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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crafts & Hobbies #62: Decoupage

Dictionary.com defines decoupage as “the art or technique of decorating something with cut-outs of paper, linoleum, plastic, or other flat material over which varnish or lacquer is applied” (2009: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/decoupage).

One can decoupage almost anything – ceramics, furniture, plastics, mirrors, cardboard – with almost anything that will adhere to a flat surface with glue or lacquer – paper, fabric, vinyl, and more! Even for those of us who do not feel particularly crafty or artistically inclined, decoupage is fun and can yield amazing results. This post is worth .5 training hours.

For inspiration, one might search Flickr for decoupage. I especially love the decoupage suitcases that pixiegenne does. You could also check out Etsy, an online store of homemade wares, to see what others are doing with decoupage or perhaps to eventually sell your own decoupaged treasures. There are social networking spaces for crafty people as well, such as MyCraft.com or you can share your inspiration and crafts at HGTV online.

Or just do a Google search for decoupage. I love these poster chairs!

HCPL also has several books available on decoupage techniques and project ideas.

Gathering Your Supplies

Mod Podge or diluted white glue

An object you want to practice on

Wrapping paper, magazines, scrapbooking paper, origami paper, construction paper, wallpaper, thin pieces of fabric, etc.


X-acto or utility knife (for cutting detailed pieces)

Paint brush

Popsicle stick or brayer (to smooth out any bubbles)

Polyurethane or acrylic spray sealer (this is optional, but for some projects – such as furniture or suitcases – essential!)

Once you have picked an object you want to decoupage, you will want to make sure you clean the item or, in

some cases, apply a sealant to the item before you begin. If you are working with a wooden piece of furniture, for example, you might need to spackle in deep holes or sand down the piece to get rid of phantom bumps. You might want to repaint or refinish a piece before you begin. Some materials (like wood or metal) might best be decoupaged with a fresh coat of primer.

Everyone approaches a craft project slightly differently. Some plan the entire project from beginning to completion. I, personally, plan section by section. Others fly by the seats of their pants and let the choices they’ve made so far guide the end result. For those who do not particularly like to plan, I recommend at least placing your cut-out pieces on your object before making the final decision to glue it all down. Because many decoupage projects involve layering pieces and many of the cut-outs are paper, once they’ve been glued together, second-guessing a decision can lead to ripped paper and starting over from the beginning (yes, I speak from experience).

Ready for the fun?

Follow the instructions on your Mod Podge or dilute white glue with water in a bowl.

Grab your paint brush and apply glue to the surface and (or possibly) the back of your cut-out.

Try to place your cut-out evenly to avoid ripples in your cut-outs. Smooth each cut-out using your brayer, popsicle stick, or your finger, rubbing from the middle out toward the edges. Repeat with each piece. If you are layering pieces, you want to make sure that the glue from previous layers has dried before proceeding.

Once you are happy with the appearance of your decoupage masterpiece, let the object dry completely.

If you wish to add a sealant to your decoupage (which I recommend because it really makes all of your cut-outs and layers appear like a seamless whole), you can use a specialty decoupage sealer, varnish or lacquer. When applying multiple coats of sealant, let each coat dry completely before proceeding to the next.

Sand your sealed object between each few coats of sealant for best results. Obviously you want to make sure your object is completely covered in sealant before sanding.



Post to your blog a discussion of your experience with decoupage; what kinds of objects did you create? If you have not yet had the pleasure to decoupage, do you think you will? What projects, if any, look interesting to you? What projects did you run across in your search of Etsy, Google, or Flickr?

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This post was brought to you by Meredith Layton

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