Traditional decoupage is basically the art of pasting cutouts on a surface and coating them with several coats of varnish. The finished piece is sanded down and made to look as if the cutouts are delicate inlays. It was once referred to as “poor man’s art”.
Nearly everything can be decoupaged but for a beginner it is better to start with a small flat piece such as a wooden picture frame. Once the decoupaging bug hits, everything is fair game!
Look through old magazines and birthday cards for interesting cutouts. You can use tissue paper, wrapping paper, paper shopping bags, scrapbook paper or even leftover wall paper. Gather all your supplies together and bring them to your workspace. Besides cutouts, you will also need a decoupage medium, and a small foam brush. It is also a good idea to keep a damp cloth or wipes on hand because the decoupage medium does get a bit messy. You can find the decoupage medium at most hobby stores and it comes in a variety of styles including antique, glitter, shimmer, sparkle and glow in the dark. You can also make your own decoupage medium by diluting plain white glue with a little water.
Make sure your project is clean and dry before you start. You can either plan your design before you start or just do it as you go. Sometimes it is fun just to place the cutouts haphazardly and see how it turns out. If you are decoupaging the whole project, you may want to make a background of interesting paper and then layer the cutouts on top. With all the pretty patterned scrapbook paper that is available you will definitely find something that catches your eye. Scrapbookers with die cutting machines and dies can use those to make their cutouts.
There is no right or wrong to decoupage. Some people prefer to glue each cutout separately and then place it on the project and others prefer to coat the piece with the decoupage medium and lay down the cutouts on the project. Choose whichever style you feel the most comfortable with. Once you have your paper and cutouts in place, press out any air bubbles that you see with either your fingers or a wooden stick. Let the first coat dry and then add as many coats as desired. If the decoupage medium feels bumpy once it has dried, you can sand it down lightly with sandpaper.
Even though your project may seem dry, most decoupage mediums need a few weeks to cure completely. Follow the directions on the bottle for length of time need to cure and do not use your project until it has dried completely.
Experiment with different papers and designs, thinking outside the box to make beautiful pieces of art. Once you have decoupaged, you will be hooked!