The art of decoupage is quite a straight forward process, involving cutting out a print, arranging a design on your chosen object, gluing it down and varnishing it. The idea is to get a smooth surface to your work, with the paper embedded in layers of varnish. You will find you quickly gain confidence with each project successfully completed. If this is the first time you have attempted decoupage, choose a simple design, without too much intricate cutting, so that you can concentrate on the technique, and the project will be finished much more quickly! Take care over your choice of colour scheme and design, as this will greatly enhance your finished item. For me, the pleasure of decoupage lies in the design, which can be as simple or complex as you decide. The more you do, the more ideas you get. But beware, decoupage can become addictive!
You will need:
- An item to decoupage
- Some printed paper designs, e.g. scraps, wrapping paper, wallpaper, cards, old calendars, prints etc.
- PVA glue, for gluing, and can also be used diluted for sealing prints.
- Sanding sealer, for sealing prints that have been hand coloured, or where printing on the reverse might show through - Acrylic primer/undercoat, for sealing bare wood.
- Emulsion paint for the base coat
- Acrylic paints or coloured pencils for colouring prints (if required)
- Water based varnish
- Polyurethane varnish (optional, but recommended for items subjected to wear and tear)
- Paint brushes, various, for applying glue, paint, and varnish
- Prepare the item to be decorated, using the acrylic primer/undercoat.
- Paint, using emulsion paint in your chosen colour. 2 coats may be needed. Sand lightly between coats. Leave to dry.
- Cut out and arrange your prints on the item. You can use blue tack to hold them in position. If you are using hand coloured prints, seal them with diluted pva, or sanding sealer, prior to cutting.
- When you are happy with your design, glue in place, using either pva glue, or wallpaper paste. Use a damp J cloth or paper towel to smooth over the surface. This ensures that the paper is properly stuck, and no air bubbles are left under the paper. Wipe away excess glue, and leave to dry over night.
- Begin varnishing, using water based varnish, allowing at least 2 hours between coats. Apply 5 coats before sanding down, to prevent damage to the paper. After sanding down, varnish again, sanding after 2 coats. Continue in this way until you are happy with the finish. (As a guide, 9 coats are normally sufficient, but this depends on the thickness of paper you are using).
- At this point you may decide that your project is finished. If you wish, you can lightly sand, and apply 2 coats of polyurethane varnish. Leave to dry overnight and sand lightly between coats. This will give a harder wearing surface. When the varnish is dry you can also wax polish, if desired. This gives a mellow sheen, and depth to the surface.