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Green frame with dark background and decoupaged red truck with christmas tree.

How to Decoupage Napkins on Dark Backgrounds Made Easy with Polyvine

Groundbreaking Decoupage Innovation!

We at DecoupageNapkins.com continually strive to simplify and streamline your crafting process.

Today, we're here to break the common misconception that decoupaging on dark backgrounds necessitates a white backdrop. That's old news! We've got a fresh and innovative technique for you that not only saves time but also opens up new avenues for creativity. And guess what? Donna from Mason Creations etc., is here to guide you through this journey with a hands-on video tutorial.  She has attempted this same technique using Mod Podge with lackluster results.

Watch Mason Creations etc. (13 min) video to see how Polyvine makes this possible!

 Introduction to Polyvine Varnishes

Polyvine varnishes have genuinely revolutionized the art of decoupage, offering a reliable substitute adhesive medium that stands the test of time without yellowing or fading. Its resistance to water, heat, and fingerprints makes it an unparalleled choice for craft enthusiasts looking for durability in their creations. Unlike Mod Podge, which can result in bumpy and bubbly areas, Polyvine guarantees smooth edges on the napkins, avoiding the frustrations of uneven finishes. What adds to its appeal is the rapid drying time, which notably accelerates the crafting process, saving both time and money. Moreover, it graces your project with a crystal-clear finish, enhancing the vibrant hues and intricate details of your napkin art. In essence, Polyvine stands as a quintessential all-in-one solution, streamlining your decoupage journey while ensuring stellar results.

5 bottles of Polyvine varnishes. White bottles with blue butterflies. Wood background. Polyvine Decorators Varnish

The Technique works great with Napkins or Decoupage Rice Papers. Here, we'll explain the technique, using a napkin:

To get started, you first need to prepare your napkin. This involves separating the layers so that only the top layer is used. It's crucial to remove as much of the white background as possible to get the desired outcome. A water pen can be a handy tool here, aiding in wetting the napkin efficiently to remove the excess parts. A wet paint brush can be used if you don't have a water pen. For tighter spaces, moisten the area and use tweezers to do the job.


cutting green christmas tree napkin with water pen


Next, set your workstation with a silicone mat, which will be essential in the subsequent steps. Avoid opting for a cheaper alternative as a good quality mat ensures a smoother process.

Once the mat is laid out, prepare the napkin by placing it on a Ziploc bag. Mist it thoroughly with an ample amount of water, then gently eliminate any wrinkles. To do so, the best technique is to move the napkin around from the top, bottom and both sides. Don't push out from the center or the napkin may tear. You can observe Donna's mastery of this step, in her video demonstration. 

Laying green christmas tree on plastic sprayed with water


It's time to bring out the Polyvine varnish. Apply the Polyvine liberally to the mat making sure to apply the varnish just beyond the edges of where your napkin will be laid.

Image of blue mat being varnished with Polyvine varnish


After applying the Polyvine, flip the plastic-covered napkin, placing it napkin side down (and plastic side up) over the varnish-covered silicone mat. Now, smooth out the napkin to remove any bubbles or wrinkles.

Placing wet napkin on polyvine area of mat

Give your project about an hour to dry. One of the perks of using Polyvine is its quick drying time. Then gently peel the napkin away from the silicone mat. Trimming is generally not necessary, so "fussy-cutting" the edges is entirely up to you. When you ultimately lay the napkin down on whatever it's mounted to and coat again with Polyvine, those edges won't be visible. That's the beauty of Polyvine! 

Peeling napkin off of the silicone matt with the polyvine backing 

The final step involves adding a coat of white paint to the back of the napkin, precisely over the pattern, ensuring not to cross the edges. The objective is for the very most outer edges and sides to be clear so that no white paint is visible from the front, once it is turned over.

Paint the back of the napkin with white paint

Depending on the intricacy of the napkin pattern, choose brushes of appropriate sizes to get into all the nooks and crannies. Allow a full hour or two for the paint to dry.

Final Touches

After drying, it’s time to transfer the image to your chosen dark background.

The first step is to again lay down a fresh piece of plastic and mist it with water. Then, lay the napkin face down on the plastic so that the white side is facing you. Now spray the white side with a little bit of water. This softens the napkin slightly and makes it easy to apply. Next, using Polyvine once again, apply a varnish layer onto the wood (or other) surface. Then flip your napkin, laying it down so that the top side is facing you. Smooth out any bubbles and secure the edges using a brush.

Place image on polyvine are of dark background

Note that the previously applied white paint helps in preserving the vibrancy of the image even on a dark background! Isn't this marvelous?! Think of the possibilities.

 Once you are satisfied with the placement, give the napkin design a final coat of Polyvine to seal and protect the pattern. This varnish not only acts as a adhesive but also serves as an excellent sealer, saving both time and costs associated with using multiple products.

Brush on Polyvine to the edges and apply final finish

Another advantage of Polyvine over alternatives like Mod Podge is its ability to make the napkin edges disappear.

There is a dramatic difference!

Polyvine gives a cleaner and more professional finish to your project.

 Look at this picture comparison of the results you'll get using Mod Podge (a glue) versus Polyvine (a varnish) :

 Image of mod podge over pink floral decoupage napkin

Image of Christmas tree decoupage napkin applied to wood with Polyvine varnish



This new method is indeed a breakthrough in the world of decoupage, eliminating the limitation of working only on white painted backgrounds. We have now opened doors to a world where your creativity is not bound by the color of the surfaces you work on.

Polyvine comes in Decorator's Varnish which is perfect for your everyday crafts that are just to be displayed and looked at.  Polyvine Decorators' varnish comes in Satin, Gloss and Dead Flat finishes. For increased protection from heat and water in heavily used projects like coasters, trays and furniture, try Polyvine Heavy Duty Wood Varnish.  If your crafted decor is going outside and you need the ultimate protection, use Polyvine Heavy Duty Extreme Varnish.  We urge you to try all of the Polyvine products such as Polyvine Acrylic Crackle Glaze and Polyvine Acrylic Glass Frosting. They are a joy to work with and you can make the most amazing things!


Bottle of Polvine decorator's varnish with blue butterfly on white bottle.


We extend our special thanks to Donna from Mason Creations for pioneering this technique and sharing it with all of us through her video. Her insights and expertise have truly revolutionized the way we approach decoupage on dark surfaces.

 Don’t forget to check out DecoupageNapkins.com for a vast array of products to aid you in your next project. And of course, make sure to watch Donna's insightful video for a step-by-step guide on mastering this technique. Happy crafting!