I can’t believe it’s been so long since I “découpaged”…the last time was probably 10 years ago when I made a gift for my mother-in-law using family photos collaged onto a small, wooden box. In college, I used a lot of Mod Podge for collage and mixed-media art projects. I had forgotten how fun and easy it is…and there are so many things you can do with a little bit of paper and glue!
The art of découpage has been a popular decorative technique since the 17th century, and according to the National Guild of Decoupeurs, “as far back as the 12th century, Chinese peasants were creating paper cutouts in vivid colors to decorate windows, lanterns, gift boxes and other objects. This Chinese practice and expertise with scissors is thought to have come from Eastern Siberia, where cutout felt figures and designs were decorating objects in the tombs of Siberian nomads. The tombs date back to before Christ.” Interesting! You would not believe some of the amazing artwork that has been created with découpage!
In the world of crafting and decorating, découpage has always been popular for making over old furniture or transforming everyday objects into something unique and custom. Not only is it versatile, but it’s very user-friendly for crafters of all ages! I’ve seen everything from ornaments, vases and frames to huge dressers, chairs and armoires transformed using découpage! The découpage can then be enhanced with a variety of decorative painting techniques…antiquing, distressing, gold-leaf, faux painting, etc.
A few months ago, when I saw these new Rossi Manuscript Prints (www.papermojo.com), I knew I HAD to have them for my paper “collection”….so I ordered ALL of them (if you didn’t already know, I have an addiction to paper)! I have always loved the look of old-world manuscripts, books, sheet music, calligraphy and script, and these papers made by Rossi A. Cartotecnica in Florence, Italy not only fit the bill…but they’re from one of my favorite cities in the whole world! I wasn’t sure what I would do with them at the time, but I knew they needed to be in my arsenal of decorative papers…I would find a project for them!
As soon as I saw the Mediterranean map paper…right away, I envisioned a place for it in my son’s room. Mason’s room has a vintage transportation theme, and over six years ago when I decorated his nursery, I chose maps and globes to complement the antique-looking automobiles, locomotives, airplanes, ships and motorcycles. My friend, Tiffany, who is an amazing interior designer and knows my style exactly, custom-made his crib bedding using a beautiful combination of fabrics, including this old-world map pattern.
At the last minute, she also made this valance box and curtains….which she installed just in time for Mason’s baby shower. My original plan was to paint a silhouette of a tall ship and his monogram onto the center of the valance box and then do an antiquing glaze over the off-white color…but never got around to it once Mason was born (he’s 6 years old now).
So, armed with a small jar of Mod Podge, an Exacto knife, 2 sheets of the Rossi map paper, and a wallpapering brush, I découpaged his valance box instead! Mod Podge, is THE go-to product for découpage and collage projects…it’s been around for over 40 years and is so easy to use, fast-drying and durable. First I brushed on an even coat of Mod Podge onto the valance box, then laid the paper over it, using the wallpapering brush to smooth out air bubbles. I tore the edges of the paper for the areas where the pattern would repeat, used the Exacto to trim the paper along the braided tassle, and then brushed on a thick, even topcoat of Mod Podge.
Covering the valance box took no time at all….and my husband was able to add the foam decorative “crown” molding later that afternoon! For Mason’s monogram, I found aluminum letter ornaments from Michael’s in the $1 bin and painted them bronze. They dried in a couple of hours and we used a glue gun to adhere them to the valance box.
This was a quick weekend project and I am pleased with the results, but mostly with how simple it was! Now I’m already thinking about getting to work on the next découpage project…something I’ve had planned for Isaac’s vintage circus-themed room for a couple of years….so check back! I love being excited about PAPER and PAINT!