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Painting backward is one good way to make place mats.

Painting backward is one good way to make place mats

Painting in reverse--starting with the detail and ending with a background coat-- may sound backward, but it's a time-proven technique for painting on glass. We've adapted this idea for making your own acrylic plastic place mats, and, although ours were drawn by an artist, the technique will work for less skilled painters or children as well.

Each place mat starts as an 11- by 14-inch piece of 1/8-inch acrylic, sold at home centers or plastics stores. Some stores can cut acrylic to size, or you can use a table saw with a fine-toothed plastic-cutting blade. Cost is about $3.50 per mat. Use fine sandpaper to smooth the edges.

You'll also need a permanent felt marker, acrylic and spray acrylic paint, and sheets of tracing paper larger than the mat size.

First work out your design on a piece of tracing paper. If you like, use a photograph or image from a magazine or book for inspiration.

Remember that you're painting on the back and that the image will be seen from the front. Lettering must be in reverse, so flip the tracing paper before you copy it.

Since the initial image is drawn with a marking pen, it will act as a border for the following layers of paint. Try to paint up to and slightly on top of the pen line, but not over to the other side. If you are going to have highlights, paint them first.

After completing the picture, you may want to add felt or contact paper to the back to protect it from abrasion.

Photo: Work out design on tracing paper, turn paper over, and position mat over design. Copy with marking pen. Note reverse letters

Photo: Paint carefully between the lines. You paint or draw details and highlights first, then cover them with subsequent layers

Photo: The last layer is a coat of spray paint that gives the background an even, smooth texture and protects your drawing

Photo: Homemade place mats have shiny top surface with painted side facing table. For fun, each image is named in three languages. The acrylic mats wipe clean with a damp sponge. Avoid scraping the tops; they'll scratch
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1987
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