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Create a permanent souvenir of a special trip

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When you return from a wonderful trip - or even a special weekend - here's a way to continue enjoying the people, places and experiences.

I recently transferred a collection of travel memorabilia onto a wooden magazine table/rack, using a simple method of decoupage. I'm very pleased with the project.

Overall, the little table looks something like a patchwork quilt and to family members it brings back wonderful memories.

My project started two years ago, on a trip to Italy and Spain, where I collected appealing paper souvenirs everywhere I went - postcards, hotel stationery, business cards, menus, written receipts, even the seals from a few wine bottles. Bright colors and floral designs always catch my eye. My suitcase had one of those flat zipper compartments on the outside, and I tucked my finds into the compartment as I traveled.

For instance, I saved antique-style postcards of Seville's tourist attractions and also the business card of a local wheelchair-rental office from our daughter who had a cast on a semi-broken ankle.

Anyway, once home, I let my collection of memorabilia age in a box for a couple of years. By that time, I switched from my first idea, which was to create a framed collage to hang on a wall, to the furniture-decorating decoupage scheme. The magazine table had been purchased at the Salvation Army years ago and was already spray-painted Chinese red with an over-layer of silver.

To begin, I laid out all of the possible paper items on a large table, looking for similarities of size and design. I saw that to make an attractive overall design, I needed something to tie it all together, and remembered a fancy soap carton I had on hand, called "Spanish Geranium" and covered with bright red and green blossoms. So I cut the carton into many matching pieces which I spaced among the memorabilia to balance and coordinate the overall design.

Fine gift-wrapping paper would have worked, too. In fact, the soap carton was really too thick, compared to the rest of my papers. Decoupage works best when all of the papers are as thin as possible.

I cut and shifted my memorabilia, sticking them to the table with rubber cement, which gave me lots of time to re-arrange, if necessary. I covered the entire top surface of the table with papers, but left the red and silver-painted wood surface visible here and there on the wide sides. Finally, I sprayed polyurethane (clear satin finish), in several layers, over the whole piece. Voila! A personalized, pretty table that makes us laugh.

Carolyn Barnes covers home and garden stories for the Los Altos Town Crier.

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