Decoupage is the traditional French art of applying illustrations, photographs, drawings, and cartoons to wood or glass objects. The results are objects d'art.
While decoupage can be intricate and complicated, when simplified, its magic appeals to children. It takes some time and planning, but the end product is stunning.
As with most crafts, a good imagination is the first requirement. Beyond that, assemble unfinished wooden picture frames or boxes or clear glass plates.
You will need craft paint, craft glue, varnish -- and brushes for applying them.
The illustrations can be magazine cut-outs, original drawings, or old photos.
Getting to Work
Set up a quiet workspace where the projects can be left undisturbed for hours. The kitchen table is not a good choice if you'll need it for supper!
Cover the work area with craft paper, newspaper, or plastic sheets to protect it.
Show the kids how to arrange their cut-outs on the frame, box, or plate. They probably will want to cut and trim the images further to make them fit on the frame and with each other. Once they have settled on a pattern, put the cut-outs in a folder or secure pile.
Paint the frame or box with a bright color, if you want, using a small paint brush. This is optional; you can leave the wood plain if you prefer.
Let the paint dry completely and then begin the decoupage.
Use craft glue to affix the cut-outs to the object. Cover the frame or box completely or leave spaces. The point is to create a pleasing pattern of form, color, and shape, similar to collage.
Allow the glue to dry completely. Use a clean paint brush to apply a thin coat of varnish over the entire surface of the object.
If you're coating a box with a lid, varnish the pieces separately to prevent sticking.
Let the varnish dry completely and then apply a second coat. This is not absolutely necessary but it guarantees a better finish. There is less chance of leaving a section of the object unvarnished.
Inexpensive decoupaged glass plates make charming gifts. While they cannot be used as plates for eating, they are decorative hanging on a wall or displayed on a shelf.
The trick to decoupaging a glass plate is to use clear glue, not craft glue. Affix the cut-outs to the bottom of the plate, with the images visible through the top. Trim the images so that they fit on the plate precisely and don't bend over the rim and ruin the picture.
Let the glue dry. At this point, apply a thin coat of varnish or craft paint over the back of the plate. Paint will give the plate another dimension; varnish will maintain its clarity.
Once the paint has dried completely, be sure to apply a coat of varnish over it. Two coats are even better.
As you decoupage, the depth and beauty of the method become clear. Kids will love learning this craft. Moms will love it just as much. Have fun!