Reuse and Recycle with Decoupage

Reader Contribution by Sherry Leverich Tucker
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What a wonderful time of year. January and February are unlike any other. A slower pace, perfect to enjoy downtime with my children, to do some special projects around the house and catch up with chores that get put off during busy times. It is also a fun time to sit down with a cup of coffee and my pile of new seed catalogs, dreaming of springtime filled with new garden adventures. I also start sifting out my old seed catalogs and make a pile for recycling or mulching. I tend to be more of a “re-user” at heart; so this year when looking at the old catalogs I was inspired to decoupage.  The pictures on the pages behold beautiful fruits, vegetables, varied print types and clip-art in a complete spectrum of color.   

What is Decoupage? 

Decoupage is simply a collage that is made when you glue paper cutouts to a surface, then seal them to that surface.  Usually the surface is wood or another ridged material. Decoupage can even be done directly on furniture. You must start by deciding what surface to glue your paper cutouts to. For my project I made a letter “T” to use in a decorative wall arrangement. Scrap lumber pieces can be used to easily make simple letters. More complex letters with curves or difficult angles can be found at a local craft store, such as Hobby Lobby or Michaels.  Whatever surface you decide on, just make sure that it is clean and if it has a glossy surface you should rough it up with sand paper so the glue will have something to adhere to. 

As you leaf through the pages of your old garden catalogs, notice all the possibilities. Your project could be bright and full of colorful roses, zinnias or sunflowers. There are also beauties to be found in the fruit and vegetable sections. Another thought would be to complete a monochromatic design using only strawberries, or only yellow flowers. For my monogram I decided to go with black and white prints with some light yellow illustrations to create something more vintage looking.

Cut out anything that you may use and start “dry” arranging the surface with pictures. After the cutouts have been trimmed and it has been decided how to place them, you are ready to glue. I used a wood glue mixed with a little water so that it is a good consistency to paint on with a brush (Mod Podge is the traditional decoupage glue, but I have had luck using other adhesives). It is good to brush the surface with glue and then also glue the back of the paper with glue. Glue everything into place, working to glue down corners and brush out air-bubbles as much as possible. When it is dry, set it underneath a heavy book or object for a day and then re-glue any corners or edges that are not adequately adhered. After it is thoroughly dry you may brush on 2-3 coats of polyurethane, or other sealer, to protect and harden the surface.


I attached a wall-hanging bracket on the back of my monogram and hung it on the wall.  My friend, Becki in Kansas City (who is wonderful at keeping me up with trends in the design world), sent me a link to an interior designer that inspired my wall arrangement.  My arrangement was made completely of old frames and recycled lumber. 

I would love to hear if you have tried decoupage lately, or if you have another crafty idea for using old seed catalogs!

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