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Decoupage Techniques

Remember: You are limited only by your imagination.


Decorative Paint Finishes - Veera Nolan
Extending Your Design - Sandra Dennis
Design - Sandra Dennis
Getting it Right (petal designs on eggs) - Veera Nolan


By Veera Nolan

All paints are made up of pigment which provides colour, a binder or medium in which the pigment is suspended and which binds the paint to the surface, and a solvent which dilutes the mixture to make it flow smoothly and evenly. the solvent evaporates in the drying process and leaves an even, dry coating on the surface.

The durability and hardness and absorbency of the painted surface, depends on the type of pigment, binder and solvent used.

In the past, limestone was soaked in water and animal fat was added to it as a binder. The mixture was allowed to ferment until it was ready to use.. Natural pigments, like ochre and red oxide, were added to give it colour.

Today, natural ingredients have been replaced by synthetic substitutes, making the paint more durable and easier to use. All water based paints may be diluted with water and used as a colour wash. Once the water based paint has dried, it is no longer water soluble.

Water based glaze

Sometimes called Scumble (or Spreader) it is a transparent gel-like substance that appears milky when wet, but dries to a clear finish. It can be diluted with water. This type of glaze retards the drying process of water based paints giving more time to create decorative finishes.

Tips on mixing paints

When mixing pale colours or tints, start with a white base and add small amounts of colour.

Black is not always the best colour to use to darken a colour. It can often change the colour completely, or make it dull, e.g. yellow + black will turn olive green. Raw Umber can be a successful substitute.

If a colour is too bright, e.g. bright green, a small amount of a complimentary colour can be added. In this case, red can be added, which will cause a slight dulling.

If pastel colours are too sweet, a drop of Raw Umber will reduce the glare without changing the overall effect of the colour.

Frottage Method

Aged wall plaster is used to describe old plaster, painted with lime wash, tinted with earth colours. The technique of simulating old walls is very popular with the reversion to natural colours.

Aged Wall Plaster

Water based paint of any of the following earth colours

  1. Yellow Ochre and Raw Sienna
  2. Raw sienna and Burnt umber
  3. Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber.
  4. Mix one or two colours. Dilute paint mixture with water to required colour. Add 20% scumble glaze to extend working time. Brush in random, pattern on to object.
  5. Take some newspaper & crumple it, press it into the wet paint using your hands in a fanning movement from the outer edges, towards the centre. Peel off the paper.

A second, darker paint mix may be applied using the above method. When completely dry, sand lightly to expose the base coat.

Creating a layered lime look

  1. White base coat.
  2. Select any combination of the above colour schemes. A little, very weak, black wash may be added to the finish.
  3. Mix yellow ochre with a little raw sienna. Add water to obtain the desired colour. Apply to your object in a random pattern. 4. Dry well
  4. When this coat of paint is dry, brush torn pieces of newspaper with a wet brush. Now paint with a darker coloured pain mixture and then peel off the newspaper to expose the base coat.

Thanks Vera

There will be more hints in later Snippets


By Sandra Dennis

Extensions can be made easier by the following exercises. 1. STUDY the needs of the design work before beginning to paint. Sometimes very little detail is needed on "less important" areas e.g. near edges of work. Do not detract from the main focal area by using too much detail in the extensions. Detractions can be can be caused by using too much detail, too much unsuitable colour, colour that obviously does not match or heavy line work.

2. DRAW extensions on clear plastic to determine the "match" of shape required. Do not be afraid to experiment by - fading lines into oblivion, softening edges or creating another element to cover the edge, e.g. in a landscape many things can be hidden by grass. Hatching can also be added & faded around some designs to avoid having to colour match small areas.

3. PAINT a trial extension on a piece of paper to ensure that colours match & that the drawing is suitable in colour. Let this dry then check that the colours are still matching in the dry state. Some paint will dry a lighter colour than when in the wet state.

4. IF you find that you cannot entirely match the colour, & some are very difficult, intersperse your "almost matching" colour onto the picture to tie in the slightly different colour.

Design Help Suggestions

Find a subject to suit the article, or vice versa.

Learn to recognise colours e.g. cool or warm & just the fact that they are there. A tree is not just green leaves & a brown trunk as we used to depict them in kindergarten. There are many colours in foliage, including red, yellow, green & blue in various degrees of tone. Some leaves shine & give reflected colour. This is just one of many examples of reflected colour that we do not stop, in our busy lives, to study.

Take note of line work or edges used in designs e.g. clean cut, ragged, soft or fuzzy. These can set the mood of a piece.

View your piece from a suitable distance, to ensure that what you have done"works". Things often look OK close up, but appear insignificant at a distance. Keep any lines, leading out of the picture, soft or "unimportant" so your eye doesn't follow them out of the picture, but remains on, or is led back into, or around, the focal area.

Keep backgrounds interesting, but not overpowering.

Other Suggestions

  • Make files for subjects e.g. People, places, animals and birds, flowers, buildings, land and seascapes, abstract designs, background ideas.
  • Try any new ideas before condemning them.
  • Balance lines, balance colour.
  • Make use of textures materials and photography.
  • Rag or paper roll for textured effect. Crop areas and resize, sometimes dramatically.

May some of the above help someone somewhere, sometime, to do something somewhat easier.

Thanks Sandra


by Sandra Dennis

Designing is when we create to stimulate, or affect our emotions in the following manner; by exciting, by shocking, by pleasing, by relaxing, by amusing or by appealing in some way. We do this with many mediums. People can do it with mannerisms or speech or deeds. Artists do it with a manipulation of colour, shapes and textures. Balancing these components is not always easy, but with practice it becomes a natural ability akin to cooking the dinner for the family! (for some people). Mind you, I have mastered neither skill to date. However, I have found that over years it has become easier to recognise when things are not quite right, do not balance properly, or have some error which creates a flaw in my work. This is sometimes corrected easily, sometimes it takes quite a lot of experimenting and trials to satisfy the eye. That is the important word - the "eye". Of course, you know that the eye is in collusion with the brain, so getting these to agree that the work you are about to view & do is acceptable, may take some time, if you block their progress by thinking too laterally.

So I ask you to have an open mind, forget tradition for once, and most of all; have fun creating something very different. You will be surprised, not only by your creativity -- of which I know you all have plenty -- but by the different direction in which you can either guide, or let it escape, into! One of my favourite sayings (to myself) is "relax and let it happen". This tends to work well for art, fishing, bingo and many other pleasant things, and helps get through the tough situations also. Many 'accidents' in art turn out to be very acceptable items, e.g. dropping coloured shapes of paper onto collage can be the easiest way to get a 'free & easy' effect successfully without much effort. Accidental splats of paint can also create the diversion your artwork needs, and you can do some line work from these to make them 'tie in' or belong. Don't be worried that the person sitting next to you seems to be doing marvels - just do your own thing & it will be unique.

I hope this will help you relax into creating a piece of work that you will get pleasure and satisfaction from, and which leads you in an exciting direction which can be applied to your Decoupage work.

Getting It Right

by Veera Nolan

Last year, Vera Nolan taught us how to decorate eggs with the pieces left over after we remove stickers from the sheet - the negative pieces. However, first she showed us how to get an even design on both poles of the egg. She provided diagrams, which I have reproduced here.

First, decide whether you want a 4, 6, or 8 point design.

For a simple 4 petal design

First draw two intersecting lines, crossing at right angles. Using a compass, set it at the desired measurement (10 mm for the small pole of a hen egg) and draw a circle around the centre spot. Still using the compass, move the point to where the circle crosses one of the lines, and draw a semicircle. Do the same on the other three lines and you will have a four petal flower shape, which will fit nicely on the small end of a hen egg.

mso-wrap-distance-left:3.75pt;mso-wrap-distance-top:0; mso-wrap-distance-right:3.75pt;mso-wrap-distance-bottom:0; mso-position-horizontal:left;mso-position-horizontal-relative:text; mso-position-vertical:absolute;mso-position-vertical-relative:line' o:allowoverlap="f"> For the large end, change the measurement to 17mm and repeat.

For goose eggs, of course you will use larger measurements.

After making the flower shapes cut them out and trace them on to the egg with a soft pencil. The trick then is to get the petals of both ends to match.

For an 8 petal design

Just add two more dissecting lines across the central spot, and repeat the semicircles

A 6 point design

Requires the circle ( radius line) to be divided into six equal parts and the lines drawn through the centre. Repeat the semicircles.

After making the flower shapes cut them out and trace them on to the egg , making sure that each end matches exactly.. Then you can start your masterpiece, making either straight , sloping or curved lines to join the two ends. The fun bit is making a beautiful design using all those waste bits of the stickers.