I love the decorative plates that places like West Elm and Anthropologie carry, but I don’t love the price tag. I also don’t love the thought of so many other people having the same thing. One of my favorite things about DIY is making a truly unique item for your home. Making your own decorative plates is also environmentally friendly because you are using items that might otherwise go to a landfill. Double score!
How to Make Decorative Plates
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- Plates. It took a few trips to find enough plates to fill a plate wall. Some were even perfect as is. I looked for plates that had interesting elements on them and plenty of white space. I tried not to buy anything that was too precious, because I would hate to ruin something valuable.
- Decal paper. I bought this decal paper in clear. Be sure to choose the correct paper for your printer. For inkjet printers, you have to spray the paper with clear spray paint afterwards to make the ink waterproof. If you don’t want to deal with decal paper, you could also decoupage them with a decoupage glue like Mod Podge instead. I would still spray the paper with clear spray paint if you have an inkjet printer.
- Scissors to cut around the decals
- A shallow bowl of water
- Images. I picked images from Creative Market (bugs, octopus, skull, duck) and one from Canva (search heart). I love Creative Market because they have a great variety of images for great prices. If you sign up for their emails, you get 6 free items a week. My current website theme is from Creative Market and it’s the only one that I’ve bought so far that works 100%! The flowers were all made by me and I’m giving them away: floral freebie When looking for art, look for .ai files if you want to change the color and feel comfortable using a vector based program (don’t worry, I’m adding a tutorial for a free one called Inkscape.) Otherwise, .png files are good too. The color cannot be changed, but the size can.
Click here to download free flower clipart made by your’s truly!
Print as is, or open it into an editing program like Inkscape. You will be able to move and resize the images. See tutorial below! If not, scroll a bit more for the decal tutorial!
How to Use Inkscape to Open .ai Files and Resize Images
I used a program called Inkscape to help me resize my images, so I’m doing a quick tutorial on how to use the program today. Inkscape is a free open-source program that is similar to Adobe Illustrator.
- After downloading, installing and opening Inkscape, open the desired .ai files. I’m opening vector animals, which was a part of this logo bundle.
- It might take a while to load if it’s a big file. Once it loads use the select tool (the arrow) and draw a rectangle around all of the objects to select them. Since these images came from a bundle, they are all on one page. Sometimes you get lucky and they’re packaged individually. If you have a background, select the background and delete it.
- Click the ungroup button a few until the objects are separated. I could see rectangles around each animal.
- Select the animal that you want to use and click control C or right click and select copy. *When you close this image, do NOT save it like this.*
- Open a new file and paste the animal into the new file.
- To resize, select the object and click on a corner arrow. Hold control and move the arrow to the desired size. Holding control while moving keeps the ratio correct.
- To change the color, select the object and pick a new color. Inkscape comes with a default selection of colors to choose from, but you can also pick colors from the Fill and Stroke menu.
How to Use Decals to Make Decorative Plates
Note: My printer had a hard time with the 2nd decal paper that I printed. If this happens to you, use the decoupage method. However, I prefer the decals because they print on a clear background.
- Print your images onto decal paper. Remember to spray the pages with clear spray paint if you have an inkjet printer.
- Cut out each image, leaving a small area around each object.
- Soak the image in a shallow bowl of warm water for a few seconds. The decal will slip off of the paper quite easily. Don’t panic if the decal folds onto itself. It’s fine and not ruined at all! The decal paper is pretty forgiving.The large ones feel a bit scarier to use. Wait until you take it out of the water before you remove the paper backing.
- Place decal (without paper backing) onto plate where you want it. I used an old gift card to squeeze out the bubble and a towel to wipe away excess water.
- Let dry and it’s done.
How to Use Decoupage to Make Decorative Plates
- Print and cut out the images in a similar manner to above. Remember to spray with clear spray paint if you used an inkjet printer!
- Use a foam brush to apply decoupage glue to the back of the image.
- Place the image onto the plate and add another coat of glue onto the top of the image.
- Smooth the image with your fingers to get rid of any bubbles.
Hanging the decorative plates was easy. I used plate hangers for the larger plates. I love these things because they are easy to use and work well. Stretch them to fit and then hang on a nail.
For the small plates, I hot glued metal hangers to the backs. Since the plates are lightweight, the hot glued hangers hold just fine.
My plate wall really cheers up this corner of my living room! I combined my DIY decorative plate with the other plates that I found that were already awesome.
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