Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Learn to Decoupage
I am happy that you stopped by to check out this article.
This post is the first in the Series of DIY Projects and I truly hope that the information and instructions provided will encourage you to learn the art of decoupage. In order to ensure that those just starting off on this path get the most from this DIY tutorial I have included as much information as possible.
Decoupage is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and other decorative elements.
The DIY Project - Vintage Decoupage Tray
The photograph below is of the Tray that I made by decoupage and I will explain how you can do this too.
It is important to have all the items that are required for this DIY Project. You can purchase them from a local art & craft store, hardware store or online. The bigger the volume, better the price applies only to a few items so based on how keen you are to make more decoupage items you can select the volume. A little can go a long way for some items such as Mod Podge which is also available in 250 ml containers. The masking tape is available on Amazon India as a set of 5 rolls and at a great price. This is something that has a wide variety of uses in art and craft projects so it makes sense to buy the pack instead of an individual roll.
Tip - Buy good quality decoupage paper. Avoid purchasing thin paper napkins.
- Wooden/MDF Tray (I used a 10 x 6 inch tray)
- Wood Stain
- Mod Podge
- Decoupage Paper
- Sponge Brushes 1 inch wide
- Paint Brushes - Flat & wide
- Masking Tape
- Acrylic Paint - Coral/ White/ Flesh Tone
- Paper Plate
- Scissors Large
- Scissors Small
The other items seen in the photograph below are
- Stencil sheet
- Brush for stenciling
These were used in another decoupage project and that photograph is at the end of this article. Make sure to check it out.
Since I wanted a Vintage feel I was careful about my choice of decoupage paper. As you can see from the photograph it was perfect.
Step 1 - Taping the Tray
Select a tray that is not too large if you are attempting decoupage for the first time. The dimensions of my tray are 10 x 6 inches and it had an even rim all around it. I chose this style of tray as I was not planning on doing any decoupage on the sides of the tray.
TIP Wipe your tray down to make sure that there is no dust
Use a good quality Masking tape and tape the inside of your tray as seen in the photograph below.
This is the masking tape that I used. It worked well and it did not destroy the surface of the tray when I removed it.
Step 2 - Staining the Tray
I chose a deep brown wood stain for my tray. I picked up the stain at a local hardware store. Since I was opting for this style instead of using chalk/acrylic paint, I decided to stain the edge first.
I noticed that the color appeared to be very light so I applied the stain thrice to bring it to the shade I was aiming for. This is a personal choice and you can go with the shade that appeals to you while complementing the decoupage paper colour and design.
I then proceeded to paint the inside and outside of the rim. I used three coats of wood stain allowing time for drying between the application of the coats. I used a sponge brush to apply the stain.
Tip - Prop up your tray on two disposable cups when painting the inner and outer rim
Once the last coat of the stain had dried I carefully peeled off the masking tape. I was taken aback to find that despite my best efforts a very small amount of the stain had seeped under the masking tape.
Step 3 - Painting the Base of the Tray
As I was planning to use the flesh tone acrylic paint to coat the base of the tray I was confident that the paint could cover the stain and it did! You can see in the photographs above, the difference between the first and the third photograph respectively.
Step 4 - Getting other items ready
Make sure that you have a paper plate or a plastic bowl ready to pour some Mod Podge into but wait until you have to pour it out.
Tip - Mod Podge can be diluted with very little water before use. Do NOT prepare the mix till you are ready to use it.
You may be surprised by the tiny scissors I am using but believe me when I tell you that it is the best when cutting intricate designs and when dealing with delicate decoupage paper.
Step 5 - Sizing
I was not going to cutout designs from the decoupage paper as I planned to use an entire section. I was keen to have the roses and their background cover the base of the tray. The advantage of working with an angular base is that it can be simple if you get your lines on the paper aligned with the edges of the base.
I placed a part of the paper in the tray using two sides of the paper to fit perfectly against two sides of the tray. I had to handle the paper gently so as to avoid creating wrinkles on it. I lightly marked the edges that needed to be cut.
I then proceeded to cut the paper along the two edges that required cutting. After I did this I laid the paper in the tray to check that it was a perfect fit.
Tip - Fine Scissors help in cutting intricate shapes as well as lines that are not well defined
After the paper was checked I removed it from the tray and laid it out on my work table. The next step was going to be a challenge and you are about to find out why.
Step 6 - Separating the Layers
The decoupage paper is made up of many fine layers and most often you get them in 2 ply or 3 ply. I personally prefer the 3 ply. The top layer which has the print will have to be separated from the under layers. This is a critical process as too much force can tear the paper.
Tip - Wet your finger tips lightly before you peel the top layer of paper
I began peeling back the paper from one corner and worked my way carefully until the top layer had been separated. I breathed a sigh of relief. At this point it is very obvious that the delicate top layer had to be handled carefully.
Step 7 - Mod Podge
I poured a little Mod Podge into a paper plate and added a few drops of water to it. I used a wooden popsicle stick that was lying in my studio to mix the two. Make sure that you do not add too much of water.
Tip - Wet your sponge brush before you dip it into the Mood Podge mix
I used deft strokes to apply the Mod Podge to the tray always moving my brush in the same direction.
Step 8 - Placing the Decoupage Paper
I thenimmediately laid the top layer of the decoupage paper on the base of the tray. I used another clean dry sponge brush to ensure that the paper stuck to the tray. I then used the ball of my fingers to gently remove any air bubbles. I think I must have held my breath quite a bit during this step. It required all of my concentration to make sure that the paper did not wrinkle.
I waited till the Mod Podge dried and then I added another layer of Mod Podge but this this it was over the decoupage paper. The Mod Podge is a sealer too so this last step was necessary. I then allowed it to dry completely.
Remember that Mod Podge dries transparent
The photograph below is of the tray after it had been decoupaged.
There are many items that can have decoupage done on them, such as glass bottles, bowls, boxes, trays, coasters, to name a few. I went on to decoupage a small trinket box for my daughter and for this project I used pastel pink chalk paint for the base. The other item was decoupage on a larger tray and this time I chose to use cutouts instead of an entire section of paper. I also used my stencil brush to dab acrylic paint to the sides of the cutouts to make them blend into the base colour of the tray.
Well I now believe that you are equipped with all the info that you need to try out decoupage. Go for it!
I would love to see what you create so do send me your photographs
You are welcome to leave a comment or ask questions. To attend our online decoupage workshop you can write to me for details at email@example.com
Leeza A. Harris
Disclaimer - This article is not a paid promotion for any of the brands mentioned.