The practice of découpage can give a homespun sheen to all sorts of objects, from gift boxes to Valentine's Day cards. But although it reached its heyday in 18th century England, découpage can still be practised today with materials that can be found easily throughout the home. And with little more that a metal cookie tin and some craftiness, the result can be quite charming.
Cut out the pictures you hope to use in your découpage from magazines, photos or other sources. Wipe down your cookie tin with a damp rag, to clear it of any and all dust. If you want to paint or seal your tin prior to découpage, do so now. Let it dry completely before continuing on.
Arrange your pictures over the tin, in any design that you desire, until you are satisfied. Take your time to play around with different arrangements, because your final result will be impossible to change once the découpage process is complete.
Coat the back of each picture completely with white glue. At the same time, apply a thin layer of glue onto the part of the tin where you will be sticking the picture. After the pictures and the cookie tin have been properly prepared, stick the picture into the desired location.
Work your fingers over the picture, to form a good bond between the picture and the tin. Smooth out the picture as much as possible, from the centre on out, in order to push out any wrinkles and excess glue. Take the edge of a Popsicle stick and work your way along the picture in order to work out more persistent deformities.
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for each picture, until everything is in its proper place. Clean off any excess glue and then put aside the cookie tin in a well-ventilated area, to let the glue dry. In the meantime, mix together a large batch of diluted white glue (three parts glue for every one part water). You'll need enough of this mixture to apply several coats.
Coat the dried tin and pictures completely with the diluted glue, and let dry. This diluted mixture is your découpage medium, which will set your pictures into place as if they were built into the tin. Alternatively, you can also use other sealers, like polyurethane or acrylic spray.
Continue to add coats of glue or sealer. Traditional découpage required as many thirty or forty coats, although five to twenty coats should be sufficient for most modern projects. You can stop whenever you are satisfied, although it is usually best to continue applying layers of sealer until the edges of the pictures are smooth to the touch.
You can also spice up your découpage project with all sorts of other materials: gold leaf, lace and more.