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Decoupage has been a popular crafting technique since the 12th century, when Chinese communities would decorate their boxes, windows and lanterns with bright paper cut outs. However, the practice of cutting and gluing in this style actually came from East Siberia; native Siberians would create felt cut outs to decorate nomadic tombs.
Decoupage paper is specially designed to apply quickly, easily and smoothly to just about any object or surface. Although practically any form of paper can be used in this technique, it’s advised to use decoupage papers because of their weight and the broad variety of decorative designs available.
Decoupage glue is widely thought to just be watered down PVA glue, however it’s actually specially formulated for decoupage. Not only does it provide the adhesive properties required to stick your papers to a surface, but it also contains sealers and varnishes to create the desired decoupage finish.
Scissors are essential in any form of papercrafting – including decoupage. Instead of gluing large pieces of paper to an object, decoupage is more effective when you use smaller cut-out designs with more detail and intricacy. Other than a small pair of sharp scissors, a craft knife would work too.
Cloths and sponges have a simple task in decoupage; they’re simply used to wipe away any excess decoupage glue. These essential items ensure that your object has a sleek, clean finish by smoothing out wrinkles, creases and air bubbles, and removing drops of glue from the surface of your work.
It is possible to make an interpretation of decoupage glue, but let’s face it; it won’t be as effective as the real thing. There’s a common assumption that decoupage glue is made up of a mixture PVA glue and water, yet these DIY decoupage glue concoctions tend to yellow or peel over time. Why is that? They don’t have the essential sealing and varnishing properties that decoupage requires.
One of the most popular decoupage glue brands is Mod Podge – and they really know their stuff. Contrary to popular belief, their glues feature decoupage-specific qualities that other forms of craft glue don’t have. PVA glue, or craft glue, works well in general craft projects, however it doesn’t share the same ingredients as Mod Podge, which leaves in a stronger bond in decoupage.
It’s true that decoupage glue is thinner than craft glues, however diluting PVA with water will only weaken the strength of the medium. Specialist decoupage glues paste, seal and varnish your project. To make decoupage even more versatile, Mod Podge has actually released a variety of different formulas that each produce different finished effects in your crafting. Classic Mod Podge is the original decoupage medium, coming in ‘Gloss’ or ‘Matte’ finishes, but you can also find ‘Antique’, ‘Brushstroke’, ‘Glitter’, ‘Satin’, ‘Sparkle’, ‘Glow-in-the-Dark’, ‘Kids Wash Out’, and many more effects.