Our second post in the guest blogger series is from Anna. Anna and I met about 7 or 8 years ago. In another life I lived in DC and ran a student exchange program. Actually, it wasn’t a student exchange program, it was like Fulbright but for high school students from the former Soviet Union. Anna was one of my 40 students and if I recall correctly, she lived with a family on the Kentucky-Ohio boarder for a school year. Anna and I have managed to keep in touch thanks to blogging. Anna is a talented photographer and blogs with some friends on Transatlantic Panorama. You have to check out the blog. Five friends from both sides of the Atlantic post pictures weekly on a theme. My favorite one so far is Landscape.
Anna has put together a great decoupage tutorial for everyone. I’m thinking some nice holiday inspired decoupage may be in our future. I’m hoping she’ll agree to come back and do a post about her hometown of Kiev, Ukraine.
I don't know about you, but I've always felt a need to make something with my own hands, something "artsy". Nevertheless, given that my mind is more artsy than my hands, it never really worked too well, except for embroidery where you just need to follow the stitch scheme carefully to end up with a perfect picture (despite the number of times you might have to redo some parts because you started out one cross too close or too far from where it was supposed to be...). As for drawing and painting, they've always been more of an art therapy for me than anything worthy sharing with the world.
As of this week, everything has changed.
If you experience art project cravings but are not satisfied with the results, the following technique might be THE one for you - découpage.
The word "découpage" comes from French and literally means "cutting out". Découpage is decoration of various objects through gluing images on surfaces, which depending on your goals can include some extra special effects.
To write this post, I did my best to sign up for a master class on découpage to do it "right". As there was nothing available until December, I just went to the nearest shop of art supplies and bought the following: découpage glue+lacquer 2-in-1, a nice wide and flat paint brush and 3 colorful napkins. Armed with that and a few instructions from a girl working at the shop, I was all set to see if it's really as easy as everyone claims it to be.
For the simplest project you will need découpage glue, lacquer (preferably) for finish, a brush, napkins with images or designs you like, scissors and an object for decoration (in my case, an old glass I inherited from the owners of the apartment which I used as a pen holder).
Step 1 for me was washing the glass with soap in order to remove any grease or whatever else might've been on the surface (add drying to that).
Step 2: cut out the elements from the napkin(s) you'd like to use for your work (I suggest cutting out more than you need keeping in mind Step 4 you will find below).
Step 3: take off the first layer (usually there are 3 total), as this is the part you will use.
Step 4: place all the elements on the object for decoration to see whether your idea will work (this step changed everything for me, as the glass turned out to be smaller than it seemed and the elements were way too big. I ended up using only 2 leaves and 2 narrow stripes).
Step 5: pick an element and carefully glue it in its place. Move from the center of the element to the sides. DON'T be greedy and use enough glue not to rip the fragile piece but DO be a little fast as elements start to stretch out easily as soon as they are wet with glue. So if you glue one part of the element and and take too long to glue the rest you might either rip the piece or get wrinkles or... I don't know what else. I'm not experienced in this, remember?;)
Step 5: glue other elements (they can overlap, by the way).
Step 6: let the glue dry and finish it up with lacquer. In my case, I just covered all the clear parts with my 2-in-1 découpage glue+lacquer and let it dry (you're not supposed to cover the whole thing with lacquer - just the elements, but no one said I couldn't, right?). The instruction said to wait for 24 hours, but in reality it took no more than 15 minutes for the glass to dry and be ready for after pics:
My "piece of art" is now multi functional and can serve not only as a pen holder but also as a candle holder.
The whole process didn't take long but nevertheless left me with a satisfying enough result.
You can invest as much or as little in your projects as you'd like. I went with a moderately saving approach and purchased a 2-in-1 glue instead of glue and lacquer separately, but I risked ruining the glass, as glue+lacquer solution cannot be removed unlike the regular découpage glue. If your project doesn't include anything that needs to be washed or touched often, you can simply use slightly diluted white school glue and lacquer from a construction store. For everything else there is a wide variety of supplies that will preserve your work either in your dishwasher or in your washing machine.
Also, napkins are the easiest source of images. In shops of art supplies you can find special "maps" full of thematic images or you can actually use magazine pictures or your own print outs to make your works as diverse and personal as you wish. The part about using your own print outs interests me the most, though I have not yet researched it.
Découpage can be applied working with glass, wood, carton, metal, fabrics, plastic. You can use it for making "paintings" on canvas, decorating plates, cups and glasses, furniture and clothes!
It's fun, it's easy, it's worth trying!
P.S. Check Out our previous guest post: