Hat boxes carry an air of vintage glamour. The traditional craft of découpage -- pasting pictures onto a surface to create a painted effect -- is ideally matched to these old-fashioned containers. Any box can be covered in layers of paper mache to make it more durable. Simply start with a plain cardboard box, rip up old newspaper, dip it in craft glue and smooth over the original box with your fingers. When you've added three or four layers, leave to dry overnight, and paint with a base colour before adding your découpage images.
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The Victorians were queens of hats and of travel. Seek inspiration for your découpage project from Victorian-style scrap books. These "scraps" or paper cut-outs were collected by girls and young women. Many featured dolls with paper dresses as well as chintzy floral patterns. Print them from online sites or look for modern-day recreations which are available from specialist toy stores. Paste them onto your hatbox with clear craft glue.
Photographs work well in creating modern découpage projects. If you have a collection of hats, gather photos of yourself wearing your favourites. Alternatively, collect pictures of models in hats from fashion magazines. Be careful to leave no obvious borders when you are cutting out your images as this will spoil the "painted effect" when you paste them onto your hat box.
Create the impression that your hat box has been on many long and interesting journeys by decorating it with découpage luggage labels and vintage-style postcards. Take inspiration from the Grand Tour of Europe, popular with the upper classes in the 18th and 19th centuries, with images and labels from Paris, Geneva, Milan, Rome and Athens. Reproductions of labels and postcards from that time are available from online retailers. Some original postcards can be found in antique shops.
Flowers are a traditional theme for découpage decorating. Collect images from gardening magazines and carefully cut out pictures of your favourite flowers, being careful to leave no obvious border. While some découpage decorators leave visible background behind the images they paste on, flowers work well when overlapped slightly. Cover the entire hat box with flowers, until there is no visible background at all. Stick to flowers from a particular season, or in just two or three different colours to prevent the finished design looking too complicated and messy.
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