Materials, costs and methods of execution: everything you need to know about one of the most famous and appreciated decorative techniques by art and DIY enthusiasts.
Decoupage is a French word that literally translated means “cutout” and, in the artistic field, is used to indicate a very particular decorative technique but easy to perform.
A bit of history
The decoupage technique is based on the use of pre-printed decorations on paper, which are precisely cut out and then applied to the surfaces to be decorated, which can be those of a piece of furniture or a covering panel, a door or even a wooden supporting element. .
This technique was born during the Middle Ages by the amanuensis monks, who used it to illustrate their manuscripts, but it has further expanded and has been extended to the decoration of wood when in the sixth century the European kings became passionate about finely decorated furniture and lacquers imported from the Far East.
In Italy, decoupage on furniture is also known as poor lacquer in fact, and was introduced in the 18th century to favor the rapid creation of furniture decorated with gallant and complex scenes and then lacquered according to the Chinese style.
Over time the decoupage has been considerably enriched, both by adding further techniques that allow to obtain different visual effects, and by extending its application on materials other than wood; nowadays, in fact, decoupage on plastic , canvas, metal and even on glass are also widely used , to decorate cocktail sets , carafes and glasses.
In recent times, decoupage has undergone a contraction in the professional field, since the trend design of furniture has radically changed, therefore this sector has moved above all towards the artistic and hobby-craft market; moreover, its diffusion in the home has grown exponentially, where it is practiced at an amateur level. Thanks to its ease of execution, in fact, this technique has met with considerable success and is practiced by both adults and children.
There are even specialized magazines on the subject and periodically thematic fairs are organized that focus exclusively on decoupage, and which are a meeting point between the companies that produce materials and tools for this technique and those who practice it, both amateur and professional. .
The paper for decoupage
The most important consumable, of course, is decoupage paper , that is a special paper that can have different thicknesses depending on the case, and on which more or less complex decorative designs or motifs are printed, depending on the style.
Depending on the type of decoration, there are different types of paper, such as rice paper or the t ovaglioli for decoupage , just as an example; the choice of decorative motifs is also extremely wide, as is the size of the sheets. Some, in fact, are printed on purpose to reproduce linear decorations on more or less wide that develop in length, while others are small in size and intended to decorate furniture or small objects.
The cards of this type are considered “professional” because they are produced by specialized companies in the sector, therefore the material and the designs are of high quality and in some cases they can come to have a fairly high price. A single decorated rice paper for decoupage, in fact, has a cost that can range from 2 to 50 euros or even more, depending on the size.
Apart from professional papers, which however can also be used at an amateur level, it is usually possible to use any type of paper, such as that for wrapping gifts, newspaper clippings and photocopies; You can also apply store-bought paper napkin decorations if you can find the designs you like.
In addition to the paper with the decoration prints, the other materials needed for decoupage are glue, brushes, a pair of scissors and paints (while it is quite unlikely that you will need DIY tools such as a drill or a table saw. ).
Also in this case the same rule applies as for paper, that is, it is possible to use both professional materials created specifically for this purpose and cheap materials for general use. The glue for decoupage , for example, has the characteristics of acting at the same time as a transparent varnish with a satin effect, and therefore of guaranteeing a better result, but nothing prevents the use of simple drawing glue or vinyl glue, which are by far cheaper.
As for the scissors, however, the common ones for paper are enough, while for the brushes it is advisable to have at least one flat one, so as to be able to spread the glue and paints more easily, and at least a pair with fine and medium points, because in some circumstances they may prove to be quite useful.
The paints are used to give uniformity to the surface where the decoration is glued; the one most used for this purpose is transparent acrylic paint, which, in addition to making it uniform, facilitates cleaning of the decorated surfaces and helps protect them from wear over time. There are also other specific products for decoupage that can cost a lot, but thanks to which it is possible to further embellish the decorations with particular effects, such as the antiqued one, but we will talk more about this in the next paragraph.
Over the years, decoupage has seen the addition of further and various artistic techniques, which have been superimposed on the basic technique to give rise to more complex creations. Among the most common we mention that craquelé or cracklé, as it is defined in some cases, which reproduces on the decoration a crack effect similar to that which can be found on ancient oil paintings or on a certain type of artistic pottery, the stencil technique and the trompe l’oeil.
Some of these techniques can be achieved simply by using the appropriate papers, as is the case with trompe l’oeil and stencil decoupage; those such as craquelé, on the other hand, require the further application of specific products, such as Mediums and finishing paints. In these cases the construction costs increase, and not a little, but also the final effect is far superior.
The more elaborate and complex the additional technique, therefore, the greater the expense required to purchase the materials suitable for the purpose; most of these techniques, in fact, are practiced above all at a professional level, while in the hobby field they are carried out only by the most experienced enthusiasts.