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Tips and Techniques / DECOUPAGE FOR BEGINNERS

DECOUPAGE FOR BEGINNERS

Using Decoupage when upcycling furniture is a quick and easy way to create decorative effects on furniture and accessories. Personalise your furniture, and home decor with decoupage, or create fun and personalised gifts for your friends and family. We have listed below some frequently asked questions.

WHAT IS DECOUPAGE? 

Decoupage gets its name from the French art of pasting paper on objects. It involves a special technique where glue is applied with the paper layer after the final layer is applied, the object looks as if it is painted rather than paper pasted. Depending on the quality of the paper, the effects of decoupage are stunning.

WHAT MATERIALS AND TOOLS WILL I NEED?

You can use pretty much anything, from pretty papers you have collected, postcards, tissues , photos you name it you can use; however, you need to test them first. Special decoupage papers like rice paper and decoupage tissue paper have special dyes, tear and fold beautifully and don’t react to the glue and varnishes.

Napkins

Due to the designs that napkins come with and the lighter paper they are made out of, they are a great option to use for decoupage. Cut out the design before taking apart the layers of the napkins and then use a single layer for the decoupage, generally the tissue paper has 2-3ply that needs to be removed.

Rice Paper 

Also known as Mulberry paper, Lokta paper, shoji paper and Xuan paper.

These papers are thin but very robust. Cut out the desired image and adhere to your object with a decoupage glue such as royal coat decoupage glue or rice paper glue The images appear most vibrant when applied over white or light colours.

Card stock

Card stock comes in many designs but is a lot thicker which can give a 3D appearance.

Photos

Photo decoupage works great for adhering your own photos to an object. Just add decoupage glue to the surface, add your photo and then add more adhesive over the top to smooth the photo down to the object When decoupaging with photos make sure they are from a laser printer not an ink-jet printer as a photo from an ink-jet printer can smudge with the decoupage application.

Fabric

The best fabric to use is a  lighter fabric it will work better as it will allow the decoupage to seep into the fabric and stay there.

Scissors

A pair of sharp scissors so you get clean-cut edges.

Craft knife 

For detailed areas make sure it has a sharp blade otherwise it will tear the paper.

Brush

For the application of the decoupage glue and a second brush is a great way to smooth out any wrinkles. The other option is using your finger, a sponge or glad wrap rolled into a ball.

Soft sponge/cloth

To wipe away excess glue

Sandpaper

For sanding the layers of varnish for a smooth finish

BEST SURFACES TO DECOUPAGE? 

A multitude of surfaces can be used for decoupage, including wood, chipboard, metal, ceramic, glass and stiff plastics. The key is to use a surface that will retain its shape and surface after wet decoupage mediums, glues and varnishes have been applied and dry. Porous surfaces that may warp when wet must be sealed prior to beginning the process.

WHAT IS THE BEST GLUE FOR DECOUPAGE? 

Decoupage mediums vary by formulation, finish, consistency, application use and drying time. While they all have the correct consistency for application, some decoupage mediums work best on porous surfaces while others are designed to work equally well on both porous and nonporous surfaces. We have had great results using Royal Coat Decoupage Glue  Rice Paper Glue.  

WHAT COULD I DECOUPAGE?

Tables, chairs, bookshelf, headboard, shelving, desk, doors, walls, coffee table, knobs, mason jars, glass plates, candlesticks, ornaments, bowls, vases, and other containers, mirror picture frames ceramic tiles, lamp bases, terracotta pots, tin cans and so much more.

HOW DO YOU REMOVE AIR BUBBLES? 

Any remaining air bubbles can be pricked with a pin to release air or either rollover with a roller or gently smoothed it down.

DO YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE FIRST LAYER TO DRY BEFORE ANOTHER LAYER? 

Yes. Always allow the decoupage finish to dry well between each coat. The time this takes will vary depending on the temperature of your room, how thick the layer of decoupage finish is and how thick the paper is.

HOW MANY COATS ARE REQUIRED? 

This is entirely dependent on the look you wish to achieve, anything from one layer to as many as it takes for a professional look. If you wish your piece to look more embedded, give your piece further layers of decoupage finish.

HOW DO I DECOUPAGE AROUND CURVED SURFACES AND CORNERS? 
Curved Surfaces

To apply a flat print to a curved surface, cut slits in the paper wherever it will buckle. Let the paper on each side of the slits overlap as you carefully conform the print to the curved surface.

Corners

Before applying any glue, fold the print around the corners of the project surface as you would wrap a package, creasing along the edges to mark them on the print. Rather than overlapping the paper as if wrapping a package, cut away excess paper. The new edges of the paper will meet at the corner. You can also remove overhangs after the application with sandpaper, make sure you sand the edges outwards to avoid damaging your decoupage.

APPLICATION
Prep the surface

For best results you must have a clean surface free of dust, and oil dirt  If you are decoupaging glass, clean it with rubbing alcohol or glass cleaner, and use a lint-free cloth to dry it. You can paint your object if desired, but be sure to let the paint completely dry before applying images.

Cutting the image

If you use tissue paper make sure you cut the image before separating the ply, it makes it easier to handle. Make sure your items will fit the way you want before beginning the gluing process. The decoupage medium dries very quickly and once you attach a piece, you run a risk of tearing it if you try to move or remove it.

Gluing

Starting with small sections at a time apply a thin layer of decoupage medium glue onto the item you are decoupaging. Make sure you completely cover any area the image will touch. Place your image onto the area using your fingers to push it down onto the glue starting from the centre and work your way. With a soft brush or a sponge, push out any wrinkles and excess glue. Continue with this process until you have glued your images to your object.

Let the decoupage glue dry thoroughly.

If you are using pictures on thicker paper, such as photos or greeting cards, they can take longer to dry.

Watch for bubbles as it dries. If one forms, use a pin to pop it and then use your fingers to smooth it down. Once it is dry coat your item thoroughly with another layer of glue and let this dry. You can continue this process until you have achieved the look you desire.

Seal

When it comes to glue most people are too impatient with it. You need to make sure it is dry before you seal it, for best results leave it overnight, if you don’t do this you may end up with a slightly tacky finish.

If you are new to decoupaging then we recommend that for your first project choose a flat surface such as trays, small tabletops, and flat chair seats then gradually progress to more detailed surfaces.