Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Things To Do With Your Child #4: Decoupage

Wait a minute, this is all sounding rather technical and professional.  Never fear my friends, decoupage is just a grown up word for sticking stuff on things and getting glue all over the shop.


You will need:
Something to stick stuff on.  We used a big 3D cardboard letter R from Hobbycraft, but anything made from card or wood will do.  You may need to remind your toddler that cats do not like having stuff stuck on them, tempting though it may be.  If your child is really insistent about decoupaging a pet, I suggest a tortoise as their shell is probably quite compatible with this medium and also they can't move very fast.  

Stuff to stick on the thing to stick stuff on.  Paper works best.  Rip up lots of different coloured bits and pieces.  you can use wrapping paper, envelopes, magazines, newspapers etc.  I find the Boden catalogue to be highly useful here due to all the brightly coloured clothes and the fact that I can't afford anything from it anyway.  We used mainly fabric scraps because I make lots of clothes etc and leftover fabric is starting to take over our house.

PVA glue.  We used Mod Podge because I happened to have some hanging around, but ordinary PVA should be fine.

A paint brush

Risk assessment:
There is serious potential for a child to decoupage a priceless antique or their own face.  Please bear this in mind.

Amount of time it wastes in the never ending day:
Amount of time spent decoupaging the letter R: Approx 20-30 minutes.
Amount of time spent following me around looking contrite while I chiselled Mod Podged bits of fabric off the legs of dining table: Approx 15 minutes.
Amount of time spent picking glue off fingers whilst staring slack-jawed at The Tweenies: Eons.

Spread your glue all over the surface of the cardboard letter/box/decoration/tortoise that you plan to decoupage.

Un-stick child from cardboard letter/box/decoration/tortoise where they are bound to have flung themselves in joy at the sight of so much glue.

Allow them to stick the bits of paper/fabric all over it at random.  Remember here that things made by children tend to look quite rubbish.  This is OK though.  Abandon your inner perfectionist here and resist the temptation to take over and stick everything on so it looks nice.  Just let them do it how they want to do it.  You are not Mister Maker.

Apologies for the darkness of the photo and Rory's PJs.  We did this activity at you-must-be-f*****g-well-joking o'clock in the morning.

When they've finished, cut any overlapping edges off and put a layer of glue over the whole lot.

Leave to dry.


I was quite surprised at how little I needed to intervene with this activity.  Rory got really into it and held intense discussions with me about what colours and pictures he was going to put where and I just let him get on with it.  I think it's really nice for very small children to be able to make something almost entirely on their own.  Alas, he also took it upon himself to be creative upon the wall and the table all on his own, but we'll gloss over that bit.  He enjoyed this so much that I think I might buy all the other letters of his name and we'll do one every time we get bored.  In retrospect, it's a shame I didn't give him a nice long name like Englebert.


  1. Lol engleburt! That looks really good lise! Well done you and Rory! I still think you are so brave. I must do something like this with Ethan. I need to stock up craft bits!

  2. Recently discovered your blog and I have to say it reads like you climbed into my head and transcribed my thoughts on to the screen. I can relate to so much of what you write. And you make me laugh. Which is never a bad thing.

    Look forward to reading more.

    Loveaudrey xXx

  3. Love the risk assessments! Why yes, I am posting at 5am.... Maybe I should be commenting on your sleep deprivation post instead!

  4. That's brilliant - I'm gonna have to go buy a cardboard G for my little fella & pretend like he can do decoupage at 16 months, then do it all myself :P x

  5. I remember that phase Celia. I reckon if he sticks one bit on by himself then it counts and you can proudly show off about your child's artistic genius to your friends.