Upcycled Decoupage

IMG-20120801-01050For starters, we’ll have a language lesson.

It’s pronounced DAY-KOO-PAJ and essentially is a crafting technique that’s super simple and yields great results, even for novices.  I once taught my non-artistic summer roommate in college to do it with magazine pages from AFAR and Conde Naste Traveler and it looked brilliant until some people (fools!) thought the paper was accidentally stuck to the folding tray tables and goo-goned the masterpieces. FOOLS!

Decoupaging can be done with a variety of materials, requires very little material, is quick and waterproof. You can make coasters, table tops, vases, all sorts of functional things look stunningly unique.

IMG-20120716-00835This decoupaging project was born from the need to rehab old frames and boring artwork left behind by a previous tenant (see left). The raw material was good and the idea of hanging frames behind a kitchen sink over rather dull tile was also novel, but the art itself was phony and kitsch… Even for me! So with a bit of scrap paper from DIY greeting card making ventures, paint sample pages left over from Collective Upcycle paper roses and with a pile of Trader Joe’s brown paper bags with their whimsically illustrated utensils and Victorian characters, I transformed these mundane hangings into droll piece of one of a kind art!


trader-joes-bag (1) Paper / Brown bags. I prefer TJ’s because of the prints, which change seasonally. The medium here is only bound by your imagination. Encyclopedia pages, or anything with a lot of text, are also tres cool.

(2) Scissors.

(3) ModgePodge. Or, water down Elmer’s white glue to a solution of 1/2 H2O, 1/2 paste.

(4) Old frames, cardboard, scraps of wood. Again, boundless.

(5) Spongy paintbrush.


(1) Clean item #4. The frames I used were so grimy 😦

IMG-20120716-00839(2) Leave the lid on the glue for now and start cutting and arranging your pieces in a collage. The number of materials you use is up to you as a minimalist or maximalist. I am a maxi all the way, which is why I had to stop myself from using ALL of the spoons and forks!

(3) When you’ve become happy with your arrangement, IMG-20120801-01044memorize the placement and remove all layers. Begin by spreading a thin layer of glue on the backside of the bottom most layer. (TIP: This sounds harder than it is, after all, the glue is flexible for a bit after you place it down and glue smudges will disappear like magic, so no worries!)

IMG-20120801-01046(4) Continue pasting the paper down. Smooth over the top face of the paper with a brush loaded with glue to create the sealant against water. Two coats is plenty, three is a safe bet at edges / overlaps.

The key to decoupaging is to use the right adhesive/sealer. Modpodge is my go-to as it works as a glue and also dries perfectly clear (fairly quickly) and creates a watertight seal, too.


(5) Viola! Allow to dry before transporting from the green pasture where you made your art (I started mine indoors and then moved to a park to craft while listening to live music) to your abode.

IMG-20120801-01048Wasn’t that fun and easy with just as many steps as there are materials! Now, what to do with all these other cut-outs from TJ’s bags? (This pile may or may not be an indicator of my addiction to TJ’s and such things as their wasabi almonds or masala veggie burgers.)

IMG-20120724-00943And what to do with these wine bottle labels? (This photograph may or may not be an indicator of my paper hoarding problem.

Oh no, let’s just continue the disillusion that I am “upcycling”.)

One thought on “Upcycled Decoupage

  1. Pingback: WOW indeed « Cleveland Socialite

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