Decoupage the Easy Way!

Even if you can't paint a stroke, this technique lets you create works of art with paper, glue and varnish.

Decoupage is one of the simplest ways to decorate anything from hat boxes to headboards, and it's revival has brought numerous products to market to make it even easier. Taken from the French word "decouper", meaning "to cut out", this decorative art form involves cutting out paper images, pasting them to your chosen surface, and then applying a coat of varnish to give the impression of hand-painting or inlay. The final finish unifies the images and makes the surface appear to be one cohesive work.

Besides decoupage medium, you also can add antiquing medium or crackle medium to give your work the look of a timeworn antique (If you use an antiquing or crackle medium, do this just before the final varnish coat). You can add hand-painted elements to embellish the mages you have pasted down for a result that looks much like a fine painting.

First, base-coat your surface with acrylic paint. After paint is dry, lightly sand with medium-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface.

Next, cut out the elements from thin, sturdy decoupage paper, gift wrap, prints, etc. It's best if the images have print on one side only-otherwise the image underneath may show through when you apply the varnish. When you have all your cut-outs, plan the overall design by laying out the cutouts in a way that pleases you.

Next, apply the decoupage medium (ModPodge is good) with a small sponge brush to the back side of the cutout, then place the cutout in place on your project surface. Work from the center to flatten it out with your fingers, eliminating any air bubbles. You can also use an old credit card. Gently wipe away any excess glue with a damp paper towel or sponge. Let dry.

Paint multiple coats of the decoupage medium over the cutouts, letting each coat dry completely. The object is to lose the edges in the finish to make the overall surface as smooth as possible. Then paint or spray a final coat of varnish.

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