These St. Patrick's Puzzle Blocks are based on Victorian
originals of German design. Block puzzles like these were popular
childrens' toys, and could include dozens of blocks. The
colorful chromolithographs used for the puzzles were often nursery rhyme or
fairy tale pictures.
For you, we selected six gorgeous vintage St. Patrick's Day postcards
from the 1910s. These vintage images depict Irish cultural symbols,
from harps to shamrocks to emerald landscapes. The technique is
simple decoupage onto wooden blocks. Really, the only trick here is
keeping track of the image pieces as you glue, so you can assemble the
finished blocks and see complete images on both sides.
One of the vintage images we provide is a classic illustration by Margaret Evans Price
(1888-1973), signed "MEP." In
1930, she and her husband, Irving Price, partnered with Herman Fisher
to found Fisher-Price Toys. As the company's first art director, she
designed some of the signature products, while continuing to create
original artwork for galleries and publications. Can you find her
initialed artwork among our FREE
Spray fixative for photos and artwork, like spray varnish (see Tips)
Razor blade or sharp craft knife.
Paper cutter or scissors.
Acrylic paint and brush, green (optional).
Fine sandpaper (optional).
Distress ink or walnut ink (optional).
on matte presentation paper. Spray the images lightly with photo
fixative and let them dry. The images are slightly smaller than 4" x
6". With a paper cutter or scissors, cut each image into 6 equal
squares, just under 2" x 2". Arrange the cut pieces to form the six
complete pictures - so you don't get them mixed up.
Lightly sand the wood blocks to smooth the rough spots and edges,
and wipe clean. Arrange the blocks in a 4" x 6" rectangle and place the
pieces of the first image on top to form a complete picture.
Now, block by block, apply decoupage medium
to the face of the block and the back of the image piece. Position the
image on the block and gently smooth out air bubbles with your fingers.
Immediately brush a coat of medium over the image and brush away the
excess around the edges of the block. Let the blocks fully dry.
Assemble the blocks so the image is complete, then
carefully turn all six blocks over as a unit. Arrange the
cut pieces of the next image on the blocks, and apply them to the
blocks with decoupage medium as before. Let them dry and repeat this
process for all six sides of the blocks.
When the decoupage medium has completely dried, use a razor blade
to carefully remove any overhanging paper edges. You may also gently
sand the edges of the blocks. Wipe clean, and apply one or two more
coats of decoupage medium to the blocks, a side at a time.
At this point, you could use a little distress ink, walnut ink,
or light wood stain on the edges of the blocks, just to enhance that
worn, vintage look.
Presentation paper is
opaque white paper of lighter weight than photo paper.
It is commonly used for printing brochures and fliers, because it is
light enough to fold and mail easily. It is also an excellent paper for
printing images for decoupage projects, because it lays flat and bends
around curves and corners well. If you can't find presentation paper at
your office supply store, use a bright white, opaque printer paper.
2" square unfinished wood blocks should be easy to find at your
local craft store. If you only find other sizes, you can resize the
images in the PDF
to fit your blocks. If you can't find blocks at all, you can cut your
own from clear pine with a fine-tooth saw. Remember, a standard 2x4 is
actually 1.5" x 3.5" so you'll need to start with something bigger.
Spraying the inkjet-printed images with a fixative will prevent
the inks from blurring or running when coated with the decoupage medium
(Mod Podge). The fixative we used was Preserve It! by Krylon, described
on the label as a moisture-resistant "digital photo and paper
protectant." A clear spray varnish would work as well for this project.
Just spray the images lightly and let them dry.
Variations: Use patterned (scrapbook or wrapping) paper for one
or more sides. Cut enough 2" x 2" squares proceed as with an image. Or
paint the blocks green first, let them dry, and apply images to only
two sides of the puzzle. Lightly sand the edges of the blocks to wear
away some paint, and rub with walnut ink or stain.
Here are the vintage images on the other five sides of the St.
Patrick's Puzzle blocks: