Intro to Decoupage

My girls needed additional toy storage for their playroom, so I purchased a basic cube storage organizer (sold at Wal-Mart, Target, and Big Lots for $20-$50, depending on the size.)  I wanted it to be CUTE, however, so I shopped around for decorative contact paper.  I couldn’t find anything that didn’t look absolutely destined for a kitchen drawer or pantry.  So, I decided to decoupage with scrapbook paper!
Decoupage involves applying cutouts of paper or photos to a surface, and then coating them with a sealer/finish. Typically decoupage art is more creative than this…meaning, not quite so geometric, but rather more random. I am a lover of right angles, however, (if it’s not a right angle, it’s a wrong angle!) so I chose to collage the paper horizontally and vertically.
If you’ve never decoupage’d before (as I hadn’t when I took on this project), here are a few tips.  I have since embellished a few other things using this technique (pictures to follow), and naturally, my abilities improve with each project.
  • Hobby Lobby or Michael’s (among others) has tons of adorable scrapbook paper in a wide variety of themes and patterns.
  • The scrapbook aisle of these stores will also have other paper images you could incorporate and overlay with the paper. Flowers, birds, sports, etc. You don’t have to cover the surface completely, as I did, but rather you can simply lay a few things you like in strategic places.
  • So how do you seal the paper to your surface?  I recommend Mod Podge.  A medium-sized bottle is about $5 and will be plenty for most projects.  I prefer the matte variety (yellow bottle).  I have seen homemade mod podge recipes online, but for all the effort it involves, I prefer to buy it.
  • The Mod Podge website has tutorials and tips for how to use their products.
  • You will need a paintbrush or foam brush (I prefer the latter) to spread the mod podge on the back of your paper. Then, carefully place the paper where you want it, and smooth it out with your hand, a book spine or a foam roller.
  • While you do want to ensure adequate coverage, it is important that you do not put too much mod podge on the paper, or it will cause the paper to become soggy or to bubble too much.  Bubbling is a common issue regardless, so you will want to smooth out the paper immediately following placement.  Craft stores sell foam rollers (looks like a paint roller, but it’s about the size of your hand) and it is a huge help in smoothing out your paper to avoid bubbles.  Avoiding bubbles is probably the biggest headache and learning curve where decoupage is concerned.
  • Once you have applied all of your paper, using your paint brush (a fresh one if the other one has become too sticky) apply a coat of mod podge over the entire design.  Just as if you were painting.  You might choose to do another coat once the first has dried, but in the case of my project above, I didn’t feel that it was necessary.
  • I highly recommend first practicing on a shoebox or another surface to get the hang of the sealer!
  • For some projects, you may not need to paint the mod podge on the back of your paper, first.  If you are just placing a few small paper scrapbook images onto a piece of furniture, for example, you could just place them where you want them, and carefully paint the sealer over them. In this case, I’m sure you will need more than one coat of the sealer.  I find that placing the sealer on the reverse side helps it to stay in place while I’m sealing the finished product.
Once I finished the toy storage, I saw possibilities everywhere for other projects I could tackle.  I bought a small pine shelf for $15 on a Facebook garage sale group, painted it, and decoupaged the shelves.  In this case, I chose one design of scrapbook paper, and tore it up into random sizes/lengths and placed it randomly.  It’s difficult to tell in the picture…it looks like one piece of paper on each shelf.  But actually there is a bit of texture and dimension there!   Here’s the before and after:
Best part about this project, is that I turned around and sold it for $40!
I’m keeping my eyes open for cute chairs that I can embellish for my girls’ bedrooms.  Look at these adorable samples that I found on Pinterest!  Do you feel inspired?
Kelly Underwood TimeStyle Designs
And here are some general decoupage samples.  Flower pots, headboards, jewelry boxes, picture frames, coffee tables, monogram wall letters, etc…  My projects so far have been geared toward kids, but there are beautiful scrapbook papers out there for your home decor as well. My sister, an Artist, has taken decoupage to the next level and designs gorgeous custom clocks.  She understands how to finish the edges perfectly, and she often adds her own drawings over the paper.  Beautiful.
There are many tutorials and tips and other product recommendations on the Internet. Some people prefer to use a spray sealer instead of the paint-on variety, and naturally, there are many decoupage experts out there who have been doing this for years and offer better instructions than myself (the amateur).  But at the end of the day, it’s meant to be fun while you’re learning.  Perfection comes with time and practice.
A simple introduction to DIY decoupage


June 25, 2014
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