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Decoupage is a simple, creative and satisfying craft medium. With minimal materials you can easily and with professional results decorate almost any surface.
Simply defined, decoupage is the art of cutting out patterns of paper or other plate material and then applying it in a decorative pattern to a surface and coating with varnish or glue.
Dating from the 12th century Asia, decoupage became hugely popular in Victorian England, where fashionable flowers, cherubs and heart motifs were applied to furniture, screens and lamps. The word decoupage came into use in the 20th century and is based on the French word decouper, or "cutting".
Modern decoupage crafters have successfully applied patterns on paper, wood, metal, glass, terracotta, plastic, wax candles, ceramics, cardboard, eggshells, stone materials and much more. Almost all surfaces, with proper preparation, can be relaxed.
Basic Decoupage Supplies
- A clean and dust-free surface or an object to decorate
- Decorative pictures
- Scissors or craft knife
- Collagen glue or medium such as Mod Podge OR waterproof white glue
- Foam Brush
- Brayer (optional)
- Fine-grained sandpaper (for some surfaces)
- Varnish (optional)
- Painted wooden surfaces - Light sand surface with nice background. Clean completely before relaxing.
- Unfinished wooden surfaces - Decoupage material can be applied directly to clean and dust-free unfinished wooden surfaces. If color is desired, paint the wood first and let it dry for at least 24 hours. If color is sticky at all, do not cover. The color must be completely dry for this technology to work.
- Smart plastic surfaces - Materials will not do well to slide plastic, so give a little "tooth" by sanding with fine sandpaper and dry completely clean. If you are unsure, try first.
- Stone or stone - Thoroughly clean the surface of dirt or dust and cry completely. The smoother and smoother the surface, the easier it will be to decoupage, especially for beginners.
Sources for decorative images
Most flat materials can work for decoupage. Think of these sources: paper, paper, scrapbooking, seed packs, menus, ticket stumps, napkins, wallpapers, old book pages, magazines, pressed flowers, ribbons, photographs, greeting cards, cloths, stickers, posters, calendars, maps, doilies and more.
Basic Decoupage Instructions
- Prepare the surface if necessary. See prep tips above.
- Cut out pictures. Traditional decoupage included fine detailed and accurate cutting, but modern patterns often include worn images and patterns.
- Design designs before decomposing. The most appealing design may need overlapping cutouts.
- Coating surface with decoupage medium with foam brush.
- Coat the back of the cut out with medium.
- Gently apply to the surface, squeezing from the center of the piece to the edges to minimize bubbles and wrinkles.
- Use a brayer to plan the image as much as possible. Fingers can be just as effective for this step.
- If bubbles are formed, gently pop them with a pin and smooth them out.
- Let the piece dry. Apply a coat of decoupage medium to the entire surface and allow to dry. Repeat until the surface has several layers. The most professional finish has no or least raised edges from cutouts.
- If desired, lacquered piece according to the instructions on the bottle. This seals the design and gives a more finished look. It also protects items that will be widely used.
- For the most professional finished project, light sand and dry clean between the paint until it is completely smooth.
- Allow all substances to dry properly between applications: color, decoupage medium and varnish.
- Do not use inkjet images because the ink will be smart. Make color photocopies instead.
- Do not use original photographs so that they can be preserved. Make color photocopies.
- Some materials such as napkins and very thin tissue paper are sensitive and require a light touch to prevent them from tearing.
- Decoupage medium comes in matte and glossy surface. Think of this for the final design.
- Rinse mushroom brushes immediately.
Decoupage is fun and easy. Try these basic decoupage techniques and create professional results.