chemical reactions taking place. Mix uncured media and you’re going to get nasty effects.

Prepare the outside of your box as you see fit. I remove labels but generally leave the sides and bottom as they are, and then usually paint the top and apply paper with glue. I most often use Minwax Polycrylic on the bottom and sides of the box, and then seal over the decoupaged top with Polycrylic or Liquitex varnish, two coats minimum.

So…it’s cured, right? If your finish says “allow 3 hours for light handling and 24 hours for normal use,” you’re going to allow 24 hours, right? Because you do not want Envirotex sitting on top there chewing through your sealer.

You do not want globs of Envirotex all over the sides of your box either, so coat the sides with paste wax. I use the Johnson’s stuff in a can. Totally coat the sides all the way up to the top edges but do not go over the top, not a speck. Envirotex will not stick to the waxed areas even if it hardens there. Do not buff it up like you would if it were furniture; just leave it to dry. Then apply masking tape to the box-top lip to keep the resin from running in there and sealing your box shut. Cover the latch and hinges too.

the wax will keep the tape from hurting your finish

the wax will keep the tape from hurting your finish

Now prepare your workspace for pouring Envirotex. You will need to protect your surface–wax paper is good for this. You will need to elevate the box so that if you get drips they will drip off the bottom rather than settling in to glue your box to your table. Set your box up as a dry run and make sure the top of it is level, really as truly level as you can possibly attain. Then find something to be a dust cover while the Envirotex cures for the first eight hours. I use a bowl or plastic bin or whatever can be made dust-free and will fit over without touching the box. Get all of this done before you pour.

Read the Envirotex instructions. Have a couple of craft stick stirrers handy. Estimate, measure, mix as described in the tray project. But this time, let the mixed resin sit there in the mixing cup for 10 minutes before pouring.

Now, pour, starting with a thin stream in the center and going around and around in roughly the shape of the box top. You will be using less resin than you might for a tray, because you don’t want it all to slop over the edges right away, but it’s still a good thick layer, full of bubbles.

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Stop about an inch away from the edge. Let it sit 5 minutes. Ideally, it will not be reaching the edge after 5 minutes, but if it’s close, push it back with the craft stick. You don’t want it there yet.

Now work on the bubbles as described in the tray project–except you should not pick up or tilt the box. Have a good light handy and move around to catch the surface at different angles, so you can see bubbles or dust. Keep pushing the resin back from the edges if you need to. Take your time on the bubbles; no need to hyperventilate. Keep shaking the straw!

Somewhere around 15 minutes after the actual pour, take your craft stick and drag the resin to each edge. You don’t have to worry about making it level and you don’t want to push a bunch over the edge. All you need to do is lead the resin neatly to the brim; it will flow and level itself, and surface tension will hold it there. I bring the stick right up to the edge of the box-top and kind of saw it back and forth there to make an even edge on the resin.

naturally I have to make the occasional chicken box

naturally I have to make the occasional chicken box

go all the way out to the very edge

go all the way out to the very edge

If it’s really uncontrollable and dripping all over, then you’ve got too much poured on; use less next time.

Work on the bubbles some more. At 25 to 30 minutes after pouring, you should be done. Call it good enough, put the dust cover over, and walk away. And now the hardest part–don’t peek for eight hours!

Once it’s dust-proof, you can uncover it. Let it sit flat for a couple more days to fully cure (72 hours). In the meantime you can remove the tape, and any drips should pop right off your waxed surfaces. If there’s a little ridge left behind after you break off a drip, you can sand it and then polish the edge off with fine steel wool, but wait until the resin is fully hardened.

Last but not least, give it a new coat of wax on all non-resined surfaces. Buff it up. Admire!
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