How to Make a Collaged Table with a Built-in Game

comments (13) November 15th, 2008     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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You could choose a table about the same size as the board game, or one much bigger for more collage space like my table.
For my Scrabble board, I found these sign language images—perfect!
If you build the table, you can add a shelf or drawer to hold the game pieces so its always ready for playing.
You could choose a table about the same size as the board game, or one much bigger for more collage space like my table.

You could choose a table about the same size as the board game, or one much bigger for more collage space like my table.

Photo: Lee Meredith
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Ok, I know I already did a board game project, but this one doesn't have to be, since you can totally leave off the board game element if you so choose— I just think a coffee table with a built-in board game of your choice is awesome! This project could be a relatively quick one, or it could be pretty major if you are able and willing to build the table yourself, which is why I'm giving you the concept several weeks before the deadline. 

You'll need:

  • A table
  • Collage materials: game board, book/magazine pages, photos, and/or anything else 2-D that you want
  • Scissors (and an X-acto knife might be helpful)
  • Mod Podge glue sealer and foam brush
  • Optional: Envirotex Lite for a completely sealed, waterproof finish

Whether you do go completely DIY with the table or you head to your local thrift store (or Ikea like I did), the tabletop needs only to be as big as the game board you want to use, or it could be much bigger if you want lots of extra collage space. A tabletop the same size as the board, decorated with nothing but the game, would result in a cleaner, simpler, less crafty look, so that might be the way to go if your recipient loves games but has a more minimalist aesthetic.

The first thing you'll need to do is take the paper off the game board, which happens to be the hardest part of this whole project. In my experience, the paper will rarely want to just peel right off; you will get some rips, which you will have to glue down as seamlessly as possible when adhering to the tabletop. Start by carefully picking at the corners with your fingernails to see where it most easily comes off.

With this board, the top and bottom edges came up fairly easily, while the side two couldn't be pried up at all.

Keep peeling, slowly and carefully, if you're able to. Right now, you want to see if it's going to be possible to peel off the whole thing in one piece. If you are able to keep going and get the paper off with minimal ripping, great! With this Scrabble board example, that was not the case...

You can see that red part of the board that stayed stuck while peeling—no good!

If it's refusing to peel off like this one was, you'll have to resort to taking it off in pieces and placing the pieces back together on the table. The next thing I did was to run my X-acto knife around the edges of the board paper to pry it up from underneath. Then, starting from the side opposite of that part that I'd already ripped, I pried the corner up with the blade and ripped a strip of the board off. I was able to rip the whole thing off in four sections using this method.

These four curled-up strips of board game will be easy to piece back together on the table.

Different boards will act differently, and you may have bad luck by choosing a game that just won't come apart or rips in too many pieces, but hopefully you'll be able to use your crafty skills to get that paper off the board in whatever way you can. Once that's done, you get to start on the table: Start by covering the area where the game will go with a generous coat of Mod Podge.

If the game paper is curled up, you'll need a plentiful amount of glue to hold it down flat and securely.

Now flatten the game paper onto the table, carefully lining up sections, and smoothing out air bubbles.

If you want the game to look seamless, be sure not to place the pieces in the wrong order like I did on the left side with that visible seam.

If you are decorating a large table with lots of extra collage space, now is the time to glue on your bottom layer of collage materials. For my Trivial Pursuit table, I used full book pages and large pictures to cover much of the white table on the bottom layer.

It's a good idea to do large collages like this is layers, letting glue dry between each one.

For best results, get that paper super smooth on top of the Mod Podge and let it dry for 10 or more minutes, then spread some more sealer over the top, smoothing seams and corners well. If you will be covering the whole table with a stronger sealer than Mod Podge (like Envirotex Lite, which I'll talk about later), then you don't really need to Mod Podge over everything—just the edges and seams will be enough to get everything smooth.

My Scrabble paper is quite wrinkly because I did not wait the 10 minutes before sealing as recommended.

You can start gluing on your second layer of collage paper right away by sticking it to the still-wet top coat of sealer, adding more glue if necessary. I like putting collage elements on the game board, helping to blend the surrounding collage and the board into a more seamless look. Just be sure not to cover anything on the board that is part of the game when playing!

If you wanted to go crazy with Scrabble, you could fill in every blank square with a tiny picture and still be able to play the game!

With Trivial Pursuit, there's a ton of blank space on the board—all those triangles between the spokes of game path—that are just begging to be decorated! As long as you can still distinguish the color of each space and follow the path, you can get super creative with that board!

In addition to filling those wedges with images, I added several color patterns to spaces randomly throughout the board.

Another way to really help the board blend with the rest of the table collage is to overlap collage pictures onto the edges of the board.

Going over edges and corners of the game with pictures helps with collage continuity.

Keep repeating the gluing steps with each layer of collage—glue on the bottom of the pictures, let dry for a while, go over the tops/edges to get them totally smooth, then start the next layer...

For my Scrabble board, I found these sign language images—perfect!

Some more collage tips and tricks... Mixing different kinds of color and black and white makes for a more interesting piece. By different kinds of color, I just mean super vibrant with dull and faded, etc.

The combination of color photo images with graphic illustration with black and white photos helps keep the different images from blending into one another.

Similar to the color variety, it looks cool to mix different kinds of images, like patterns, photos, drawings, abstract close-ups, scientific get the idea.

Contrasting images against an abstract patterned background image adds depth to the collage.

If you're wondering where I found my particular collage images, old science books from the '60s and '70s, found quite easily in most thrift stores, are fantastic for weird collage pictures! I think many of my table pictures came from psychology and human behavior books.

These old Life science and nature books are full of interesting, crazy, funny, beautiful imagery!

And lastly, the final finish. My Trivial Pursuit table is finished with Envirotex Lite, which is a reactive polymer compound, claiming to equal up to 50 coats of varnish. I don't know much about this stuff, but I think it's like a nontoxic, safer kind of epoxy resin. You can find it at major craft stores and online; just follow the directions included. It was well worth the extra money and effort for me—the table has a fantastic, permanent, professional-looking finish. I treat it terribly, and every time I clean it off, it wipes up like new! You can get a decent finish on your table by just using several coats of Mod Podge, and it will hold up decently well, but if you want a seriously nice finish, I do recommend going the polymer compound route.

If you build the table, you can add a shelf or drawer to hold the game pieces so it's always ready for playing.

The great thing about Trivial Pursuit is that you can use any set of cards with any board, so my generic, decorated table board is usually played using the pop culture and/or '90s edition decks. 

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posted in: paper, game, furniture, decoupage, table, collage

Comments (13)

Katrine writes: Hey.. Looks awesome! I want to do something like this, but with postcards. They are a little thicker. Do you think that it is possible? Thanks for you're answer

- Katrine
Posted: 1:12 pm on January 7th
veems48 writes: I used a hair dryer on high to remove the board game paper. It's timely but it comes off easier and cleaner. =) Thanks for the idea!
Posted: 3:33 pm on June 6th
MissTui writes: I love this!
Posted: 5:50 am on August 30th
msnew007 writes: So much fun! I love board games, and this is a fantasic idea for a game room or family room!
Posted: 12:36 am on July 27th
appsychology writes: A list of the best sites on the ap psychology of it .
Posted: 12:15 pm on May 11th
appsychology writes: A list of the best sites on the ap psychology of it
Posted: 12:14 pm on May 11th
Jadja writes: Thank you for the idea! We have a horribly abused coffee table in our TV room, the top has been toddlerized but the sides and drawers are in great shape. I was just going to paint it but this will look awesome, it's a great way to reuse too. :)
Posted: 3:41 pm on January 19th
Anasofia writes: I LOVE YOUR IDEA
Posted: 3:04 pm on December 7th
Shannonfnp writes: I love your table. I made my daughter a similar collage toybox. To avoid having to tear original pictures, I took a digital photo and printed it with a matte (non-glossy) photo paper. This I decoupaged onto the table after cropping out what I didn't need of the image. I think the tears give your table a more artistic and authentic look overall.
Posted: 2:27 pm on November 23rd
Ldybugs writes: OOh! I love this idea. I think the ripped scrabble board adds character. I would probably intentionally rip one. but if you wanted a perfect looking one just use a steamer. I picked one up on sale at Kohls for about $20 it is a garment steamer.
Posted: 5:28 am on November 19th
Toffy writes: Too bad the game board didn't come right off. I think I would soak it in water to get it loose then iron it flat and dry. This looks like a very fun project. Great idea.
Posted: 2:32 pm on November 18th
tagoean writes: It would be easier (plus you'd save your original game board) if you could take a colour copy of the board... Any copy center could do that.

Other than that: great idea, I'm so gonna make one...
Posted: 7:14 am on November 17th
Sister_Diane writes: Super, super awesome!!
Posted: 2:11 pm on November 15th
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