Decoupage: Crafting Your Own Art

Decoupage is a French word meaning “to cut” and is the art of permanently decorating a surface or item with a mixture of different materials. It’s a form of collage that is fashioned by gluing an assortment of colored strips of paper onto objects giving them a more in-depth and unique appearance.

Generally smaller objects such as boxes, vases or picture frames are used and a variety of effects can be achieved with different cutouts of paper, gold leaf, and even fabric. In the past there have been larger pieces of furniture that have been decoupaged such as tables and wardrobes and these can often be found in museums today.

The materials used are glued to the surface by applying several layers at a time and then coating the piece entirely with lacquer, glaze, quick-dry glue or varnish. Traditional decoupage techniques involved dozens of layers that were sanded in-between each step for a more polished and glossy finish.

Decoupage and It’s History

Decoupage originally began centuries ago in Europe where furniture makers began to copy the Asian styles of lacquered furniture. It was a stylish new trend and supply was limited so decoupage artists began copying the techniques to keep up with the demand. In the process, decoupage became an art form of it’s own.

As decoupage was considered to be “a poor man’s art”, many common household items and materials were readily available and used to create new art. Items such as lamps, candles bases, mirrors and plates were the norm.

Today, decoupage is not limited to just wall art. It has regained its popularity and is even used in designer handbags and jewelry.

Common Materials

Materials for decoupage are available in many forms, from tissue papers, greeting cards, fabric, magazines and catalogs. Any kind of material can be used to individualize any piece for a one of a kind object.

Cutting utensils can include scissor, razor blades and a sturdy cutting surface. Glues can be any standard easy-dry craft glue when layering. When it comes to designing your piece, you can make your own motifs or find different patterns for more intricate detail work from books and websites online.

For spreading the glue or varnish, there are popsicle sticks, paint brushes, tooth picks and cotton swabs depending on the size. You can also use sponges and old rags to spread the glue on your piece. To seal the items, you can use polyurethane, acrylic sprays and other lacquers depending on your preference.

Decoupage is hobby that can be enjoyed at any age. It can be a form of art by creating your own hand crafted gifts. It can also be a way to re-purpose old furniture or personalize a favorite piece with a modern twist. The possibilities are endless.