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Decoupage: The Art of Mod Podge

Decoupage: The Art of Mod Podge

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Decoupage is one of those fabulously deceptive forms of art. That's right, when you're friends see your decoupage artwork, they will swear that it is a terribly complicated process, and must have taken you weeks to complete. In reality, decoupage is a simple and enjoyable project that you can do in just a short time. In fact, you probably learned the basics of decoupage back in pre-k. The basis of decoupage is cutting and gluing small pieces of paper onto whatever it is you are decoupaging. This can be jewelry boxes, picture frames, notebooks, photo albums, accessories, baby books, vases or even furniture items. If you are very artistic, decoupage can make an interesting back splash or room divider. Decorate your home with decoupage coasters, dinnerware or a nameplate for the front door. Be creative and you'll really have some fun with this project.

There are two methods to decoupage art. The at home decoupage version is a fun and easy project that can be done entirely with things you probably have around the house. The store bought method replaces the at home versions of various tools and supplies with specially designed decoupage items. Since the at home version works fairly well, though, there is really no great need to spend the extra cash.

1. The first step is finding an item you want to decoupage. Again this can be anything around the house that you want to spice up or revamp; a mirror, a nightstand, or a child's school notebook. Just make sure the surface is smooth. Large gaps or ridges will interfere with the project. Also make sure the item is clean and dust-free. You can take a damp cloth and run it over the surface and edges of your project. Allow a few minutes to dry.

2. Next, you need to cut out your pictures. One of the best parts of decoupage is the randimity of the design. You can cut out pictures from anywhere to use. Wild patterns, scenic shots or even poems, jokes or catchy phrases can be used to create your decoupage art. Fabric swatches, wallpaper, wrapping paper, shopping bags, you name it! As long as the material is thin enough to be 'tamed' by the glue, it is fair game.

3. Now you can begin sticking the cutouts onto your project. You can use decoupage medium (found in any craft store) or everyday white glue. Dilute the glue (about 3 parts glue to 1 part water) if you find it difficult to work with. You can either apply the adhesive to the back of the cutout and/or on the area it will be placed. [Note: if you find that your pictures are not adhering to the surface, you can apply a primer coat. This can be a simple layer of latex paint.] Press the pictures down slowly and firmly to the surface, moving slowly from the center of the picture to ensure no air bubbles or creases get stuck. Wipe away excess glue with a damp cloth.

4. Once all the pictures are glued down, and the glue has dried, you are going to apply several coats of adhesive onto the entire surface of your project. Spread the adhesive on with a q-tip (though bits may come off and get stuck on the project if the cotton is too soft), popsicle stick, small paintbrush, or professional brayer. Lacquer or varnish can also be used for an attractive sheen. The number of topcoats you use will produce varying results and effects, so experiment with the different textures. Let each coat dry before applying the next. The end results looks as if the pictures had been painted rather than glued onto the surface.

Some people prefer to sand down the project lightly when it is completely dry. This gives a totally smooth and finished look and feel to the project.

TIP: A 3-D effect can be achieved by gluing your cutouts onto the surface on different layers. One or several layers of topcoat should separate each layer. What this means is instead of gluing all the pictures on and then coating the entire project, glue a few pictures. Then coat the entire project. Glue a few more. Coat again. Repeat the process to produce your 3-D decoupage.

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