Decoupage technique

Découpage is the craft of decorating an object with paper cutouts glued in place. If you take the time to apply many coats of varnish over the paper cutouts, they will appear to sink into the surface and will look as though they are part of the object and not merely stuck on. 

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Choose from the wide range of printed papers available: gift wrap, magazine pages, catalogues, and brochures – and even papers with repeat motifs printed specifically for découpage. You can find those specialised papers in any hobby or craft shop.

Choosing your materials

Look for papers that have printed motifs that are separate and do not overlap with other parts of the design. This will provide you with individual elements to cut out. Make sure you have enough of your chosen motifs: buy two or more sheets of paper, if necessary.

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Cutting out the motifs

Rough-cut the paper. This means cutting out each motif roughly, leaving a border of paper all around.

Using small scissors with pointed blades to ensure accuracy, cut out each motif very carefully. For best results, keep the scissors quite static and move the paper, rather than the other way round.

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Make sure you cut away any areas of background within the motif. This is particularly important if, say, the background is white and the object you are sticking the motif onto is coloured.

Arranging and glueing the cutouts

Try out your design before sticking anything down. Move the cutouts around until you are happy with the arrangement. Try all possible combinations, you might be surprised with the results.

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Brush découpage medium or PVA glue diluted with the water to the consistency of thin cream onto the back of each cutout. Make sure each piece is thoroughly covered and there is no dry areas.

Place the glued cutouts in place and smooth out the paper, expelling any air bubbles. Use the same brush you used to apply the medium to the back of the cutouts.

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Varnishing the piece

When the cutout is stuck down, leave it to dry, then apply a coat of clear varnish. You can choose a matt or gloss varnish, depending on the effect you want to achieve. Apply several coats of varnish, allowing each one to dry before applying the next.

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7 Responses to Decoupage technique

  1. Ellie says:

    love your crackle effect on decoupage , I have been looking for tutorials on how to achieve this look but can’t find any , please could you tell me how to achieve crackle effect on decoupage ? Thank you

  2. tamara says:

    Hello Ellie,
    You can have crackle effect on your decoupage by applying a coat of special crackle varnish using a paintbrush. You can find it in any craft shop.
    Hope it helps.

  3. Peggy says:

    Am I understanding here that you are applying the paper with varnish?

    • tamara says:

      No,you are using découpage medium or PVA glue first (to glue the paper). The varnish goes later on dried surface to protect it. You can find various types of varnish in specialised shops (matte, gloss, shiny, shimmer silver, crackle…).
      The best way to know what you like the most is to try.

  4. ANGIE says:

    Can you use photographs the same way?

  5. Sharon says:

    Hi, I would like to use a gifts bags on a painted wood chairs just the seat, is that possible

  6. Elda Carrigan says:

    Very beautiful. Is crackle medium applied before paper or on top of paper? Thanks

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