Carved chairs, mirror frames painted, carved or hand worked by apparently angel artitians. When you see certain furniture pieces and how beautifully decorated they are with decoupage, price becomes the first question in your head. Was it made by someone famous? Was it handmade? How long could it possibly take to achieve such details? Of course, the answer to all these questions leads to the fact that such work is both beautiful and for sure it must be expensive.
But fear not dear reader! There is an option, budget wise, that could achieve your dream furniture without leaving your credit card on red numbers. Today your budget saviour’s name is “Decoupage or Découpage”. Since the 18th century, Artisans in Italy have created decorative objects using decoupage. Using several techniques already known in Florence, they produced furniture, frames for paintings and cover for books. They called it The Florentine Style Crafthand.
Yes! The art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cut outs onto the object’s surface, which can be combinated with special paint effects and many other decorative elements.
Decoupage: Decorating never was this easy.
“Decouper” It means cutting out or cutting from something. It was born in the East of Siberian when the local start to use it as an art to decorate the tombs of their fallen beloved ones. Then the Asian continent was invaded for its beauty and the practice started following the same patterns used for the Siberian nomad tribes. By the 12th century decouper wasn’t known by that name yet, but the decorative method was used on lanterns, windows, boxes, and many other objects.
Until the 17th century in Italy, when the many aristocrats gave it the name of The Florentine Style Crafthand. Venice; known as the capital of fashion and showcase, was specially involved with this sort of decorative process in order to create sceneries and sell them.
Time to Create! Materials and Step by Step Decoupage DIY.
1. What to Decoupage?
The first thing to consider during the decoupaging process is the base, or better said, the object or piece of furniture you want to decorate. There are not many limitations on this matter, and the possible complications would be depending on the combinations you are planning to use. Like trying to stamp paper on a pair of sneakers.
Among the possible objects to work with you might consider: plastic, metal, ceramic, glass, paper, a canvas of wood, some old furniture like chairs or even tables. In fact you could turn your dinning room table into something beautiful using decoupage and then protecting the final result with a 3mm or 5mm glass, this way you get your work protected from those meal accidents and keep the piece of furniture quiet fancy.
Some people have used decoupage on trash cans, vases, boxes and even sneakers. In the case of the sneakers consider using pieces of cloth instead of paper and sewing instead of gluing.
2. Preparing the Item
After selecting the piece you want to work with, you need to make sure it is on perfect conditions to be worked on. The base object has to be clean of dirt, old paint, or anything that could be on the surface from its previous presentation. Once properly cleaned; if you desire to paint the object before starting the decoupaging process, make sure to let the paint rest for 24 hours or a bit longer, this way you are assured the paint is totally dry and fixed to the object’s surface.
3. Time to “Couper”
With the item already prepared, it is time to decide the design of the couper. For this part, you need to think about the material. Remember decoupage does not limit you to cut outs alone, in fact you can use pictures from many sources, you can use old pieces of cloth, newspapers, magazines, photo albums, old books, wallpaper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, catalogs greeting cards, fabric or printed clip art, anyways almost everything. In some craft stores you could buy specially made paper for decoupage.
Another good option is to use a good printer, surf the internet and print your own images, this will give the final result a more customized, unique look. In fact, there won’t be another piece like yours on earth!
Tip: make sure you use a sharp scissor or blade for cutting the pieces you plan to use. Tilt the cutting edge slightly towards the outside to give the paper a beveled edge and avoid the hard, raw edges caused by straight up-and-down cuts that can cause the underside colors to show.
4. Arrangement and creative process!
Once all the pieces are cut out on your work table, you come to the process of deciding the design. There is no fixed rule to such arrangement; it all comes down to how you desire it to look like, if you consider some pictures should overlap then make them overlap, just imagine you are creating a collage.
Be creative! Keep in mind that at this stage of the process none of the pictures are sealed to the object, which means you can replace them, change the style the shapes the looks, everything until you are satisfied with the looks of it.
In case you want to modify something after gluing; most pieces will come off with some warm water, provided this removing process is done before the pieces are completely sealed.
5. The Perfect Glue!
Apart from the items that will be used to decorate, the main ingredient to this process is, indeed, the adhesive you are going to use to attach the pictures on the base item. There is inexpensive decoupage medium which is an adhesive that can be bought at any craft store. But you could use diluted white glue as well. Just add some a little water to the white glue to make it thinner. I recommend you to use PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) which works on a lot of surface and it will not chip easily, yet humidity can ruin the adhesive.
Based on the many adhesive options and how they work with environment, you should consider both the quality and possibilities of each adhesive according to the conditions in which the object is going to be exposed. But always think green!
6. Applying the Adhesive
Second handed make-up brushes; sponges, brushes, cotton swabs and almost anything like paper would do just fine. Make sure whatever you use to apply the glue is clean and free from any sort of dust.
If you going to decoupage a plate or any other object that is not going to be used for decorative purposes only, the best way is to apply the glue on opposite side of the object, the side that’s not going to be used.
First of all; thin the glue with some water and then stir it using the brush. Once the glue is thinned apply it on the back part of the cut outs and paste it on the object. Then cover the cut outs over with more glue and do not worry if you go over the edges of the surface.
Remember your options are not only on paper and glue! If you are planning on using pieces of cloth you can either glue or sew them. If you are going to sew be sure to do it piece by piece, you can also take advantage of the border left by the process of sewing to decorate your decoupage even more.
8. Sealing your creation!
The sealing process is optional since the glue keeps the design attached and works as a covering layer. However; depending on the surface you might need a sealer such as varnish.
When you are going to apply the sealer cover all the surface from one end to the other and make sure that the layer is very thick. Since you want the sealer to protect your final work from any source of damage.
These are the basic notions to decoupage a simple object or surface. If you feel more daring on your creative process; there are some options you could try.
Decoupage with Toile de Jouy print
Decoupage had its apogee in Venice! Hence; the best option to create a decorative environment worthy of its origin is Toile de Jouy or any kind of wallpaper left overs that you have lying around the house.
The most outstanding feature of wallpaper is the fact they already come with adhesive which means you can use the whole thing in one surface like a piece of glass or your furniture. Keep in mind that using wallpaper without cutting it out into many pieces as it is expected on a classical decoupage finish, it would just look like a wall. In order to avoid that use the common steps on decoupage creating the design with cut outs from the wallpaper and sealing the final product with many layers of varnish or any other sort of sealer of your preference.
The sealer applied to the decoupaged object will make the object look darker than a wall decorated with the same wallpaper. Hence the difference between the dark tones of the decoupage and the wall will make the decorated object to be highlighted while staying in harmony with the decoration of the hall.