Decoupage comes from French word ‘decouper’, meaning ‘cutting’. The technique is used to make everyday objects like furniture, boxes, cases, trays, pots, as well as many others, more attractive by gluing torn or cut paper designs onto them. The decorated surface can be wooden, metallic, ceramic, cardboard, plastic, leather or textile.

The surface is then covered several times with a special kind of lacquer or resin in order to make the design look like a hand painted pattern. The range of items which may be decorated is endless. An old, rusty drawer found somewhere in the attic can be changed into an extraordinary and unique piece of furniture that will amaze everyone. You may decorate glass plates as well as metal cans, wooden boxes and a variety of other objects.

What is known of the history of Decoupage is fascinating. It appears to date back several centuries, perhaps even to the years before Christ. It is thought that nomads from Western Siberia may have been the first to use torn pieces of felt to decorate everyday items.

In the 12th century the technique of decorating items with pieces of paper arrived in the Far East, where they used it to decorate windows and boxes. The technique was carried on the trade route from China to Europe, where it rapidly became a well known method of decoration, as the demand for oriental items exceeded supply. In order to meet society’s needs Venetian painters and carpenters started to use the technique to create imitations of popular objects

A later revival of decoupage occurred in 17th and 18th century Venice as Decoupage became popular with such historic figures as Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour and Beau Brummell. The acclaimed Polish and German tradition of creating paper cut-outs had a great influence on the modern form of Decoupage. In the 18th century this technique was given recognition and considered an art form, and its makers artists. The most famous Decoupage artist of that time was Mary Delaney, an English woman and close friend of Jonathan Swift and William Hogarth. living in England and Ireland between 1700 – 1788. At the age of 71 she started to produce botanical reproductions of plants and flowers by cutting out and assembling hand-coloured fine paper. Her precision and talent were noticed by the Queen of England, Charlotte of Mecklenburg- Sterlitz. Unfortunately Delaney had to stop creating at the age of 88 due to her weakening eyesight. She called her art ‘paper mosaics’, and samples of her work which can still be admired today in many British museums.

Many artists have cut motifs and glued them onto surfaces in order to fulfill their vision. Decoupage was used inter alia by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.


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