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What are the Different Types of Decoupage Paper?

By N. Phipps
Updated May 16, 2024
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Decoupage is a traditional paper art form that involves decorating objects or surfaces with cut-out pictures from various paper types. These are usually glued onto the object or surface and then layered with varnish. Choosing the type of decoupage paper is somewhat important, especially with beginners. If the paper is too thin, such as with tissue paper, it can tear easily. Therefore, using something a bit thicker is preferable, although not required.

There are numerous types of paper to choose from. Nearly any paper can be used for decoupage projects. Anything from old postcards, seed packets, and greeting cards to napkins, wallpaper, and pages from old books are suitable for use. Other items that can be used as decoupage paper include calendars, magazine pictures, wrappers, paper bags, and wrapping paper. Even old photographs can be transformed into decoupage art.

When using photographs as decoupage paper, it’s generally better to scan the original into the computer and then print out the image. This also works well when creating pictures of various sizes. It’s probably a good idea to stay away from two-sided images as well. These tend to show through once glue is applied. Therefore, they should be scanned and then printed before use too.

Individual motifs that are specifically designed for use with decoupage projects can also be purchased. Furthermore, decoupage kits are available from arts and crafts stores. These often include an assortment of pre-cut decoupage paper and various designs. Some may also include the glue and varnish.

Depending on the choice of paper, finishing waxes and special varnishes can be used to achieve different effects. Three-dimensional effects can be created as well. Alongside decoupage paper, crafters can use various objects for their decoupage projects. These may include fabric, dried leaves and flowers, beads, buttons, and other various items.

In addition to the types of decoupage paper, varnish, and effect, almost any material can be used for decoupage projects. Nearly anything from wood, metal, and ceramics to albums, furniture, and cardboard can be covered with interesting paper. Some people have even transformed mirrors, picture frames, trays and plates into beautiful decoupage artwork.

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Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Aug 12, 2011

@pastanaga - Magazines are the cheapest way of getting decoupage papers. I find old comic books are also really good. If you go to a convention, sometimes they'll be giving away boxes of comics that didn't sell.

You can also find them at charity stores and secondhand shops, as well as old picture books and so forth.

I also find it's worth having a look at craft stores, particularly those which specialize in scrapbooking. There are some amazing papers and background images to be found and often they will be quite cheap.

Craft stores sometimes sell blank wood boxes and things you can paste your decoupage papers onto as well.

By pastanaga — On Aug 12, 2011

Decoupage is so much fun, and you can practice using pictures from magazines and newspapers. Although newspaper tends to tear quite easily, so you have to be careful with it.

We used to do a kind of decoupage for lessons in my art school. We would each try to make a really bizarre mural using magazines, and then swap and try to draw a picture of whatever the other person had put together.

It was really difficult, but fun. It's amazing how many beautiful photos are in magazines, that you might not otherwise notice.

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