Decoupage, a fun craft you can do at home, often using materials you already have, is an art form where you layer paper cut outs and use varnish to seal them onto an object. Started in Japan, decoupage became all the rage in Europe and now it’s a popular crafting activity. It’s considered the poor man’s art because it uses scraps and bits to create something beautiful.
Before you start your decoupage project, get all of your supplies together and formulate a plan of action of some sort. Look online for great ideas and themes and get tips for the specific item you are choosing to decoupage. For example, if you are decoupaging a shoe box, you could use vintage stamps. However, while you could use vintage stamps to decoupage a dresser, it would take forever. Similar material versus object considerations should be kept in mind.
Start by deciding on a theme for your decoupage and cutting out enough scraps and pictures to cover your object. You can cut out pictures from magazines and catalogs or use actual photos, newspaper or print outs. You can even use scraps and shapes of patterned paper. Find your inspiration from books, printed clip art, wrapping paper, greeting cards, fabric, tissue paper, the comics or whatever else is cool and hip to you. Decoupage involves layering. In fact, traditional decoupage takes 30-40 scattered layers, so you’ll need a good amount of materials. You are not doing solid layers but rather doing sporadic layers, and then doing layers over layers in a different pattern, and then again, until the whole surface is covered.
Next, choose the item you are going to decoupage. This could be furniture, shoe boxes, photo albums, plywood, plates, ceramics, vases, shelving, frames or mirrors, among other things. The list is endless and the goal, ultimately, is to have fun. Just make sure that the surface of your object of choice is clean and dry so that your paper will adhere well and last.
Now, you need glue. Craft stores have glue specifically for decoupage; you can also slightly dilute white school glue. Regardless of which type of glue you use, make sure when you apply it, do so sparingly. Also, use a smoothing tool, like a Popsicle stick or a rolling pin, to remove any wrinkles. If need be, wipe over the area with a rag after to pull out any extra glue that is hanging out.
Once the item is dried, varnish it. You can use polyurethane, a spray on acrylic or glue. Your local craft store will have decoupage varnishes and sealers. Again, let it dry, then do your second layer and repeat this step. Repeat this process until you’ve completed your layering.
Let your final coat dry, then sand it down and polish it up and, viola, you have a beautifully decoupaged object to display in your home.