Despite its complicated sounding French name, decoupage is one of the easiest crafts to do that can produce some the most stunning results. In its simplest form, decoupage is basically just cutting and pasting, so if you can handle that you can make some beautiful pieces of art using decoupage.
Basically, in decoupage you simply cut out pictures and glue them onto an object, then coat the object and the pictures with several coats of glue or decoupage medium to protect them. One of the greatest things about decoupage is that it is cheap, or often times nearly free to do making it a great craft project to do on a budget.
All you need to get started with decoupage is some white glue, which can be used as your decoupage medium, a small paintbrush or a cotton swab to spread the glue, a popsicle stick or other flat object for smoothing out any wrinkles, and some scissors or a craft knife to cut out your pictures. If you prefer, you can also buy supplies made specifically for doing decoupage like decoupage medium, foam brushes, small rollers for removing wrinkles and a variety of other handy tools.
Next, you need an object to decoupage onto. You can decoupage just about anything including furniture, photo albums, boxes, candleholders, vases, picture frames…basically any solid surface. Once you find an object to decoupage make sure it is free from dust and dirt before you start gluing onto it. You may also want to put a coat of paint on it if you don’t plan to cover the whole surface with decoupage so that the parts that are still showing and not covered with pictures will still look nice.
Lastly, you need pictures! Use pictures or words from magazines, catalogs, gift wrap, greeting cards, fancy papers, books or newspapers. You can also use fabric. If you are going to use photographs it’s probably a good idea to either scan them into your computer and print them out on paper or get a good quality copy made of them. Photo paper is a little bit thick to use in decoupage and oftentimes doesn’t cooperate and do what you want it to. To really open up your options, you can also print photos or clipart that you find online to use in your decoupage project. Just use your imagination and you’ll come up with a ton of different places you can find great pictures to use in your artwork.
Now that you’ve gathered everything together you can begin! First, cut out any pictures you want to use and arrange them how you want them on your object. The pictures can either be placed separately or they can overlap like a collage. Once you know where everything is going to go, you can start gluing the pictures onto your object.
Take a picture and “paint” the glue onto the entire back of the picture. You may also want to apply a coat of glue to the object where you plan to place the picture. Next, set the picture onto your object and smooth it on. If you are using a larger sized picture, smooth from the inside of the picture toward the outside edges to remove any air bubbles or wrinkles. Continue doing this until you have all of your pictures placed on your object in the pattern you want. Now, let the glue dry completely.
Once the glue has dried, you need to seal your piece. You can do this either by adding multiple layers of the same white glue over the top, or you can use varnish or a spray lacquer to seal the piece. You’ll want to keep adding layers of sealer until the edges of the pictures are flush and smooth with the surface.
Here are some fun project ideas to get you started:
Make a decoupage lampshade
Decoupage a Pair of Shoes (see photo at beginning of article)
Decorate an end table
Try decoupaging a light switch cover
Create a crafty salt and pepper shaker set
Decoupage a pretty mirror frame
Use your imagination and see what else you can come up with!