Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Rejuvenating with decoupage

Decoupage is a simple and inexpensive way of changing the look of many older items in the home, as Ghada Abdel-Kader finds out

Al-Ahram Weekly

“Decoupage can transform plain surfaces into fabulous pieces of art, but it is not yet as popular as it should be in Egypt,” says Hoda Belal, 59, a decoupage designer.

According to Belal, involved in decoupage design for the last five years, decoupage is the art of decorating objects by gluing coloured paper cut-outs to them in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and other decorative elements. “It allows you to add charm and beauty to your home by personalising objects you already own in the way you want,” she says.

Belal loves renovating and renewing old objects. She also loves drawing sketches and using acrylic paints on glass, silk fabrics and ceramic tiles. She has now invested much of her time in decorating old pieces of furniture with creative new designs of her own. These she also sells on line on her Facebook page.

“Decoupage is a stunning and simple way to decorate household items from small vases to large pieces of furniture,” she comments.

The possibilities are endless, as decoupage can be used on different materials and objects such as wood, plastic, metal, glass, fibreglass, mirrors, accessories, porcelain, ceramic, dishes, trays, candles, fabrics, napkins and wall clocks. It can also be used on wooden curtain rods.

“It gives beauty and a gorgeous finish to your home. It can be used on silver, gold or copper painted furniture,” she adds. “Decoupage gives objects the appearance and natural look of real painting, which can add liveliness and beauty to any house.” Very few things cannot benefit from decoupage. “You can change designs you dislike, and you can remove existing decoupage papers and colours and try again if you wish,” Belal explains.

Decoupage needs concentration and patience, however, and the size of the object concerned will determine how much time it needs. The tools required include acrylic colours, brushes, sponges, adhesive glue, and varnishes. “The type of varnish depends on the object and whether it’s wood or glass, for example. Decoupage paper is available in Egypt, but not in the variety available abroad,” Belal says.

This has caused Belal to look for alternatives, and she has started using an inkjet printer to transfer designs to various materials using tissue paper.  First, choose an image, she says. Then, take a layer of tissue paper and iron it with a regular household iron to free it from wrinkles or creases. Glue the tissue paper down on an A3 or A4 sheet of paper using a glue spray. Finally, cut the paper to the size you want and print on it.

“I take images from books, or texts like poems or stories, or even personal photographs, big or small, and use them as the basis of decoupage,” comments Belal. She believes that anyone can learn decoupage, regardless of age. “Everyone has his or her own taste,” she says.

Her advice for beginners is to start with commercially available decoupage papers and to practice first on small items. “Ability may differ from person to person, but it is easy to teach yourself through the Internet or books. It took me six months to become professional,” she explains, adding that she has given an oriental touch to her home by adding the flavour of Arab culture to decoupage. She has invented Ramadan decorations that feature tanoura (an Egyptian folk dance) and khayameya (traditional textiles), for example.

According to Belal, the colours of decoupage do not fade provided several layers of varnish are applied, preventing the infiltration of water or dust. Cleaning decoupaged pieces simply means using dusting with a feather duster and a moist cloth or cotton towel.

So if you have any old or broken items that carry special memories, try decoupage. This can fix damaged or broken pieces and change them into fabulous new ones.

How to decoupage:

* Select the object you want to decorate and sand it down to make it smooth, making sure the object is clean and dry.

* Apply glue to the surface of the object and slowly stick smooth paper or fabric on to it. Ensure that this is firmly pressed down and any air is squeezed out.

* Wipe off any excess glue with a light sponge and allow the paper or fabric and glue to dry before applying a layer of varnish.

* Leave time for the varnish to fully dry between each coat to achieve the perfect look.

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