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Wood plank and wood plate covered in floral Decoupage Rice Paper

What is Decoupage Paper and How to apply it to Home Decor

What is Decoupage Paper and How to apply it to Home Decor

Decoupage Paper can enhance your Home Décor 

The art of Decoupage is exciting because you can use so many different mediums to create your final project or craft. Many of our customers at Decoupage Napkins.com are very familiar with decoupaging with Decorative Paper Napkins. However, they're not experienced in decoupaging with Rice Paper. You can apply Decoupage paper to a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, pottery, ceramic, glass and more.

What is Decoupage?

Decoupage is the art of applying paper cut outs and affixing them on different surfaces. When I was young my mother liked to decoupage using newspaper, photographs, wrapping paper and other paper scraps. She would make decorations for the house, birthday presents and Christmas decor for the holidays.

The crafting world has completely modernized this art form, stepping it up into the age of DIY - Do It Yourself Home Decor. We've entered this new age with the help of talented printers armed with the latest in modern printing equipment, inks, technologies and new paper materials. Their paper products are breathtaking. Today, crafters enjoy using decorative paper napkins or printed decoupage paper, embellishing their work with floral elements, die cuts, foils, stamps and stencils. 

Decoupage Rice Paper of floral patterns with roses from ITD Collection

A Decoupage Rice Paper from ITD Collection

 What is Decoupage Paper?

Rice Paper for Decoupage may be commonly referred to with a broader term: Decoupage Paper. This phrase is used to avoid the confusion with edible forms of rice paper. Unlike what the name says, Decoupage Rice Paper is not made from rice. It is made from plant or mulberry tree fibers. It is used in various art forms such as Decoupage crafts, Mixed Media Art, Scrapbooking, Card Making, Art Journaling, and DIY Furniture Upcycling.  

Advantages of using Decoupage Rice Paper

Decoupage Paper is a great paper to start with if you're a decoupage beginner. It is strong yet has a super thin, almost fabric-like feel. Since Decoupage Paper is single layered, you do not need to peel apart the layers like you would with a multi-ply napkin. The paper's strength makes it a bit more forgiving, allowing you to place it on a mod podge prepared surface and gently reposition it without too much worry about ripping the pattern. When moistened with glue, it is less prone to wrinkles than a thinner tissue paper would be. Decoupage paper is also translucent which helps the images to stand out on the surface. The paper is embedded with microfibers that lend a nice textural appearance. The edges are thin and blend very nicely into the background.

Decoupage Rice Paper - Which Size is Best?

Decoupage Paper comes in various sizes. This is helpful when you need a pattern to fit the specific dimension of your project. You can get extremely large A0, A1 or A2 sizes. However, most people use the standard A3, A4 and A5 sizes available at Decoupage Napkins.com. The lower the number with the "A" the bigger the sheet. For example, an A3 Decoupage Paper is roughly 12”x17”.  A4 is approximately 9”x12” and A5 is roughly 6”x9”. 

Decoupage Paper on wood box set with floral design from ITD Collection

Decoupage Paper on Wood Coaster and Box Set

So, if you are covering a large piece such as a table or dresser, the A3 size will give you the most coverage. The A4 and A5 size papers would work nicely as a focal element or a background. For smaller objects and artistic touches, you can cut or tear away your design, using just a portion of the rice paper. Decoupage Napkins.com carries many of its patterns in different sizes to help with the best fit for your project.

You can also use Decoupage Paper in conjunction with decorative napkins on a single project. For example you may want to put a flower from a Rice paper and a Bee from a Napkin. Many artists add clay molding, stencils, and foil to decorate their projects. The combinations are limitless.

Peach Flower made from Clay Mold for 3D Effect

Surely, the hardest part in decoupaging with Rice Paper is selecting the prettiest paper from the thousands of Decoupage Rice Paper patterns available on our website. So many choices!

How to Decoupage with Decoupage Paper (Rice Paper)

Let’s start at the very beginning for those of you who are new to Decoupage.  There are 8 basic steps you can follow to ensure that your first decoupage craft project turns out nicely. But before you start, you'll need to choose a project surface. You may want to start with something small like a coaster, a plaque, or a tray. To get ideas, please stop by our crafting materials collection. Once you gain some experience you can move on to larger projects like decoupaging furniture for upcycling. The world becomes your pallet!  But let’s start small. Here are the 8 steps:

 1) Prepare your surface

Prepare surface for Decoupage Paper with Gesso

Cover wood with Gesso or Paint before applying Decoupage Paper

Once you select your project, be it a MDF Coaster, birch wood serving tray or wood plaque, make sure your surface is clean and dry and free of any dust particles. Next, apply a base coat such as chalk paint, acrylic paint or Gesso. Let the paint dry completely. Using a bright and light base color such as white Gesso will help the decoupage paper images to stand out better. If you use a grey, beige or dark color, your decoupaged pattern may appear drab and dull due to color bleed-through. Therefore, we recommend using white as your base coat in the areas where you'll be applying the paper. You can paint all around it with color later to give it character.

 2) Prepare your images

Cut Decoupage Paper to prepare image

Cut or tear images from the Decoupage Paper

This is the most artistic part of the project. Once you select the images you want to use, cut, or tear them away from the decorative paper. Tearing them away will give your applied pattern a softer look and help the edges to better blend into the background. It may be helpful to use a water brush or a small dampened paint brush to encircle the area you want to tear away. You can also simply cut the image out with scissors if the edge is going to be sanded, covered with molding or painted.

3) Pre-Place the pattern

Preplace the Decoupage Paper image before applying mod podge

Positioning the pattern before adding Mod Podge

Pre-Place your pattern on the project surface. It really helps to visualize the final look if you pre-position the cutting on the surface before you begin application with Mod Podge or decoupage glue. Rice paper is strong and if you mis-position it on the mod podge you can typically peel it off and move it, if done right away. However there is still some risk of tearing. So you are better off planning ahead, before you add the glue.

4)  Add Mod Podge and affix your pattern

Applying base coat of Mod Podge for Decoupage Paper

Apply a base coat of Mod Podge to affix the image

Once you've pre-positioned your pattern pieces, take them off and spread on a thin layer of Mod Podge or decoupage glue. Use a one to two inch brush or sponge to apply the glue layer. You'll achieve the best results if you use a very thin layer of glue. You don't need much at all to make the pattern stick. Next, reaffix the decoupage paper and gently smooth with a brush or sponge. This is the time to make any adjustments. If it is not in the right place, reposition it right away. Remember if are using any Napkin elements they can rip extremely easily. Make sure you put napkins in the right place the first time. 

 5) Spread out the bubbles

Rubbing out bubble from under Decoupage Paper and Gesso

 Smoothing away bubbles and wrinkles from Decoupage Paper

For a professional appearance, try to get all the bubbles out from under your images. Some artists like to use a clear plastic wrap technique by placing the wrap over the image, then using their fingers to gently rub away any bubbles or wrinkles. Others like to dab with a stippler sponge or stroke with a paint brush.

6) Cover with more Mod Podge

After placing all the pieces of your images on the surface and smoothing wrinkles away, let it dry for just a few minutes. Then lightly brush a second layer of mod podge over the entire surface to set everything in place. Let your project dry for at least 30 more minutes before applying any additional (optional) glue layers. You can gently sand away any edges that are sticking off the edge of your project. 

7) Add Elements

Now comes the artistic fun. After everything is dry, you can add other elements to your project. You can add clay moldings, paint, stamps, stencils, foil highlights, floral elements, rub on decals, stickers, etc. The choices are limitless. Just keep in mind the style and ultimate vision for your project when adding embellishments. 

8) Seal and Varnish

After everything is dry, you can finish the project with one or more layers of varnish to give it a nice finish. There are different types of varnishes such as matte or gloss. Just make sure that you are using one that is appropriate for the project. 

Decoupage Rice Paper is one of the easier paper mediums to work with and you'll have fun with it. Here are some examples of finished decoupage projects to help inspire you to create art!



If you need even more inspiration check out our Decoupage Art Inspiration page.

*Photo credit to ITD Collection

Now go forth and make art!