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For the aleatory literary technique, see cut-up technique.

Decoupage (or découpage) is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and so on. Commonly an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cutouts from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers. Each layer is sealed with varnishes (often multiple coats) until the "stuck on" appearance disappears and the result looks like painting or inlay work. The traditional technique used 30 to 40 layers of varnish which were then sanded to a polished finish.

3D decoupage (sometimes also referred to simply as decoupage) is the art of creating a 3D image by cutting out elements of varying sizes from a series of identical images and layering them on top of each other, usually with adhesive foam spacers between each layer to give the image more depth.

Pyramid decoupage (also called pyramage) is a process similar to 3D decoupage. In pyramid decoupage, a series of identical images are cut into progressively smaller, identical shapes which are layered and fixed with adhesive foam spacers to create a 3D "pyramid" effect.


The origin of decoupage is thought to be East Siberian tomb art. Nomadic tribes used cut out felts to decorate the tombs of their deceased. From Siberia, the practice came to China, and by the 12th century, cut out paper was being used to decorate lanterns, windows, boxes and other objects. In the 17th century, Italy, especially Venice, was at the forefront of trade with the Far East and it is generally thought that it is through these trade links that the cut out paper decorations made their way into Europe.

Florentine decoupage[edit]

Further information: Florentine crafts

Artisans in Florence, Italy have produced decorative objects using decoupage techniques since the 18th century. They combined decoupage with other decorative techniques already popular in Florence, such as gilt with gold leaf and carved wood designs. These older techniques were already used to produce articles such as furniture, frames for paintings, and even tooled leather book covers. Known as Florentine style crafts, these items are now highly collectible antiques. Florentine artisans made use of decoupage by adding it to the space within a carved gilt frame, or by adding the decoupage to a wooden plaque. Artisans used pasted reproductions of famous artworks, nearly always religious depictions. Florentine triptychs using decoupage images of such Biblical scenes as the Crucifixion are a common motif. As society became more secular in the early 20th century, and nonRoman Catholic tourists began buying more crafts from Florentine artisans, decoupage images became less religious in orientation and more reflective of famous Italian artworks in general.

Materials for decoupage crafts[edit]

Decoupage Florentine style box

Common household materials can be used to create effects. Here is a short list of supplies:

  • Something to decoupage onto. Examples include: furniture, photograph albums, plates, ceramics, shelving, frames, mirrors.
  • Pictures to decoupage with. These can come from myriad sources: newspapers, magazines, catalogs, books, printed clip art, wrapping paper, greeting cards, fabric, tissue paper, lace, paper napkins
  • Cutting utensil. Scissors, craft knife or razor blades can be used.
  • Glue. Standard white glue works best if it is diluted with a little water. Specialty glues can be found in most crafting stores.
  • Smoother. Popsicle sticks work well. A brayer is a specialized tool like a miniature rolling pin designed to help remove wrinkles, remove excess glue and smooth pictures.
  • Glue spreader. Many things around the house can be use for this: cotton swabs, paint brushes, sponges.
  • Rags, sponges, tissue paper to help wipe up glue and other clean up.
  • Sealer. Glue or other decoupage medium can be used as a sealer. Alternatively, polyurethane, spray acrylic, epoxy resin or other lacquers are usually used.

Notable decoupeurs[edit]

Someone who does decoupage is known as a decoupeur, or "cutter".

At the age of 71, Mary Delaney achieved fame at the court of George III and Queen Charlotte of England thanks to the 18th century decoupage craze. In 1771, she began to create cut out paper artworks (decoupage) as was the fashion for ladies of the court. Her works were exceptionally detailed and botanically accurate depictions of plants. She used tissue paper and hand colouration to produce these pieces. She created 1,700 of these works, calling them her "Paper Mosaiks [sic]", from the age of 71 to 88 when her eyesight failed her. They can still be seen in the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum.

Further reading[edit]

Manning, Hiram (1980). Manning on Decoupage. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-24028-2.  Rice, Durwin (2008). New Decoupage. Potter Craft. ISBN 0-307-39611-8. 

External links[edit]

  • Peter Mundy manuscript, 17th-century illustrated manuscript incorporating numerous paper cutouts at the British Museum

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decoupage — Please support Wikipedia.
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423 news items


Mon, 28 Jul 2014 09:30:47 -0700

“No one's buying brown wood antiques anymore and especially the heavy Empire style,” groused Hubert Van Asch Van Wyck. Hubert, known as “Bear,” lamented that Connecticut's centers for antiques such as Woodbury, Washington and New Preston have ...
Chicago Tribune
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 19:11:32 -0700

I lied about the decoupage. Obviously, being artsy like other journalists, I have vaguely heard of it. But if I ever take a decoupage class or even learn what the heck it really is, then I hope somebody reading this smacks me on the back of the head ...

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:45:00 -0700

Hell mend us, we jacked it up on junk store castors then covered it in decoupage cherub 'scraps' before finally 'ageing' it with a Tetley tea bag. Well it was the late 80s and we were high on Mod Podge and paint fumes. Back then we loved DIY projects ...
St. Cloud Times
Sat, 16 Aug 2014 15:18:45 -0700

But if I ever take a decoupage class or even learn what the heck it really is, then I hope somebody reading this smacks me on the back of the head with a shovel. I'm sure the decoupage addicts will be incensed, but I don't care. I'm not in a very good ...
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:30:00 -0700

One suggestion was to replace the top of a worn table with a mosaic or decoupage; in fact one idea was to use broken tiles, old bottle caps, and pieces of favorite china which had been broken and give new life both to the furniture and the china and ...
Wicked Local Plymouth
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 05:22:15 -0700

Fine crafters submitted their jewelry, fiber, clay, wood, metal, glass, decoupage, or other innovative creations to the show. Awards for best in category in each of the five categories will be given, as well as a "best in show" and "most popular ...
Craven Herald
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:53:12 -0700

... article not costing not more than £3 - 1 P Swainson, 2 L Pears; patchwork or quilting - 1 and 2 P Swainson, 3 C Holland; handmade jewellery - 1 J Rothwell, 2 A Lilley, 3 M Stanley; decoupage greetings card - 1 W Newby, 2 P Swainson, 3 M Stanley ...

The Daily News Journal

The Daily News Journal
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:48:45 -0700

Unlike decoupage, which usually involves varnishing overlapping pictures on an object, Shilstat creates a specific image. Each one—including quilts, flowers, chickens, and whatever else captures her fancy—is different and full of subtle shades of ...

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