9. Découpage by a Complete Beginner

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

This episode is subtitled: ‘Blue to the Rescue…’

Ever wanted to try découpage? I’ve been keen to try it for ages but firstly I couldn’t think of anything I actually wanted to découpage and secondly I was slightly worried that once I’d started, I’d get the bug and start gluing paper to everything in sight.

I got my opportunity when we had our first ‘Companions’ session in Teacups. Remember a couple of weeks ago I floated the idea with Kim that we set aside a table or two at a particular time each week that was reserved for people on their own who wanted a bit of company? The first session was yesterday so about a week in advance I bought some cardboard letter Cs from Hobbycraft and had a go at pasting some (salvaged) birthday wrapping paper to them. Each letter C designated a table reserved for ‘Companions’. I’ve now découpaged seven items, but more about that starting at the paw print below.

We’d had time to let a few people know, particularly any widows and widowers that came into the flower shop, and Kim put a notice up in Teacups’ window, but I started to panic on Tuesday when the only ‘definite’ we were aware of was Mr Saunders. What if he’s on his own? That would be worse than him popping in to see us in Tulips for a bit of company!

‘What about your Nan?’ I asked Jaz.

‘She has her hair done on a Wednesday afternoon,’ she replied.

‘Your Dad, Gillian?’

‘Sorry, Wednesday is bowling day’, she said.

‘Even in the first week in March?’ I snapped back, flustered by the thought that this could all be a complete flop.

‘They play Scrabble in the club house when the bowling isn’t on’, she said, slightly defensively.

Where have all the lonely people gone?! OK, time for emergency measures. I asked Lily, my neighbour. She’s not great on her feet but agreed to come after I promised to ferry her door to door, and my final candidate (you won’t believe this….) was Blue! That’s how desperate I was. I set his basket up next to the table and hoped to goodness that if nothing else they’d enjoy stroking the dog.

We were really busy in Tulips yesterday because our first big delivery of flowers for Mothers’ Day had arrived that morning and the phone orders were coming through thick and fast. Mothers’ Day is our busiest day of the year so I had to cross my fingers and leave our companions to it.salvagebox.co.uk - Blue

Kim popped in about 4pm to tell me that it had been a success. One other lady had turned up who no-one had seen before and although she seemed to do most of the talking, they all looked quite happy and Kim thinks they’ll be back next week. Blue, as adorable as ever, spent a contented afternoon in Teacups, on hand in case he was needed. What a star.

Blue's signature Here’s how I created the letters.

I’m a complete découpage beginner so I did a bit of research online and discovered that there are various methods – glue under the paper, glue over the paper, cover the object with one piece of paper, cover it with bits of paper, just add a paper motif and leave the rest as is….. I knew I wanted to completely cover mine and would be happy if it was pieced in a fairly random fashion. This was good because I suspect it’s the most forgiving method.

I bought my cardboard letters from Hobbycraft and fished out some used birthday paper from my wrapping drawer (I don’t throw anything useful away).

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

I used matt Mod Podge for gluing the paper on and switched to gloss for the outer coats (not sure why I did this because it’s the same price whatever the finish so gloss throughout would have been fine).

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

You also need a brush, scissors and a damp cloth. The cloth is very important because the process is so messy that you’ll want to keep wiping your hands. Can you imagine the state my camera was in by the time I’d photographed every stage of this sticky activity? Thankfully the Mod Podge did wipe off it quite easily.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

I roughly cut the paper to cover both sides of the letter, with excess to fold up the sides.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

Then I added plenty of glue (Mod Podge) to the cardboard.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

After sticking one of the large pieces on I cut some of the middle away and snipped the edges so I could fold them over the sides of the letter and stick them down, again using a lot of glue. Make sure everything is stuck down firmly and smooth out any wrinkles as you go.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

So it looked like this.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

Then I did the same on the other side.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

There were a few gaps on the inside and outside edges so I filled them in with small pieces of the same paper, and then I went through the same process with the other letter. I like them because they match but they aren’t identical.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

They then had several coats of gloss Mod Podge to make them robust and give a lovely shine. I did four coats.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

Apparently, sanding them lightly with very fine sandpaper between coats (and wiping away all traces of dust) would have given them a smoother finish but I’m really happy with them and they do the job perfectly.

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter

Armed with my new skill I decided to cover the characters T, &, T with fabric for Teacups & Tulips! It was exactly the same principle, although I think I’d have preferred a matt finish on the fabric. Pretty cool, though!

salvagebox.co.uk - découpage letter


  • Make sure you have a damp cloth handy.
  • Don’t skimp on the glue (Mod Podge).
  • The more coats of varnish (Mod Podge) you add, the happier I think you’ll be with the end result.
  • If you are going to create any items commercially be aware that you may be in breach of copyright when using other people’s designs e.g. wrapping paper designs.

Salvaged Items:

  • Old wrapping paper (or magazine pages)

I did say that I’d découpaged seven items. Well, you can see the final two here. I used magazine pages to cover these and although the technique worked well enough, I wasn’t very happy because they didn’t blend well on the tea room tables so that’s when I had a go with the wrapping paper.

Have I got the bug? I’m happy that we’ve got our letter Cs but the whole process is a bit too messy for me to get carried away with (unlike last week’s needle felted pincushions that I could make all day!). So, I’m not sure when I’ll be using this new knowledge again, but doubtless I will.

I hope you all have a lovely week and for those of you out and about on Saturday night, please raise a glass to all the florists up and down the land who will get about three hours sleep (if we’re lucky) as we prepare for the busiest day of the year.

See you next Thursday.

Jenny signature




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2 thoughts on “9. Découpage by a Complete Beginner

  1. I always thought an old table découpaged with old map pages or, for car lovers, an old Haynes Manual, with a piece of glass on top would make for an interesting coffee table/bedside table! Might have to give it a go now!

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