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Découpage New Life into Old Containers | Green Projects

By Martie Hevia | Blue Beach Song™

Kelbi’s Treasure Chest

One of my most popular blog posts, Why Bother Going Green? (Recycle-Reduce-Reuse: Stats, Info & Benefits), offers convincing information and compelling reasons as to why we should recycle, reduce and reuse … but I’ll give you one more: free materials for art projects.

There is a great deal of packaging, bulk mail, wrapping paper, and old magazines that most people routinely throw out or recycle that contain beautiful photographs, graphics, or lettering. Such a shame to throw it out or even to recycle it, when those materials could give new life to old containers through the art of découpage.

What is découpage?

Tealight Candles Container

Découpage gets its origin from the French word découper, to cut out. The art or craft of découpage gets its beginnings in 12th century China, but its popularity took off in 18th century France, Italy and England. In the 1940s through the 1960s, the craft of layering and attaching colorful cutouts to just about any object with laquer, varnish, or white glue became quite popular in the United States and it still has its fans today. In the 1960s, Jan Wetstone invented a glue-like substance that did not require the sanding after each layer of varnish. She called this new, modern, decoupage mixture, Mod Podge.

The process is quite simple, really. You glue cut-outs onto an object and then you ‘paint’ the cutouts and the object with that glue, letting it dry in between coats. The finished colorful and personalized laquer-like surface can offer new life and beauty to old containers and objects that you may have been thinking of donating, recycling, or throwing out.

Craft Supplies Container

Christmas cookie or candy tins, old lampshades, tables, chairs, frames, jars, pots, bird houses … you can découpage just about anything, in fact, the lady who invented Mod Podge découpaged her Volkswagon Beetle. (But ask before you découpage your parents’ or spouse’s car!)

Personally, I hate to throw out perfectly good containers. They are great for organizing things in the cabinets or the pantry, the workshop or the potting shed. The only thing I don’t like is the container’s old labeling that has nothing to do with its new purpose. Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at découpage. I didn’t know if it would be easy or hard, but I knew that if it didn’t turn out I could always recycle the container. I am happy to report that it was easy and I was quite pleased with the results.

As you can see in the photos of my first projects gracing this post, I used a Christmas cookie tin to make a “cards & notes” keepsake; an Almond Rocca tin to keep decoupage crafting supplies; a dollar store small wood treasure chest for my daughter, Kelbi; a biscotti clear plastic container to hold tealight candles; and a clear plastic cashews jar from Costco for garden seeds. The materials to glue on these surfaces came from used wrapping paper, cut-outs from magazines, letters from packaging and bulkmail flyers, some hand-drawn cut-outs, computer printouts, and scrapbook punch-outs. All free.

Cards & Notes Tin

In the future, I am thinking about using maps, postcards, photographs, ticket stubs, greeting cards, handwritten letters, pages from children’s books, newspaper headlines, travel brochures, stamps, baseball cards, fabrics, clothing labels, ribbons, pressed flowers, leaves … and the list is endless.

Now, I’m not going to say that it is addicting, but I have gone through the garage and pulled out old lampshades, a desktop globe, small wood tables, chairs, wood bed trays, a wood armoire, plastic coffee containers, photo frames, birdhouses, and various boxes that were slated for donation, recycling, or the garbage and they will be future découpage projects. (But I will do my best to resist the temptation to découpage my Miata. God help me!)

If you are looking for a little inspiration, then I suggest you check out the découpage images on Google. People are découpaging jewelry, wine bottles, pumpkins, suitcases, plates, wood hangers, dressers, desks, chairs, ornaments, walls, plain cardboard gift boxes, waste baskets, books, kitchen cabinets, sneakers, boots, purses, hats, rotary telephones, fruit, vases, hat boxes, shoe boxes, serving trays, eggs, eyeglass cases, place-mats, lunch boxes, wood planks, cups, tin cans, bicycles, buckets, watering cans, and paper maché objects, to name a few.

Give it a try and you’ll never look at the donation, recycling, and garbage piles in the same way again!

Martie Hevia (c) 2013 | All Rights Reserved

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