Découpage Projects

Click on individual photos to enlarge.

Several years ago I took a one-evening découpage workshop and haven't stopped decoupaging surfaces since.  I started with frames.  Using cheap, thrift shop frames and découpaging both mat and frame, I could match coloring and style to the subject in a way that is not possible using conventional matting and framing techniques, and all at a fraction of what even do-it-yourself frame shops charge.  To date, I have découpaged more than a dozen frames for myself and friends.  The subjects are as follows:  photographs of two oil portraits, a photograph of my great grandmother, a needlepoint still-life, a needlepoint of a samurai warrior, a sketch of the costume for the "candyman" in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory découpaged with miniature candy wrappers, and an 1874 assayers map of my neighborhood (the corner pieces are Christmas tree ornaments from Crate and Barrel).

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For my latest project, I découpaged the contemporary work table for my 1928 Wilcox and Gibbs industrial sewing machine.  If you are familiar with industrial machine tables, they are usually mint green in color, which did not blend well with my old-brick, old-wood kitchen/dining room/den basement room.  I think the result respects the decoration of the machine while not being distractingly busy.  You have to be able to find the pins on the work surface.  The "box" on the left actually covers my computer scanner.  The two photos at the bottom show the details.   That is paper, not paint.

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I did this project as a housewarming gift for dear friends.  The frog is needlepoint.  I didn't like the like the color of yarn for the background "pond," so i made a template by inserting a piece of heavy craft paper under the needlepoint canvas and pricking around the edge of the needlepoint with a pin.  After cutting along the pinpricks, I placed the resulting template over a piece of crinkled green paper (it is purchased crinkled) drew the edge with a white pencil, cut along that line, and carefully glued the paper to the canvas.

I decoupaged the frame using a bronze, less wrinkled paper and didn't like the results, so I gilded on top of the paper.  Taking a cue from the ancient Egyptians who buried food so that there would be something to eat on the journey to the afterworld, I gilded tin moth and dragonfly pins and glued them in the corners and along the sides of the frame, resulting in a carved effect.

Not seeing any reason why I couldn't decoupage a chandelier, I decoupaged a chandelier.  I found a 12-light Williamsburg-style cheap brass chandelier in the trash.  Several branches were slightly bent which i presume is why it was thrown out.  I bent those branches and all the others to make room for mica shades i bought on ebay, then i took the entire fixture apart.  I used a chiri rice paper which is very moldable, using thin strips for the branches and triangular pieces for the ball.  I used copper tissue paper on details to compliment the mica shades.  The result has a very organic feeling, not bold as brass or hard a wrought iron.  A soft glow from the brass shows through the paper.

An on-going project is the stairwell between the first floor and basement level.  First I covered an ugly painted brick wall in a wine-colored rice paper.  Then I covered the other swirl-plastered walls and ceiling with an oatmeal-colored, textured, handmade paper.  Next I découpaged the space below the handrail with dried ferns, pansies, and Japanese maple leaves from my garden.  More Japanese maple leaves have been used on the walls and ceiling.  Last year's crop of maple leaves will be used to finish the walls and ceiling before a last layer or two of water based polyurethane is applied over everything.

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