History of Decoupage

The practice of layering objects with cutouts lathered in glue may seem like a new craft, but the history of decoupage has deep roots.

In fact, the history of decoupage can trace its roots to the twelfth century in China. It is widely thought that the practice came to China from Siberia, where Nomadic tribes cut out felts that they used to decorate or honor the tombs of the dead. The Chinese used the technique to decorate lanterns and windows, among other objects.

Although decoupage crafts have been around for a while, they gained immense popularity during the eighteenth century. The word was first used in France and Italy. The technique became so popular that famous folk including Marie Antoinette enjoyed and appreciated its beauty.

Decoupage comes from the French word, decouper, and means "to cut." This refers to the act of cutting paper and fabric to layer onto various objects. The craft was used to mimic some of the hand-painted lacquered items that came from Asia. In fact, many Venetian cabinet-makers wanted to recreate much of the lacquer work of the Chinese models coming into the country. They would cut out copies of popular artworks of the time.  Sadly, there were some original pieces used in this work, and many artists' work was lost as a result. Decoupage is a sign of the increasing interest in Asian art.

Decoupage became even more popular during the nineteenth century. Women who considered themselves fashionable used cutouts to dress up screens and furniture with unique designs. The craft was especially popular with England's upper and growing middle classes. During the twentieth century, people would decoupage everything from their purses to holiday ornaments to their dressers.

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Decoupage projects can range from decorating a few wine glasses to covering an entire dresser.

Why not incorporate your family photos into your decoupage paper? Decoupage is such a versatile craft since you can decoupage just about anything. 

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