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Tips for decoupage projects

December 27, 2008

Decoupage has been around in one form or another for centuries. Fortunately for modern-day crafters, the materials that are used now are much easier to handle than those commonly used just a few years ago. These new products make it easier to achieve professional results with fewer steps, so the process goes much quicker.

In 1998, decoupage artist Durwin Rice published a wonderful reference. His book, "New Decoupage: Transforming Your Home With Paper, Glue and Scissors" (Clarkson Potter, $19.95, 144 pages), was published in paperback last February. It is filled with projects, detailed instructions and advice for beginning and advanced artists.

Here are some tips based on information in Rice's book.

o You can decoupage over a painted surface, but make sure the paint is not peeling or chipping. If it is, sand the surface. If you use a metal object, make sure to remove any rust by sanding or polishing with steel wool.

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You can paint or stain the background item if you want to change its color; just make sure it is completely dry before you decoupage.

o Don't rule out items that are rough or irregular, say a pitted or well-used table. That rough surface can add to the character of the decoupage.

o Nearly any paper image can be used including magazine pages, wrapping paper, wallpaper, catalogues, pages from a book, sheet music, scrap book paper, photographs and art prints.

o If you have just one image but would like to use it more than once, or if you don't want to permanently attach your original, you can have color laser copies made for about 50 cents at most office supply stores. Just make sure it's laser and not inkjet, which isn't colorfast when it gets wet.

o Don't rule out an image because it is not the right size. Adjust the size when you have your laser copy made.

o For most projects, white craft glue like Elmer's Glue-All works just fine. Wallpaper paste and wheat paste are also good because they allow the paper image to be moved without tearing. If you have problems working with the craft glue, try diluting it with a little water until it is more manageable.

o If you layer images, you should allow them to dry between layers.

o After you have glued the image to the background, use your fingers to gently coax any air bubbles to the edge of the image. Don't push the wet paper image with fingernails or a hard object like a spatula because the wet paper will tear.

o After the glue has dried, seal the image with several coats of polyurethane, varnish or lacquer, allowing the project to dry completely between coats. It comes in high-gloss, semi-gloss and matte finish so just choose the finish you like. Craft stores also sell decoupage finish such as Triple-Thick.

o After you have applied two or three coats of sealer, if the surface looks bumpy, lightly sand it with 400-grit sandpaper, then add more layers of sealer until the surface is smooth and you can no longer see a ridge where the paper is glued.

- Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com

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