Decoupage, How to Decoupage

Decoupage, how to decoupage

Object to be decorated
Paper Motifs

Clean the object.

Cut out the paper motifs. Plan their placement on the object.

Thin the adhesive with a little water. Spread it evenly across the backs of the paper motifs.

Stick the paper motifs on the object. Run a rolling pin on these to ensure that all edges are stuck and there are no air bubbles trapped in the paper.

Leave to dry.

Apply a coat of varnish , brushing in one direction.

Leave to dry.

Apply 3 -4 coats of varnish like this.

Project Ideas – Pencil holder, Trinket Box

Tip – When using the cutting blade make sure you have kept a wad of old newspapers below the design to give it support.

Safety tip – Be careful of the scissors or knife.

Varnish and paints should also be kept out of the reach of smaller children.


Object to be decorated
Paper motifs
Small scissors or Craft knife
Oil paints
Medium grade sandpaper
Fine grade waterproof sandpaper
Wax polish

Treat the object to be decoupaged to strip it off old varnish, flaking paint and dust.

Coat the surface with paint, using at least two coats.

Use a small scissors or craft knife to cut out the motifs.

Plan the layout of the motifs.

Mix a little water with the adhesive and spread it on the reverse side of the designs.

Place the motif at its designated place on the surface. Press it down.

Using a rolling pin, roll it from one end of the object to the other making sure no air is trapped underneath. If air bubbles were left under the paper than the varnish would seep in.

Check to see that the outside edges are glued down firmly so that the varnish doesn’t seep underneath.

Leave it to dry.

Apply 3-4 coats of varnish.

Leave for drying.

Under running water sandpaper with the waterproof sandpaper. Make sure the sandpaper reaches the entire surface. Also, as far as possible, the sandpaper should not work on a particular place more than once. Use your palm to move the sandpaper rather than the fingers.

Let it dry.

Apply another coat of varnish and then leave to dry. Then again sandpaper it under water.

Use a fluff free cloth to wipe dry the object in between these steps.

Repeat this process till 10 to 20 coats of varnish have been completed. It is not necessary to diligently do this number of coats. The aim is to build up a surface, which is perfectly smooth and shiny, so that it is impossible to feel the outline of the paper cutouts beneath the varnish. Once that has been achieved you can stop.

Give a layer of wax polish to finish off and your item is ready.
Does it look anything like what it was when you started off.

Wooden objects are traditionally used as a base for decoupage but almost anything can be decoupaged such as items made of wood, metal, glass, terracotta, etc. Only keep in mind that whatever you choose must be firm and strong enough to take the dampening affect of pasted paper and the weight of many coats of varnish. For a beginner it is best to start out with a small project such as a box, tray or any flat surfaced item

The paper motifs should be on thin paper, as the thicker the paper is more the number of varnish coats are needed to disguise the raised edge of the paper motif. Designs on a thick paper can be used by removing layers of paper off the reverse side after floating it in water.
Also don’t use motifs on very thin paper, like newspaper cuttings, should not be used, as once varnished the print on the reverse side starts showing.

Instead of cutting the motif you can also tear round it, which gives a highly appealing affect.
The edges of a print can also be burnt to give a charred effect.

Use a knife to spread the glue. Avoid using your hands, as you don’t want to leave smudge marks on your work. Keep a damp cloth handy for wiping off surplus adhesive from your hands and the surfaces.

Give it plenty of time to dry out thoroughly before varnishing. If you don’t let it dry properly than the dampness will stay trapped under the layers of varnish and will ultimately spoil the paper motif.
Varnish should be left overnight to dry thoroughly between coats.

Project ideas – ornamental tray, trinket box, table top

Safety tip – Be careful of the blade/scissors. Varnish and paints should be kept out of the reach of smaller childern


When using the cutting blade make sure you have kept a wad of old newspapers below the design to give it support.

Always remember to close lids of varnish tins tightly.

I have always found in the long run small tins of varnish or enamel paints to be more economical than bigger packaging.

Once the tin is opened a wasteful skin begins to form on top, because of which always store the tins upside down as this makes sure that the skin forms at the bottom of the tin and therefore doesn’t cause problem in usage.

The golden rule for brushes for varnishing is always to buy the best quality brushes. You don’t want to waste time and effort of having to stop constantly to fish out stray bristles.

I always keep a separate set of brushes for use in varnish as once used in varnish they are not of very much use in painting, etc.

Never use damp brushes for varnishing. Always dry the brushes properly after having washed them.

The work should be left undisturbed as much as possible and kept away from household dust or steam. A small project can be worked on an old tray so that it can be put away while drying.

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