One of the crafty methods we use to produce some of the giftware we sell is decoupage. Simply put it’s decorating things with paint and bits of paper but it’s a very fiddly thing to do right and like anything it takes practice and patience to build your skills.
I started decoupaging during sheilding in the pandemic as we had cleared out my grandma’s house shortly before and she had huge hoards of decoupage papers which had been split between my mum and me as we love crafting. I thought I would give it a try and i found it to be very relaxing.
It helped me to calm down at the end of a hectic day of home schooling 3 kids and after doing my little man’s respiratory physio for the evening. I started with recycling jars to be pen pots, small vases or tealight holders. I love doing milk bottles with cow designs but my favourite so far is the three monkeys design I did on a Monkey Shoulder Whisky bottle recently.
Where did decoupage start?
Decoupage is thought to have started as East Siberian tomb art. Tribes in the area used cut-out felts to decorate the tombs of their deceased. As these tribes migrated over time the practice came to China, and by the 12th century, cut out paper was being used to decorate lanterns, windows and other beautiful objects.
Decoupage or découpage is the art of decorating any object by gluing paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf, and other decorative elements. Commonly, an object like a small box, glass jar or item of furniture is covered by cutouts from magazines, napkins or from specialist decoupage papers. Decoupage can even be done using lightweight fabric and this is especially useful on furniture.
What is needed to decoupage?
It’s not an expensive hobby to start but be warned! As with most crafts it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of buying all of the pretty options out there and in the case of decoupage it’s the pretty napkins that get you hooked.
I started out with a small bottle of white chalk paint, a sponge dabber, scissors, a pretty butterfly napkin, a paint brush, mod podge (glossy) and a coffee jar thoroughly washed out and label removed.
I painted the jar with the white chalk paint by stippling the paint onto the jar which gives it a slightly rough finish and helps the papers to stick better for beginners. I had to do two coats and leave 24 hours to dry between coats which was annoying as i really wanted to get stuck into the fun bit.
Once the paint was dry i cut the sections i wanted to use out of my napkin then tore them jaggedly on the edges so they blend better onto the bottle. be careful to make sure each is only the top ply (layer of tissue) it’s super thin and delicate especially when wet so handle with care. Apply some mod podge to the area of the jar you want the paper to be attached to.
Then very carefully apply the paper peice over the mod podge be careful not to get any folds or bubbles in the paper and use your paint brush with some more mod podge on it to smooth the paper out and seal the edges down. Repeat this process until you have applied all the peices of paper you wish to then allow it to dry overnight.
When dry apply a thin layer of mod podge over the top of the entire surface of the jar to varnish it and to make it an even finish all over. Let that dry then it’s ready to use.
Lots of crafters like to finish jars off with something around the neck as the grooves for the screw top can look unsightly. There are lots of different ways you can do this either with a simple ribbon and tie in a bow, old fashioned fabric circle over the top and tied with a thin ribbon or string (think granny’s jam jars) which is really popular at the moment. You could paint around the top with a different colour, you can wrap coloured twine around it or even cover with gold leaf.
Things I’ve learnt along the way
- You don’t have to use mod podge, slightly watered down kids PVA glue does the job too and is more cost effective.
- using a damp paint brush to do the making edges of the napkin peices jagged works really well to thin it out so it blends better with the paint on the object.
- if you want to make your item waterproof you can use decorators varnish instead
- For coasters you need heat proof varnish and leave to cure for 3 days minimum before use to prevent the hot cups sticking to coaster.
- There are some great facebook groups for napkin purchasing where you can purchase single ones.
- you can use spray chalk paint to coat the glass first to give a smoother and more even finish but it makes it harder to blend the edges of the napkin properly. You still need to do 2 coats 24 hours apart but its much quicker to do each coat.
- to avoid having to wait around for as long to get to the fun bit paint your items in bulk so you have a messy painting session and do say first coat on 10 bottles each time you need to paint and when you do 2nd coat on them add in another few bottles for first coat so you always have some ready to go to get your decoupage fix when you want it.
I hope this has explained a bit more of some of what we make and if you give it a go we would love to see your projects too so feel free to share them with us on social media 🙂