We would get home from school around around 2.30 and have lunch as a family. And then the afternoon would loom, apparently endless, in front of us. (have you noticed how the older you get, the faster time goes?) Sometimes we would knock on the neighbors' door and spend the afternoon roller skating or playing pretend, but other times there seemed like there was nothing to entertain us ...."Mum, I'm bored....What should I do?"
My mother would always have a project for us. Mostly these activities were craft based: Sewing clothes for our dolls, baking, drawing, making Christmas decorations and so much more. Her imagination, creativity and ability to communicate and teach was (and still is) endless. At the end of one particular vacation, spent with the extended family, everyone: boys and girls, from my grandmother down to my 4 year old cousin, knew how to knit.
We still joke about our family's "little house in the prairie" mentality: There was nothing that couldn't be re interpreted and home made. It is an attitude that has shaped my life. There is nothing I enjoy more than planning and executing a project. Sometimes ideas of what I want to create come to me out of nowhere, at other times they are triggered by a glimpse of something or by an existing piece that can be transformed. Occasionally, I see something I love, and my thoughts immediately turn to how it is made and whether I can learn how to do it.
This was the case with Decoupage. according to Wikipedia, decoupage is" is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it" It was originally used by East Siberian nomadic tribes who would cut out felts to decorate tombs. The art spread to China, where it was used to decorate lanterns, windows, boxes and other objects. In the 17th century, the art of cut paper decorations made its way to Italy. Florentine artisans produced articles such as furniture, frames for paintings, and even tooled leather book covers which are now highly covetable antiques.
I first fell in love with it when I moved to New York. One Saturday afternoon, a friend proposed a shopping trip to "this one place which I think you will really like". She took me to John Derian's amazing store in the east village, and I was immediately in love. I have collected a fair amount of his pieces since then, but true to my little house in the prairie heritage, I wanted to own decoupage, not just purchase it. So I researched, found instructions and learn how to do it.
It is both easy and really, really hard to do. The process is simple, and doesn't take long, which has made it one my favorite creative fixes.But achieving an air bubble free, wrinkle free, immaculate pieces is still out of my reach. regardless of that, some of my creations are proudly displayed next to my treasured John Derian pieces.
Finding a great image is what it's all about. I like to use vintage prints that have modern looking shapes or touch me in some way. I have learned that the process is easier with color photocopies, but using the kind of lightweight paper normally reserved for black and white documents. Because it is a lighter weight and uncoated, it absorbs more water and is easier to mold to the plate shape and creates less wrinkles and air bubbles.
Once you have a print you like, choose the object it will go on and what size it will be. I use Berhenberg glass Co. for plates and other decoupage bases. Don't be afraid to crop your image in an interesting way!
With a pen, Make the position of the glass plate on your photocopy and cut, leaving approximately 1" of extra paper outside the edge of your pen mark.
In a large, shallow serving or baking bowl, Mix equal parts white craft glue and water - sometimes I make it a little more watery to help soak and mold the paper. Stir the mix to dissolve the glue until you get an evenly milky color.
Submerge the image in the glue mixture until it is soaked through, then carefully lift and ,with your fingers, smooth away away excess liquid.
Place the image, positioned how you want it,face down on the back of your glass plate. This is where things get a little complicated. Using your hands, gently press the paper down onto the glass Working outwards from the center, smooth it out, gently and repeatedly, to get rid of air bubbles and create as even a surface as possible. Do the corners last in order to avoid, as much as possible, wrinkling as the paper molds to the glass.
Let it dry and then repeat the process with the backing paper. This can be plain or printed. For this project I used a watermark print. Make sure your image goes on the plate the right way up this time.
Once both layers of paper are dry, Trim the excess paper with an exacto knife. Finally, using a paintbrush, coat the back of the plate with undiluted white glue and let it dry.
Enjoy the process!! or......if this is all too much trouble for you. Go to John Derian and buy one of their amazing decoupage Pieces!
JOHN DERIAN COMPANY
Decoupage & Imported Goods
6 East Second Street between 2nd Avenue and the Bowery
New York, NY 10003