I think I’ve been decoupaging since I can remember. Originally a Victorian past time it is beautifully described in Wikipedia as the following,
“Decoupage or Découpage is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and other decorative elements. Commonly, an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cutouts from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers.”
My definition is to cover anything and everything the white glue you had at school that used to stick your fingers together with (and was stored in little cinema film black containers with a grey lid if you are as old as me). When you are little that means grabbing a box of cornflakes and after scoffing the residual packet because you were too impatient to wait for it to be emptied then grabbing whatever you had in your craft box including tissue paper; glitter and sequins to make a jewelry box.
As an adult I’ve only refined my technique a little. I now buy the very pretty; if a little expensive Decopatch papers which is a really lovely brand that sells these papers and nicer jars of the glue. I still use traditional white PVA glue as it’s the best and cheapest but I do use paintbrushes as the little plastic glue sticks you had as a kid really cut it anymore.
So grab any object you want to cover. Every Christmas one of my work suppliers sends us boxes of chocolates and cups in these really cute wooden boxes so they are perfect for covering. Fill a separate put with PVA glue. Add a tiny bit of water if it’s particularly thick. I use disposable plastic bowls that meant for bulk birthday parties. I think they cost me a few pounds for 100. This means you only pour out what you need and you don’t have to wash the pot when you are done. I do wash my paintbrushes but make sure you do it straight away and will super hot soapy water and they come out fine.
Next grab your paper. You can use the posh printed ones or standard tissue paper but be careful with the really cheap stuff meant for kids as the dyes can leak it once mixed with the glue. Do a trial if in doubt. Your initial temptation is to rip the paper into tiny pieces but actually I’ve found you can keep the integrity of the pretty pattern by doing in my larger sheets. Brush a thin layer of glue on your item then press the paper on top. If the glue hasn’t seeped through yet use your brush or hands to really smooth it down. They get some more glue and brush over the top. Repeat until you item is covered.
I’d also recommend doing a final glue layer to give it protection.
I stuck down some felt on the inside of the box to make a nice lining but you can decoupage that too if you like.