Sixteen years ago, after deciding that a year and a half of living together gave me “take this shit down” rights, I convinced my husband to let me take down the bazillion show flyers and posters push-pinned to the wall. Win!
And there they sat, for fourteen years, waiting to become decoupage collages.
To make your own, here are the things that you will need:
• Posters, show flyers, old stickers that don’t stick anymore, new stickers, magazine clippings (anything paper will work).
• Backboard for your collage. I used foam core but you could use uncut mat board (used in picture framing). These are available at your local craft store. Any size you want.
Note: I don’t recommend using unsealed wood or drywall since they are porous and subject to swelling and shrinkage… but any solid surface can be used
• Modge Podge decoupage glue. I recommend the matte finish.
• Foam roller or foam paint brush. (Foam will not leave streaks like bristle brushes.) Available at craft stores or big box stores that sell craft supplies.
• Plastic putty knife or other non-sharp, flat tool (that you don’t mind getting messy) for smoothing down the paper once it has the glue on it. Available at craft stores, big box stores that sell hardware or crafts, or a hardware store.
• Scissors or razor knife for trimming excess from the edges.
• Newspaper to cover surfaces.
• Paper towels to remove excess glue from tools.
• Optional Items: Rubber gloves, Modge Podge sealing spray/lacquer, DIY metal frame from the craft store sold in pairs. (Buy one set the length of the frame needed and one set the width of the frame needed. Also purchase a bag of the corner hardware to secure it. You won’t need glass or plexiglass if you coat the finished product with the Modge Podge finishing lacquer.)
These steps can be used to create elaborate collages, small collages, or even single print/posters. You can decoupage a piece of (already sealed) furniture—really anything. The applications are endless.
Step 1: Prepare your work surface. Cover with newspaper or drop cloth. Decoupage glue is still glue and it will harden to anything. It’s similar in texture to Elmer’s glue but harder to remove. Have all of your tools ready to go nearby.
Step 2: Choose your posters for the collage. Set aside the ones that you want to showcase in front. Use less important flyers and posters to fill in the background.
Step 3: Pour about 1/3 to 1/2 the container of Modge Podge into a bowl.
Step 4: Choose your first poster/flyer that you want to apply to the background. Coat the back of the poster with enough glue that it glides on but not so much that it makes the paper heavy. Tip: Use less glue for thinner papers like Xerox paper. They will tear.
Step 5: Touch a small portion of the poster to the backing surface while holding the rest of the poster up. Using your plastic putty knife, start pushing the poster down onto the backboard. Glide the knife across the paper gently so that it does not tear, working out any air pockets. Note: You are pushing the excess glue out from underneath the poster. If you leave air pockets or too much glue underneath, the paper will ripple (see below). I did this the first time. It doesn’t look terrible but the second one looks way better knowing this. If you bought enough backing, you can practice with plain paper before applying your irreplaceable posters.
Step 6: Coat the top of the poster you just applied and repeat step 5 with other posters. Fill in any spots that are left open until you are ready to apply the showcase posters to the foreground. I varied the direction of the posters, leaving some hanging off the edges (trim after they dry). This is optional. There are no rules to collage making. See below.
Step 7: Apply the showcase posters to the foreground.
Step 8: Apply old stickers to fill in small gaps using step 4 or stick on new stickers and brush over with Modge Podge.
Step 9: Let it dry. Completely. Preferably while lying flat. The collage is wet, so standing it up or leaning at an angle may cause it to bend or warp.
Step 10: Clean up. Everything washes with soap and warm water to use again (or you can trash it).
Step 11: Trim any excess paper hanging off the edges with scissors or a razor knife. In a well-ventilated area, spray the entire surface with Modge Podge sealing lacquer. Use short horizontal strokes the length of the collage, stopping the spray at the end of each pass to check the nozzle for drips. Wipe off any drips with a paper towel and continue. Let it dry. Completely. A second coat is optional. If you decoupage a piece of furniture, I would seal with actual furniture lacquer using the same spray method. Pro Tip: Buff furniture lacquer in between coats and the finished coat with fine steel wool for a smooth surface.
Step 12: You’re done! Frame and hang or prop up on a shelf.
You can also apply this technique to… suitcases! Here’s a tutorial complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions by our friends over at jenreviews.com. You can find it here.