February calls for a change of scenery. Although you may not be able to do much about the view outside the window, this absorbing project can make the inside look a little brighter.
Start by helping your kids choose something simple to decorate: a small step stool, a wooden box or one of my family's favorite projects, a collection shelf. Have your kids select and cut out a variety of favorite images from catalogs, magazines, maps and other sources. For a collection shelf of miniature race cars, for example, your child might want a backdrop of pictures of real NASCAR drivers. A box for keeping special pen pal letters could be covered with cool stamps. Or an old step stool might take on new life when covered with a hodgepodge of your child's favorite things: Shetland ponies, gerbera daisies, baseballs and Amazon parrots. If the artwork is very thick--or, conversely, so thin the words from the other side show through--try color-copying it first.
To apply the images, first clean your surface, then paint on a thin film of decoupage medium. We especially recommend Golden Soft Gel Matte medium, a product available at craft stores that won't yellow or crack over the years. Apply the art and let it dry for five minutes. Paint a thin film of gel over the artwork.
CRAFTER'S TIP: For surfaces that will see lots of traffic (say, a step stool), add a layer of clear varnish for a durable finish.