First of all you need to decide what object you would like to decorate. It could be anything from a shoebox or a wooden box, a plain glass vase or plate or a simple drinking glass. I suggest you start on an empty clean jar, a shoebox or if you are feeling more adventurous try working on a glass plate or a simple drinking glass. Make sure it is not an antique!
For each project, you will need:
White (PVA) glue (or any decoupage medium you prefer)
Brushes the size depending on the surface area you will work on (pref. a 1 1/2" wide, flat brush with fine bristles for a plate)
A pair of scissors
Greeting cards, wallpaper, napkins or other pictures to cut your design from
The object you are working on
Acrylic Matt varnish
Preparing your object for decoupage:
Peal any thick labels from boxes, sand down wood and wash glass objects in warm soapy water. Dry with a soft cloth making sure it is dust and lint-free.
White or PVA glue is the good old carpenter's glue which you can thin down by mixing one part glue to two parts water (sometimes even one part to one; experiment until the mixture resembles a white medium-thick milky consistency. You can also buy ready made decoupage glue but I find I can work very well with my own mixture to which I also add some transfer varnish (from hobby shops) purposely for decoupage.
The brush you use with the glue should be soft and flat and the size according to the area you are working on. Always clean your brushes after use even if you are stopping for a 15-minute break. PVA glue should be cleaned with water.
Make sure the scissors you are using are comfortable to work with especially if you will be doing a lot of cutting. Specialist or hobby shops carry a range. When you cut make sure you're sitting comfortably in a good light. The scissors should be sharp and you should cut as close as possible to the outline of your design. When using napkins, you could use the whole peeled off napkin over the entire area and then cut (trim) off the access after the first couple of glue coats have dried.
Before you start cutting, imagine the cut-out as part of the object you are decorating. You can even mix and match designs, so long as they go together of course. I suggest you use thin paper: you could make photocopies of a favourite picture if the paper is too thick. (There is a process called thinning which, as the word itself suggests, allows you to thin the paper, but we will not go into this here).
My favourite paper is decorated napkins. Even though they might be delicate to work with, the finished product is quite unique! The tealight in the previous posting is an example as the light filters through the glass giving the candle holder a lovely translucent effect especially when the candle is lit!
It is important to know whether to apply the glue to your paper or item you are woking on or vice versa. In the case of napkin decoupage, it is better to apply the glue to the item you are working on, then gently peal off one ply (with the design) from the napkin you have chosen and carefully place it on your object...once in place, gently pat down the paper in place starting from the centre and working your way towards the edges. You can very gently keep using your fingers which I prefer or gentle strokes with a soft wide brush (see list above) to fix it in place without pulling or stretching the paper. I know it can be very fiddly sometimes and you may have to re-start if the paper tears...I have been there too but do not give up! That is why I insist that you practise on an empty jar at first or a box.
Several coats of Acrylic Matt varnish should be applied to the finished pasted product with your flat fine bristled brush (the ones used for varnishing are excellent). Make sure each coat is dry before applying the next.
Painting: There are projects wherein you will need to paint the object before or even after applying the paper cut-outs. Sometimes you might use White Matt emulsion paint or gold acrylic, etc. Just follow the instructions if you are reading from a specific project and don't be afraid to experiment.
Washing your brushes:
It is extremely important that you keep your brushes clean. Wash them as soon as you have finished part or all of your project.
Wash away PVA glue residue or acrylic varnish immediately with plenty of water.
ALWAYS dry brushes on a soft dry cloth and leave to dry completely by placing them in a container with the bristles facing up. If necessary re-shape bristles while still moist.
Take good care of your brushes and you will get many years of use from them.
WHEN WORKING WITH GLUE OR VARNISH WORK IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA
PLEASE SUPERVISE YOUNGER CRAFTERS USING SCISSORS
Keep your work area clean and tidy
Wash brushes immediately after use.
The photos in this posting are from shared files.