Decoupage technique, first steps


With this fun activity we will learn the decoupage technique with which we can incorporate various patterns into an object in order to make it look painted. Such items can be wooden boxes, candles, mirrors, trays, vases, flower pots and larger items such as furniture.


  • Increase the kinesthetic abilities of the participants
  • Encouraging the creativity of the individual
  • Increased dexterity and better hand-eye coordination
  • Development of discipline, patience and perseverance

Duration: 180 min

Number of participants: 5 – 10


Wooden box, rice paper, stencil, metallic gold color, lace, decoupage glue, acrylic paints, patina.


Initially the instructor gives a short lecture with information about the technique:

Decoupage has a long and fascinating history. This art consists of a large number of techniques and styles that were applied in various distant countries. For centuries decoupage has fascinated many famous figures in history and art such as Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, Lord Byron, Beau Brummel, or more modern ones such as Matisse or Picassso.

In the 12th century, Chinese peasants made colorful paper ornaments to decorate windows, paper lanterns, decorative boxes, and other objects. The Chinese enthusiasm for paper as well as the very good management of the scissors, have their roots in Eastern Siberia, where they decorated the tombs of the locals with paper ornaments as well as ornaments. This custom extends to the time before the birth of Christ.

However, the birth of what decoupage we know in practice today, is related to the seventeenth century. Then the furniture from the Far East became popular, with a final wax finish. Europe went crazy with wax-finished items, while orders exceeded the production capacity of manufacturers in the Far East. Taking advantage of the huge demand, the craftsmen of Venice began to produce furniture imitating the distant eastern candle called lacca contrafatta – imitation lacquer.

The craftsmen began to accept students, who were engaged in coloring copies of works and drawings of popular artists of the time. The colored designs were cut, the compositions were glued to the objects they wanted to decorate and they were covered with many coats of varnish. In this way they made furniture as well as various small things that resembled the popular items imported from China and Japan.

The instructor then guides the trainees step by step:

Step 1: Properly prepare the area where you will work the decoupage technique. Choose a large clean surface to use as a workbench. Clean it, pick up any items and put on a protective cloth or plastic to protect it from the glue.

Tip: the area where you work the decoupage technique is well ventilated.

Step 2: Select the item you want to decorate. The best choice for someone who is just starting out working decoupage is a wooden object with an easy shape & flat surfaces like a box. However, you can apply decoupage to any object such as a candle, a bottle, etc.

Step 3: Now it’s time to choose the pattern you want to decorate your item. It is better at this stage before you cut a pattern, to do various tests to decide if you really like it and in which position of the object you will place it.


Step 4: Carefully cut the pattern or image you have chosen with scissors so that you do not include parts of it that you do not want.

Tip: after you cut your pattern then you can use a knife for greater accuracy.

Step 5: With a brush you will put a minimum amount of glue on the spot where you have decided to place your pattern. Be careful, a large amount of glue will create bubbles and will probably tear your pattern later.

Step 6: Place the pattern where you want it, taking care not to get air from below because it will wrinkle. Be careful not to have glue on your hands because your pattern will be torn.

Step 7: With your brush again apply a very thin layer of glue (minimum amount) with slow and gentle movements so that the pattern you have chosen does not move or tear. Then let it dry.

Step 8: This is an optional step. After your object has dried very well, apply 2-3 coats of varnish with great care and it is necessary that the previous layer has dried well before applying the second.

Expected outcomes:

At the end of the activity participants will be able to:

  • To use the decoupage technique to give new value to old objects
  • They use their imagination creatively
  • Organize and perform a series of steps related to the decoupage technique