Basic Decoupage Paper Crafts


Scissors or craft knife

Magazines or wrapping paper

Object to decorate

Repositionable spray adhesive

Clear gloss and flat varnish


Fine-grade sandpaper

Raw umber artist's oil paint (optional)

Clear wax furniture polish

Soft cloth


  • Spray adhesive fumes are dangerous if inhaled, so always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using it, work in a well-ventilated room and never use it near children!


Decoupage, derived from the French meaning "to cut up," is the craft of cutting out paper designs and motifs, gluing them to a surface and applying as many layers of varnish as needed to attain a completely smooth finish. While the technique dates back centuries to the Far East, it gained most of its popularity in Europe during the Victorian era.
Collect old-style gift wrap or modern images to use on your creation. It's possible to combine any images that you like, but its best to use a common theme, like plants or angels, for maximum effect. You can use this technique on any item which can be varnished to turn something ordinary into something exquisite. Bear in mind that the process from start to finish is time-consuming, but the effort really is worth it in the end!


Cut out your motifs and images as accurately as possible from gift wrap or magazines. Unless the item you are decorating has a pleasing surface color and texture, you’ll need to cut out enough images to cover the whole surface of your object, allowing space for the images to overlap slightly.

Position the cut-out images on your object in the design of your choice. Feel free to play with different options and positions until you find the design you like most.

Remove the cut-outs from the object, remembering the layout of your choice. Spray adhesive over the entire surface of the object.

Place the cut-out images onto the surface of the object. If you like the item’s surface, position the cut-outs with some overlapping and others with spaces between them. If you want to cover the whole surface, feel free to do so.

If you’d like an antique finish to your creation, you can tint your varnish with a little raw umber paint for added effect.

Apply a coat of gloss varnish and allow to dry.

Apply a coat of flat varnish and allow to dry.



Historically, decoupage was considered “the art of the poor man.” Today, original Victorian decoupage items are expensive collector’s items and store-bought decoupage products are not inexpensive either. With practice, you could turn this craft into a profitable business.