Decoupage is back in a big way. It’s not hard to see why either, it’s a really great way to enhance your craft or upcycled furniture projects quickly and simply, whilst still yielding fantastic results. Pretty much anything can be decoupaged, and when finished the end result looks to have been professionally painted. Before we get into how to decoupage, we must first ask…
What is decoupage?
In short, decoupage is the art of adhering pictures and/or patterns to a surface. In fact, the word decoupage is derived from the French verb découper which means ‘to cut out’, so if we break it down to its bare bones we are literally cutting something out and sticking it on something else.
Ok, this sounds a little rudimentary, and I’m sure seasoned decoupagers reading this will be up in arms at the sheer cheek of calling decoupage cutting and sticking. They would be right to do so, there is an art to it and there’s certainly some pitfalls which you are going to want to avoid. So, before we further stoke the ire of furniture flippers and crafters who swear by decoupage, let’s delve into the do’s and do not’s of decoupage shall we?
The art of cutting
Ok, ok we’ve all cut things out before – some of you may have even cut decoupage out before, but have you done it correctly? Cutting decoupage papers isn’t quite as straight forward as you might think, it’s all about understanding just what you are going to use the papers for. Plenty of upcycled furniture projects, for example, have a focal decoupage design in the centre which has been blended in match the rest of the project. This is a very effective way of making it appear like your paper has always been a part of the design as a whole.
If you are going with this method, then you are going to want to avoid slicing or cutting your paper in a straight line. The eye is naturally drawn to a straight line, this will give the game away and the final result won’t look quite as good as it could have done. Instead, it is better to tear your decoupage, this keeps the edges uneven and organic – just the sort of look we’re going for!
To take the hassle out of tearing the papers, try creating a ‘tear line’ with a wet paint brush and simply pulling the paper apart. This works especially well with the durable decoupage papers from Posh Chalk. This method comes into its own if you are just trying to cut out a section of the design rather than utilising the whole thing. Simply create a line around the section you would like to cut off and tear it right out!
Whether you’re a crafter or into upcycled furniture you may come across an instance when you would like a complete section covered by decoupage, the front of a drawer perhaps. There’s two methods you can use. Firstly, you can carefully cut the section out to fit using a sharp craft knife, nothing special just something you can buy off of Amazon; the great thing about decoupaging is most of the items you need, you’re likely to have lying about, or at the very least they’re easy and affordable to get hold of.
Slicing the papers in this method will give you very sharp, clean lines – exactly what you’re looking to achieve – however this method requires a steady hand and is very easy to get wrong. A much easier way of cutting your paper flush to an edge is to use a design a little bigger than you actually need, fix it into position or even stick it down leaving a little border around the edge (we’ll come onto the arcane art of sticking shortly).
Once the paper is fixed in place, fold the excess over the edge of the surface and simply run a medium grit sandpaper over the edge in an up and down motion – never side to side. This will neatly tear the paper flush to your edge. I much prefer this method, it’s easier with less room for error but just as effective.
The art of sticking
The beauty of the Posh Chalk Deluxe Decoupage is that they can be stuck on using the more traditional method, but they can also be ironed on too! For now we’ll stick to a more traditional method.
There’s a plethora of different decoupage glues and whatnot on the market, however the Posh Chalk Pigments Infusor is an all-in-one weatherproof top coat seal which is just perfect for using with the robust and durable Posh Chalk papers.
Before we start applying the decoupage it’s important to remember that in order to get the best finish possible, the papers should be applied to a light surface. Often it’s a case of applying a coat of white paint such as Dixie Belle’s Cotton prior to starting. For those looking for a vintage feel, combining a coat of crackle with the light paint will really add some depth.
Working in sections, apply a coat of the Infusor straight onto the surface which you’re adhering to. Next, lay your decoupage over the top and come back in with more of the Infusor on top of the paper. The Posh Chalk Decoupage really comes into its own when battling the creases, the papers are incredibly robust and – like the WoodUbend – are quite comfortable being stretched a little. If you hold a section of the paper down with the brush you’re using to apply your Infusor, it’s easy to manipulate and stretch the papers. Once the paper is wrinkle free and pulled taut over the surface, it’s a case of rinse and repeat.
Your brush is an effective tool when applying decoupage, use it to really work the paper into the crevices of the surface, smooth creases…and most importantly saturate it with the Posh Chalk Pigments Infusor.
Because the Posh Chalk Decoupage is so robust, there’s a window of opportunity when it’s first placed onto the surface to remove and reapply it. If you decide do do this, trust in the paper, slowly but firmly pull it off, much in the same way you would when stripping wallpaper. Once it’s been removed, you can make whatever adjustments need to be made and go again.
Blending your decoupage
So, your paper is down, the infusor has dried and now it’s time to get to work. In order to really complete your decoupage project, it’s imperative to seamlessly blend it in with the rest of the project which you’re working on. This means some deft brush work, the aim of the game is to pull the colours from the paper into the rest of your project and vice versa. Blending is an art form in itself and does take a bit of practice, however incorporating your decoupage into your project is a little easier than creating a big ombre!
Try to colour match the colours at the edge of the design and blend out. Often you won’t get a perfect match so include some of your colours onto the design as well, this will give the whole project a bit of consistency and really tie it all together. Play around with it a little, find your groove and if you’re using a water based medium like the Posh Chalk Pastes, Aqua Patinas or Pigments and you don’t like your work – well paint right over the top of it and go again.
As always, it’s a about a bit of creativity and finding what works best for you.