I have a little red notebook filled with recipes that my grandmother saved. I keep it in the kitchen with my other cookbooks. It has great sentimental value as the recipes are in her handwriting but I rarely look at it. It stays mostly tucked away. It was time to change that.
I’ve seen versions of reverse decoupage on glass plates in magazines and craft books. The layering of paper, memorabilia and other embellishments to create a cohesive art display was intriguing. I was nervous going into the project. It is a special skill to create art in reverse but fortunately decoupage is a forgiving craft.
I started by photocopying a couple of the recipes from the book. I picked the first recipe because of it’s simple, descriptive title of “meat”. It just made me smile. It seems to leave so many unanswered questions. It’s so broad and so specific at the same time. I picked the second recipe for whoopie pies since it’s Maine’s official state treat.
The savory and sweet complimented nicely. Although this project was never about the recipes. My grandmother was a homemaker as frozen dinners and processed food were taking hold in America. This was not high cuisine which was okay. I didn’t intend to make the meals. This project was always about getting to see her handwriting and beautiful face every day.
Now that I had picked the recipes I was going to use, I pulled together some pictures of my grandmother and used my Dymo label write to type out a few phrases I thought I might use. I took the memorabilia to Staples and photocopied them with a laser copier. I didn’t want to use the originals and I couldn’t print them on my ink jet printer as the ink would run when I tried to mod podge them onto the plate but the laser printed pieces would be stable.
My kitchen has an expansive picture window overlooking the lake. To the right of the window we have framed illustrations from the Great British Bake Off which is one of our favorite shows. But, the left side was looking a little empty. A couple of personalized glass plates would definitely help to brighten things up. Knowing that the plates would be displayed here helped me pick the patterned papers to incorporate into my design.
Fortunately, my years of memory keeping means I have amassed an extensive collection of paper crafting supplies. Over the course of a few weeks, I kept digging into my stash and pulling out anything I thought might work for my plate design. Once I had everything pulled together, I started the project.
Since the design elements have to be built in reverse, I started by centering my recipes on each plate and then working my way towards the outer edge. I added a decorative border around the outside of the recipe using some precut strips that I had on hand. I added a few pictures to each plate. Once I had these key elements in place I played around with various other embellishments and accents until I had a general design that I liked.
Now it was the waiting game. I’ve found through the years that my projects come out best when I leave some time between what I think is the final design and making it the actual final design. So I like to leave it out and revisit it over two or three days. While I don’t tend to make dramatic changes in this phase, I do some smaller tweaks here and there.
Once I was happy with my design, I brought out the mod podge. I put some wax paper down on the table and ran the plates through the dishwasher to get them nice and clean.
I started applying the layers working from the center out. I actually glued the border around the recipe before attaching either piece to the plate since I needed them to be more precise but for the rest of the pieces I just added glue to the front placed it down on the plate and then covered the back in more mod podge. The great thing with this craft is while you have to apply the layers in reverse you can pick up and inspect the plate between each layer.
Once I had my pieces down, I added the final background paper. Card stock is too heavy for a project like this but I had some thinner decorative paper I had bought years ago for another project. It was the perfect color and design for what I wanted. It took a little massaging to get it to lay the way I liked as I was working around the curved surface of the plate but I liked the creased look it produced. I added a few more layers of mod podge to the back. After everything dried, I used an x-acto knife to cut along the outer edge and get a clean finish.
I researched how to hang plates ad nauseum but never found a method that seemed failproof and I really didn’t want these plates to fall and break. In the end, I doubled up. First, I used my glue gun to attach a paperclip to the back. The instructions I found had you add a piece of felt over the bottom of the paperclip. It felt secure, but I still didn’t trust it so I also used command strip velcro tabs as added hanging security.
A few final notes…
- This project was not without setbacks. When applying my recipes, I added the mod podge to one of the recipes and waited too long to add it to the plate. The recipe had become too wet and flimsy. It ripped when I was smoothing it on the plate. The more I tried to fix it, the more it disintegrated. I had to remove everything and restart. Fortunately, it just meant getting more photocopies. Another great reason never to use originals in a project like this one.
- I tried to reposition one of the pictures after I had put it down which caused some of the image to stay on the plate leaving the image white in a few spots. I actually didn’t mind as it made the picture seem more vintage but I did stop trying to reposition things after that lesson. Once they were down, I let them stay where they were.
- I bought my glass plates from Goodwill and they were scuffed along the bottom. After doing the decoupage you couldn’t see the scuffs at all. The glue covered them up.
My picture window is now framed with personalized art and I remember my grandmother every time I look at my decoupaged plates. I am incredibly happy with how these came out. They are better than I imaged they would be.
I enjoyed all the crafts I did as I prepared for this A to Z challenge but this one really holds a special place in my heart. I smile and remember my grandmother every time I look at the plates. They add a such a bright spot to a previously empty kitchen corner and really showcase my desire to have pieces in my home that are personal and speak to our history and who we are as a family.
Have you ever created something using a loved ones handwriting?
I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2021. I will be posting new content every day this month except most Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Craft Projects for my Home. To read more of my A to Z posts from this year, click HERE.