How to decoupage photos

Decoupage is an inexpensive way to decorate the surface of almost any object with different types of paper cutouts. Decoupage can be added to anything from a piece of plain wood to a picture frame to an entire wall. The sky’s the limit with a bit of knowledge and preparation.

Getting Started:

Decide on the surface you want to cover. Virtually all surfaces are suitable for decoupage. As an example, a wood surface is an easy surface to cover. Once you have chosen the surface to cover, choose your artwork. This can be any type of picture, wallpaper, magazine cutout, etc. If you choose a photograph, however, I would recommend scanning your picture into your computer and then printing out a nice copy to actually decoupage.

Start by preparing the surface of the wood to receive the decoupage treatment. In most instances, a light sanding is all that would be required to ready the surface. Use fine grit sandpaper, 400-grit works well, and then carefully remove any grit remaining from the surface using a clean, cotton cloth.

Once the surface of the wood has been sanded and cleaned, apply a small amount of a decoupage medium to the surface of the wood. You can use a ready-made medium such as Mod Podge available at your local craft store or for a more inexpensive glue, mix 3 parts Elmer’s glue to 1 part water. Using a sponge paintbrush, apply a smooth coat of the glue to the surface of the wood.

Apply a second coating of glue to the back of the picture you have chosen. Carefully place the picture onto the prepared surface starting at one end, gently pressing down the picture to keep air bubbles from forming. Smooth the picture down with a clean, foam paintbrush, being careful not to rip the wet picture. Allow the picture to completely dry and then apply several coats of the decoupage glue or clear varnish to the surface of the picture, allowing sufficient drying time between coats. Once the picture is completely dry, apply a final coating of the acrylic sealant to completely seal the picture.

Tips and Tricks:

Tear the edges of the picture you are attaching rather than cut it to give another element to the design you are creating. With the decoupage, you can overlap pictures to create a hodgepodge type finish. Layout the pictures before applying any glue to create the effect you want. Decoupage can be added to pieces of furniture as easy as or easier than stripping and painting. Consider decoupaging an old trunk or lamp table to create a personalized piece of furniture.

To keep air bubbles from forming when applying your picture to the glued surface, try using a can of air. Spray the air while holding the picture at an angle against the surface, working your way slowing and surely from the top to the bottom to attach the picture with a minimal of bubbling. Use caution when applying varnish or acrylic sealer to your project. Work outdoors or in a well ventilated area to keep the fumes at bay.

When preparing a wood surface to accept a decoupage, be sure and fill in any dents or blemishes in the surface of the wood prior to applying the decoupage treatment. Use wood filler and then sand the surface smooth. Carefully remove any dust and grit from the surface using a clean, cotton cloth. Make cutting out delicate areas of prints easier with the use of an X-Acto knife or a pair of small manicure scissors. Almost any surface can be decoupaged. Wood, metal or glass are just a few of the surfaces that can be covered successfully.

When preparing

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