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Lovin’ le ’page

June 21, 2010

Superbly superficial

I recently collaborated with my friend Jeannine on a project for an upcoming book. This book will be her second, and like her first, will feature her superb handmade bookbinding projects. For my part of this project, she asked me to produce the front and back boards of a book using a decoupage technique. I was pretty excited, as decoupage is one my favorite decorative arts, and I hadn’t done anything using this technique in ages. Decoupage (from the French, meaning ‘to cut’) involves taking paper cutouts and gluing them to objects, then sealing the entire surface when completed. Often thought of as a “poor man’s” art because of the humble materials employed to produce it, it can be used in creating some gorgeous, if unusual, pieces. Doing the book project reminded me that I’d collected several decoupage pieces over the years and I had to see them again … my faves are above, and I still enjoy them now as much as when I first bought them. They are: a large brass urn that’s been meticulously shingled with amazingly colorful postage stamps, a shallow glass bowl that’s been reverse-decoupaged with an array of embossed-paper cigar bands, and a tall bottle completely festooned with heavily lashed eyes cut out of fashion magazines in the 60s. What drew me to these pieces was the feeling of obsession coming off them; that someone had the uncontrollable need to glue hundreds of pieces of paper onto something, transforming an object that was just okay into something much better!

Meticulously obsessive

Sealing decoupage pieces protects them, and depending on the number of coats used, can give them an air of seamless preciousness. I particularly enjoy how these sealers can discolor over time, making the entire piece more unified color-wise. Here, the urn has taken on a golden haze after many years, and the bottle’s batting eyes now all seem greenish with envy. In contrast, the bowl’s cigar band embellishments are remarkably fresh-looking after several decades, the result of being pressed against glass. Decoupage has had a revival in recent years and one of its main proponents, John Derian, has elevated the humble technique into the realm of high design. His pieces use classic designs and images and I think they’re really fun (and pricey, in some cases). I much prefer pieces by (imagined) lonely folk artists, shut-ins, teens-on-detention, and obsessed unknowns with time on their hands and a need to stick it to some less-than jazzy object. Seeing these objects at flea markets or antique stores, it’s hard for me to pass them up …

I enjoyed doing the book boards for Jeannine so much I’m doing two more, just for the fun of it … and, needless to say, once the book is finished and released I’ll share it with you here.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Megan permalink
    June 21, 2010 11:28 pm

    Nice! Makes me want to go out and buy a tub of Modge Podge right now.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 21, 2010 11:30 pm

      The Podge that is Mod is awesome… in fact your header has a digital decoupage vibe that I find most attractive!!

  2. June 24, 2010 9:59 pm

    Gorgeous stuff!
    I love Inky!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 26, 2010 9:53 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Yolie, your blog’s awesome, too!

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