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What Is Decoupage? - Decoupage Arts & Crafts Ideas & Tutorials

Updated on July 3, 2020

Learning How To Decoupage Is Fun and Easy Too!

What exactly is Decoupage?

Well, it is quite simply the cutting out of paper designs and gluing them onto your surface of choice and then finishing the piece with a heavy coat of laquer to get a shiny and smooth finish.

Learning how to decoupage a relatively simple and straightforward process. If you know how to use scissors, glue and a paintbrush, you're all set to start crafting with decoupage!

The rock pictured in this module was decoupaged with roses cut from a paper napkin, and this art is simply called Napkin Decoupage.

It's done by peeling a paper napkin and decoupaging the top printed layer onto a canvas of your choice.  It is a simple, beautiful, inexpensive and fun way to decorate practically anything.

While making beautiful decorative pieces through the art of decoupage is a relaxing and inexpensive hobby, you can also use decoupage to make beautiful gifts as well!  :)  

A pastime that can be enjoyed by both children and adults alike, today's decoupage is so much easier than ever before because of the resources available.

Are you ready?  Let's get started!


Wood is a great canvas for decoupage

Decoupaged Birdhouse


These are Pringles cans that have been decoupaged


What To Decoupage, That is the Question!

You can purchase all kinds of unfinished wood pieces to decoupage on at craft stores like Michaels and A.C. Moore.

With these pieces you can make gorgeous welcome plaques, frames, birdhouses, and jewelry boxes – the possibilities are endless!

For cutouts I really find Dover Publications to have a massive selection of pictures you can buy and produce from the CD's that accompany the individual books to produce unique pictures for my decoupage projects.

Don't forget about using napkins as a source for pictures too. Just visit Party City or a local party store for many choices.

There are so many books available through Dover but I must admit that the flowers are my favorites. I have a quick method of downloading pictures from the internet as well that may interest you. It will be in the next text module in this lens so, if you're interested, keep reading.

Learn How To Decoupage a Milk Bottle (link below picture)


Where to Find Flowers to Cut Out and What to Do With Them Once You Do

Dover Publications!

Decoupage is the method of cutting out prints and adhering them to another surface.

The art of decoupage takes a lot of patience. I sometimes use decoupage in my work to give it an extra real look and to give me a guideline to paint on and always paint and embellish any decoupage cut outs that I use both before and after cutting them out.

To decoupage on a rock you will need paper prints to cut out. One of the places I look for cutouts is the Dover catalogues. They have what seems to be an endless choice of prints to choose from.

The Dover Publications books that I choose from are the flower series and come with a colorful picture of each flower and a CD so that the images can be printed in all different sizes just by following the instructions on the CD that comes with the book. I am not sure if all of the books come with a CD, but if they do it will be indicated in the product description.

The method I use to download and print is a very easy one and a little less involved than the way they instruct you on the CD that comes with the book. So the process would be as follows:

1. Insert CD into hard drive and wait for pictures to upload.

2. Find the picture you want to print on the computer

3. Right click on the picture you want

4. Select "Copy"

5. Open another window and bring up a blank Word Processing document.

6. Click "Paste" into the word doc.

7. Now in the Word document, the picture you selected should appear. If you right click on the picture within the word document itself , you should then see your image become outlined in black with dots, sort of like a frame. If you click on the image at this point you should be able to adjust the size of the picture with your mouse to fit the size of your project.

I realize this is not the method they tell you to use with the CD, but it's less involved than the way the program they give you with the CD.

Of course, you can learn their way if you want and it might be beneficial for you to do so, but my way is just a quick and simple way and, quite honestly, the only way I use.


What You Will Need to Get Started

1.  Something inexpensive and simple to decoupage onto such as a wooden plaque.

2.  Cutouts of something you would like to decorate your plaque with such as flowers, birds, or butterflies.

3.  Large scissors to cut out your flowers or designs that you choose.

4.  Small nail scissors, possibly with a curved edge, for more detailed cutting of your design and getting close to edges as possible.

5.  Colored penspencils or markers to enhance the color of the designs you cut out.  You can use a pen to outline stencil the word you choose and then fill it in with a Deco paint pen (these are decorative paint pens and if you use the fine point pens they are great for filling in letters – A.C. Moore carries a good supply) .  You can also color in the letters with a nice black jelly pen which you can also buy at most craft stores.

6.  Alphabet or letter stencil  to write a word such as ''Welcome' or perhaps a family name if you so desire to include that.


7.  Drill to drill holes in wooden plaque (very easy to do).


8.  Modge Podge (sealant) to use as glue for your designs and then to seal your plaque with once designs are glued down.

9.  Paint brushes to apply the Mod Podge with.

10.  Craft wire to put through drilled holes to hang your plaque.

Sample picture of flowers from Dover's Ladies Flower Garden CD

This is just one  picture sample out of almost 200 from the Dover Publication, Ladies Flower Garden available at the Amazon link above this picture.
This is just one picture sample out of almost 200 from the Dover Publication, Ladies Flower Garden available at the Amazon link above this picture. | Source

How to Decoupage

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. If you are using a wooden piece for your canvas, sand the edges to get a nice smooth finish. If you're using a wooden egg purchased from the craft store, chances are you won't need to sand it, but just paint the base in a nice background color.

 2. Decide what design you are going to use to decoupage with, print out picture(s) and arrange on your piece WITHOUT glue to see where you want everything to go.


3. Cut out the design(s) first around the whole picture using large scissors.

 4. Define the print by using a pair of curved nail scissors and carefully cutting as close to the edges of the print as possible.

 5. Lay the design(s) on a scrap piece of paper after it's been cut out.

 6. Go over the design(s) that have been cut out with colored pens, markers, pencils or acylic paint enhance the color and make them more vibrant if you wish (this is optional but I feel it gives your designs a more professional look)

 7. Once your design is color enhanced and dries completely, apply white craft glue or Modge Podge to the back of the design.  Carefully place it in the position you have decided on with your fingers (or tweezers) and just smooth the design on to the background. You may want to use thin craft gloves or you can also use a damp rag to smooth it over but make sure there's not too much water on the rag or paper towel as you don't want to saturate it.

 8. Continue this process until the piece looks the way you would like it to look, adding flowers where you feel they look the best. You might want to mix flowers in with other kinds but try to decide before using the glue to avoid mistakes.

 9. After it dries, and using your best judgement as to how long the word is that you want to stencil, position your stencil and using a pencil, stencil the word or words onto your piece. Go over the letters once you are satisfied with their placement with a black jelly pen or a black Deco art pen with a fine point.

10. Place two pencil marks at the top of your design where you think a hanger would look nice and using an electric drill, drill the holes (I was afraid of using a drill until I actually tried it, and I'm happy to say it's not difficult at all).

11. Using a large brush, cover your piece with Modge Podge at least three times waiting for it to dry in between each coat.

12. Thread your craft wire through the drilled holes from the back to the front and curl the ends a few times with a pair of pliers (or your fingers as craft wire is very flexible) in the front after the wire goes through to give it a beautiful and professional look and also to keep the wire from falling off (see the intro module picture for reference to this step at the very top of this page).


Napkin Decoupage

Did you know you can use napkins for decoupage? Well, you can!

You can find pretty napkins in a lot of different stores today. The variety of patterns is huge. I just went to a store near me called Tuesday Morning (a home furnishing store) and there I found a beautiful selection of napkins to use for decoupage. There were almost too many to pick from! Pictures of my selections are below this section.

I decided on six packages and can not wait to get started. I will post a picture of my finished welcome plaque when I'm done, Here are directions for napkin decoupage...


wood plaque or a slate plaque

sand paper (optional, but probably necessary if you've chosen wood piece for your project)

pretty napkins with prints large enough to cut

large scissors

small nail scissors with a straight edge

small nail scissors with a curved edge

Mod Podge

paint brushes

acrylic paint

Glossy sealant spray


  • Paint wooden plaque or slate with white paint or a light color of your choice. Apply at least three coats to making sure to cover evenly (you may need to sand it first).
  • Cut out your prints from your napkins. Cut around the image leaving the background on the napkin. After you have your image cut out , make sure to trim your images well up to the edge, this is what you will need the small straight edge scissors and curved scissors for.
  • After your images are well trimmed, gently peel the under layers from your images. Be very careful with this step as the paper is very delicate.
  • Arrange your images on your background piece (make sure to leave room at the top of the image if you would like to add a word such as "Welcome" to the top of your project).
  • After you have satisfactorily placed your images, remove them one at a time and using the Mod Podge, glue them down on to your background piece.
  • Wait for this to dry thoroughly, and go over the entire piece with Mod Podge at least three times. Seal with a brilliant glossy spray sealer once the initial 3 layers of Mod Podge have been brushed over the image.

Learn How to Decoupage with Napkins!

Beautiful tray decoupaged with roses and birds
Beautiful tray decoupaged with roses and birds | Source

Paper napkins are available on Amazon to use in decoupage projects, here is just one of many!

C.R. Gibson TW7-18717 Lenox Butterfly Meadow Disposable Lunch Napkins, 6.5'' W x 6.5'' L, 20pcs
C.R. Gibson TW7-18717 Lenox Butterfly Meadow Disposable Lunch Napkins, 6.5'' W x 6.5'' L, 20pcs
Floral napkins are everywhere! My suggestion is to purchase a pattern with large images like this one so they can be easily cut out and applied to your project.

Beautiful Napkins are a Great Source for Decoupage Projects

I found these napkins at a store called Tuesday Morning.  They have a wonderful selection!
I found these napkins at a store called Tuesday Morning. They have a wonderful selection!

You can find napkis like these at stores like Tuesday Morning or Party City

Napkin Decoupage Tutorial

Plaque Made Using Napkin Decoupage


Candle Holders Made with Napkin Decoupage Technique

Have you ever tried Decoupage?

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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Decoupage is a very fun art form, maybe I'll fit some in with my granddaughter this weekend, I know she'll love it and its been a while for me too.

    • agoofyidea profile image


      9 years ago

      Great craft idea. Fun lens. If you have made more items It would be fun to see them. Your art is wonderful.


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