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Découpage at the Victoria and Albert Museum By Roy Larking

25 June 2008
Découpage at the Victoria and Albert Museum
By Roy Larking
Published in The Dialogue, Issue 3, 2008
decoupaged box under varnish

Découpage has provided me with many memorable moments in a number of different countries, and in August last year, I was very fortunate to add another.

In July, via our Guild website, I was invited to give a “Two Day Beginners’ Course” at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

This was particularly special for me because I had first visited the Museum as a schoolboy, and despite all the other wonderful museums in London the V & A has remained a favorite over the years, especially for the fantastic range of decorative arts on display which appealed to me then and still does to this day.

Having been given plenty of notice, my aim was to provide the students with an attractive object they could keep which would be a challenge but in keeping with a “beginners” course and achievable in two days.

I arranged a meeting at the museum with the Adult Courses Manager to discuss various points and was shown the studio facilities. These were ideal, with lots of light and space for the proposed 16 students.

I decided upon a small wooden chest. The wrapping paper design I chose was appropriately one I had bought at the V & A during one for my previous visits.

My objective was to illustrate the variety of designs that could be created using just the one wrap paper.

decoupaged box under varnish

On planning the program for the two days, I soon realized that they would be insufficient (paint-drying) time for the students fully to prepare the boxes during the course, and I therefore decided to prime, paint, and apply one coat of varnish to the boxes prior to the course. I also produced a completed and lined box to show the sort of finish that can be achieved.

I had color copied a sufficient number of the part of the wrap paper design to be used for each student. I also provided black and white photocopies on which students could practice cutting.

This proved successful and by the end of the first day, following instruction, each student had cut out their design, glued it on to the box so that it was ready for them to varnish the following morning.

I was very impressed by the standard achieved by complete beginners and my concerns about the difficulty of cutting our certain parts of the design proved groundless.

Whilst not all the students completed all the sides of their work pieces, nevertheless at the end of the course thy all left proudly sporting their boxes.

By beginning and borrowing treasures from friends, I was able to show and discuss the wide variety of types of découpage as well as having available a number of useful books on the subject.

A very interesting and enjoyable experience for me, and I hope for the 16 new découpeurs, too.

decoupaged box under varnish

You may read detailed instructions on how to decoupage a box here: Read More