Origins of the craft, Decoupage

Decoupage, french for "cutting out", is the art of cutting and pasting cut-out pictures to simulate painting. There are many variations in technique but the four basic steps of decoupage generally are: Cutting out the pictures, Arranging them to depict a scene or tell a story, Pasting them on a surface and Applying several coats of varnish or lacquer.

Decoupage originated in France in the 17th century as a means of decorating bookcases, cabinets, and other pieces of furniture. It spread throughout Europe and in the 18th century became a fashionable pastime, especially at the Italian, French and English courts. Pictures printed expressly for the purpose of decoupage where applied to fans, screens and toilet articles. In the 19th century decoupage was used to construct "peep shows", miniature vistas viewed through small openings.

In the 1920s Art Deco designers started to experiment with decoupage. Designer Jean-Michel Frank used decoupage on his Parsons tables of the early 20s. Decoupage was again revived in the United Stated in the 1960s. From the 17th to the 21s century decoupage has consistently found a place in contemporary design.

Today it is still popular, being used in the decoration of boxes, trays, wastebasket, lampshades, chests, screens and egg art.

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