Watering Can Makeover With Decoupage and Napkins

5 Materials
2 Days

Give a watering can a sprinkle of blooms and butterflies using napkins with decoupage. This easy and fun technique works on any surface that you want to refresh and give a spring or blooming makeover!

I hope you’re staying sane while sheltering at home. I’ve found that having some projects to keep your mind and hands busy helps. We’ve been busy gardening. Gardening is good for the soul and you get flowers. . .🌼

With extra time on my hands these days I decided to give a couple of watering cans a makeover using napkins, adding some blooms with a sprinkling of birds and butterflies! I found my napkins at Tuesday Morning back in February with the intention of using them to decorate Easter eggs, but never got around to it. Maybe next year as I only used 2 napkins from each package.

If you’re a reader of my blog, you know I have a *slight* watering can addiction. I had two watering cans that were in a sad state and decided to give them a fresh coat of paint before I began decoupaging, using leftover green chalk paint from a couple of garden projects. On the watering can on the right, I sanded the rusty areas before painting, removing any loose paint chips. A toothpick was an easy way to keep the holes on the rose of the watering cans from sealing closed from the paint. If painting first, allow your project to thoroughly dry at least 24 hours before decoupaging.

In addition to napkins, you’ll need some Mod Podge which will act as a glue and sealer. I used a matte Mod Podge that I had. I prefer matte to the gloss Mod Podge as it highlights wrinkles and my decoupaging imperfections.

Some napkins are 2-ply and others are 3-ply, mine were 3-ply. To start, separate the napkin layers and discard the white layers so you’re working with the top patterned layer. If you have trouble separating the plys, cut or tear your designs first which will make it easier to separate them.

I started cutting the napkins and decided I liked the look of the torn edges better and found it much quicker than cutting. The torn edges also made it easier to separate the layers and remove the middle ply of the napkins that were really stuck.

It’s been years since I decoupaged anything! I found a couple of helpful tips and videos on YouTube to help reduce the wrinkles.

One method is lay your napkin face down on a piece of plastic wrap. I started with plastic wrap and then switched to a clear binder sleeve I had that wasn’t as flimsy. Take a smooth bristle brush and gently brush enough water on your napkin design to carefully smooth out the wrinkles.

When all the wrinkles are smoothed out with water, flip the plastic over and place your design where you want it. This is where using a clear piece of plastic comes in handy.


Transfer the wet napkin by gently peeling it off the plastic and the onto the surface of the watering can.

You don’t have to worry about placing a layer of Mod Podge on the can first using this method. The wet tissue of the napkin clings to the surface of the can and the Mod Podge will transfer through the thin tissue when brushed on top of the napkin, gluing it to the can. I only used this method for the larger design areas of the napkins that I wanted to keep whole and intact.

With the smaller pieces of napkins, I brushed the Mod Podge onto the area of the can where I wanted it and then applied the pieces onto the Mod Podged area.

Smaller pieces are easier to apply and keep wrinkle free. Smooth your torn pieces of napkin out from the center to help reduce wrinkles. Allow the undercoat of the Mod Podge to dry at least 15 minutes before applying a top coat. I switched from a foam brush to a smooth bristle brush which reduced tearing and didn’t ‘grab’ the napkin like the foam brush did.

If you tear your napkin while brushing, don’t panic. Unwrinkle it as gently as possible with your brush or remove the piece while still wet and start over. If you’re covering the surface completely as a collage, allow it to dry, then cover and patch your tear with another piece of napkin.

After your design is complete, apply a top coat of Mod Podge to the entire surface and allow to dry. Brush it on using thin, even strokes. Allow it to dry completely (about an hour) before applying a second coat. For additional durability, spray your finished project with an acrylic sealer and to reduce any tackiness.

There’s a bit a learning curve if you haven’t done this before or if it’s been a while since you’ve decoupaged. The best tip I have is to take your time and not rush. . .easier to do these days when we're all home with more time on our hands. :)

A craft project that keeps your hands and mind busy while you’re stuck at home can be good for your mental health! You can use this technique to decorate any surface…flower pots, birdhouses, furniture...the possibilities are endless. I plan on using my watering cans decoratively indoors but if you plan to use your decoupaged item outdoors, remember to spray with several coats of acrylic sealer to protect it from the elements.

More photos, details and craft projects at the blog link below! Happy Crafting!

Resources for this project:

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Mary @ Home is Where the Boat Is
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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3 of 5 questions
  • Carol D Carol D on Apr 27, 2020

    Love this project. You gave the directions so perfect it will be easy for me to follow. I have checked Amazon for those beautiful napkins but I could not find anything like it. Could you share where you found them? cdolfin@bellsouth.net

  • Gabrielle Falk Gabrielle Falk on May 02, 2020

    You have done an amazing job. I have 2 old watering cans (zinc?). I have them outside as garden 'decor' - both need a serious make-over. What do you think - if I got stick on transfers (that maybe are weather resistant - if there is such a thing) - sticking them on the w. cans, and then put some sort of protective coating over the top. I live in Sydney, Australia and I notice that a lot of products are used that I have never even heard of. Any ideas you can send my way, would be appreciated. Thank You.

  • Db Db on Apr 27, 2021

    So cute! Can I do this with plastic cans ?


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2 of 27 comments
  • Michelle Michelle on Apr 27, 2021

    Just gorgeous! I have the old watering cans as well as florist containers that are vintage. Also have a butterfly paper and and napkins Thanks for the idea.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on May 21, 2021

    These would be a delightful and unique buffet table decoration (filled with flowers) at an outdoor event such as a shower or special birthday.