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How to make decorative switch plates


Brighten up a room with fun and decorative switch plates

You can easily make a decorating difference in simple ways with decorative switch and outlet plates. They can be formal and muted or colorful and playful. It's so easy and the end result will delight family and guests.

You can create switch plates in a variety of ways:

-Wallpaper scraps
-Picture cutouts from magazines or catalogs

These are just a few suggestions to get you going. Once you settle on a theme, other ideas may come to mind.

For most switch plate decorating, you will need a few essentials:

-Glue (craft glue for layers/household glue for embellishments)
-Glue gun (optional)
-Decoupage coating
-Electrician's tape (for paper projects)
-Brushes (for painting and/or sealing)
-Nail (for poking through surface at screw locations)
-Craft knife
-Sandpaper (to rough up the surface)

Plastic plates will be the most economical option. However, for a working surface that will hold just about any type of craft, wooden plates are best. Check the local hobby supply or home improvement stores for the right sizes. You can also order from online hobby stores.

If you decide to decorate existing plates, be sure to turn off the electric to the outlet first. Unscrew the plate and make sure it is meticulously clean. For best adhesion, rough it up a little with sandpaper.

You do not have to be a skilled artist to paint switch plates. Give the plate a few simple swooshes with enamel craft paints and you'll have an appealing piece of Japanese-style art. Let the kids do their own thing with plates for their rooms; use complementary colors and you may end up with the perfect abstract art switch plate.

Decoupaging is an easy way to decorate. You can use colorful tissue layers and blends for a muted effect. Paste on cutout flower pictures or any favorite item from magazines for a photographic effect. Wallpaper border or fabric scraps make wonderful cover decorations. Be sure to dab the tops of screws in a complementary paint tone so they will blend in.

Do not use paper that is too thick or you'll have trouble with adhesion. Try peeling the back layers off if the paper is particularly thick.

Always cut your papers larger than the actual plate. Glue on, leaving about a half-inch overlap all the way around. Once the glue has dried, use a nail to prick through for screw placement.

Turn the place on its face and use a craft knife to cut an "X" in the hole for the switch. Dab the inside edges with glue and turn the paper inward to make the hole look seamless from the front side. Turn in the half-inch edges on the underside and use electrician's tape to seal the edges.

Add extra dimension to your switch plates with glitter, craft jewels, or any found items. Create borders with the jewels, but leave room in the middle area to feel for the switch in a dark room.

Once the glue has dried, you can finish up with several topcoats of polyurethane sealer, so you'll be able to keep it clean.

Once the plate has thoroughly dried, you can mount your miniature piece of art and turn on the lights!

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