Ways & How

How to Decoupage

How to Decoupage

Many individuals are interested in learning how to decoupage because this form of artwork is gaining popularity these days. As a craft, decoupage mainly involves cutting materials and pasting or gluing them to any object you wish to decorate. If desired, you can use lacquer formula or varnish as a finish so that the entire artwork looks glossy and attractive. If you can make the cut-outs look as if they are hand-painted or drawn on the object rather than pasted, the better it is. During the 12th century, decoupage became a trend in China. Later in the 17th century, the art became well-known among Italian and French artists. Madame de Pompadour and Marie Antoinette were just a few of the famous personalities before that fell in love with this craft. Remarkably, when Mary Delaney turned 71 years old, she rose to fame in England in the 18th century; Queen Charlotte and George III honored her as a notable decoupeur during that time. Today, almost any household item can be decoupaged, and the artistic designs you can choose from are actually endless. If this sparks an idea, then read through the following guidelines.

  1. Prepare the materials needed. With this art form, you can use every "useless'' material around, including tissue papers, wrapping paper, old cards, old paper bags, rice bags, magazines, or pieces of thin fabric. If you are working on a curved object, it is suggested that you use soft materials.

    For the surface, use wood, plastic, ceramic, or metal. You'll also need sufficient amount of glue and water, and lacquer formula or varnish if desired. Don't forget to prepare a small paintbrush or pieces of cotton swab, and a small roller. For sanding, 400 grit sandpaper is appropriate. To cut the materials, you can use either a razor blade, craft knife, or scissors.

  2. Work on the cut-outs. Try to be artistic when cutting out the designs, although you can just tear them into pieces. For better results, however, use scissors or a knife to cut out the desired shapes and designs and also to trim the edges.

  3. Organize the materials. This is where you can test your creativity. Most artists have said that it is better to have a design first before gluing the cut-outs over the surface of the object to be decoupaged. Arrange the cut-outs in any manner; they can overlap or lay side by side. In case you are not pleased with the results, just redo it until you achieve the desired design. Don't forget to take a photo of your design, so you have a guide later on in gluing.

  4. Clean the surface of the object. Use sand paper in order to remove excess bumps on the surface. To correct any imperfections, you can paint the object, especially if you are working on a wood surface. Latex paint is suggested if you are working on a metal surface. This technique allows the cut-outs to stick better.

  5. Put on the glue. Mix a ratio of 50 percent water and 50 percent white glue. Use a closed jar so you can properly shake the mixture. Use either a cotton swab or a small paintbrush in applying the glue. Start with the surface of the object and make sure to evenly apply the glue. Then, spread the glue onto the backs, including the edges, of the cut-outs.

  6. Attach the cut-outs to the surface. Look at the photo you took earlier; start pasting cut-outs to the center of the surface. With every cut-out, make sure to remove the crumpled portion by rubbing it with your roller. Repeat until the entire surface is completed. If you prefer an overlapping design, paste a few layers of cut-outs while observing the same gluing process.

  7. Remove imperfections. After the glue is completely dry, trim the edges of the surface to get rid of the excess; this will give your decoupage a cleaner appearance. Then put on several coats (10 to 12 coats) of lacquer formula or varnish. The technique is to wait until every coat is dry before applying the next coat; this will make your artwork more attractive.

  8. Sand the surface. This is optional. If you want, just make sure that the surface is completely dry with the sealant formula. Use sandpaper to take away any blemishes or blots on the surface.

The techniques on how to decoupage may be deceptive, but there is nothing complicated about the art. Anyone can do it since the process is entirely simple and basic. As long as you know how to cut the materials and paste them appropriately, then you are well on your way with decoupage.


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