Decoupage and the importance of quality materials

Decoupage is the art of decorating surfaces with paper cutouts. You can transform many different things – boxes, trays, coasters – into beautiful artworks to keep and treasure or giveaway as gifts that your friends will surely appreciate.

I have made quite a lot of decoupage embellishment in the past but hadn’t had the chance to do it since I’ve been in Australia. It requires a lot of different materials and quite a bit of work space; you can’t put it on your lap and take it to the couch as you do while knitting…

past decoupage

Decoupage items I have made in the past.

It’s now been almost 2 months since I’ve been “funemployed” (unemployed and having fun!) and I’m taking this chance to make all these projects that I never had the time to complete. My list includes writing a new knitting pattern, starting a quilt and decoupage!

In the beginning of July, I headed down to Spotlight and gathered all the materials I needed. Pulled up my sleeves and got my hands dirty. And these pretty little things came up from boring plain paper mache boxes that I once bought on sale at Lincraft.

before_and_afterMaterials for decoupage can get very pricey. The brushes have to be super soft and made of good quality bristle so that the paper does not get damaged while being covered. The glues and varnish have to give good coverage and brilliant finish. And, of course, material cost rises exponentially if you want to use special techniques such as gloss (glaze or fake glass) finishing or a cracking effect. So I was trying to save some bucks on the acrylic paints. “It’s just paint!”-  I thought – and it would be covered with finishing varnish anyway so it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

If you know your way around your acrylic paints, you will certainly know the infamous Americana brand. They make premium acrylics (among other things), their quality is truly amazing, but… it costs double the price of other acrylics! So I bought a few dazzling Americana metallics and a couple of other rich colours and  got the rest in cheap Semco brand. Most of them were fine, especially if you’re planning on using it as a base colour. But I would not recommend using it for more refined techniques.

You can give your pieces an aged look by giving it a cracking effect. By using 2 contrasting colours that are separated by a coat of Crackle Medium, you can create a beautiful effect that will add a vintage character to your piece. I usually like to use a metallic as the base layer and then a nice rich contrasting colour on the top.


Decoupage with vintage cracking effect using Americana acrylics.

Well… this didn’t work out so well when using the Semco paints…


Decoupage cracking effect using Semco matte acrylic paint.

I still like the effect but you do not see those nice see-through golden cracks underneath. It just forms kind of a blur… The paint I used as the top layer was a Semco matte effect as opposed to the gloss Americana paint. I do not know if being a matte is what caused this, but this surely taught me that it is well worth to invest in good quality materials if you do not want any unexpected results… I also learned that metallics don’t work as a top layer as they will not crack. The cracking medium instructions actually advised against it but I decided to give it a try anyway… which, of course, was a failure! Ahahaha That’s what you get for being stubborn skeptic!

For the glaze I used the Craftsmart liquid gloss kit and was very pleased with the final result. It’s composed of an epoxy resin that, once mixed with a hardening liquid, forms a beautiful glass-looking layer.


Glaze on the lid of the decoupage jewellery box. Notice the glare due to the fake glass effect.

For the paper, you can use napkins or other thin paper to your liking. My favourite is rice paper because it’s thin enough to be coated to look like it’s been hand-painted but still easy to work with. And it can be found in glorious prints like these.

And here they are, my pretty jewellery boxes! Contact me if you wish to have one for your most precious keepsakes!







About The Knitting Scientist

I was born in a land where the sun shines bright, time passes by slowly and people take pride in what they do. My mom taught me my first stitches and I never put down my hook and needles again! Later I became a scientist, dwelling within the mysteries of life and the universe, using logic and analytic thinking, giving my humble contribution to human knowledge. Scientist during the day, knitter at night. Just like a super hero, creative hands on an analytic mind is my super power! That's me and this is my story lost among test tubes and balls of yarn!

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