Decoupage or napkin technology – from the beginnings to life
In this article, I will lead all about decoupage technique. Perhaps you are already familiar with it or have heard that decoupage is a technique for decorating with paper cuttings: plates, boxes, frames, vases, lamps, furniture and other things. But I hope to surprise more than one person with my story.
Let’s start with the very concept: decoupage – comes from the French verb decouper – cut. And this is a kind of collage. This is not a new direction in art – it is a technique that has gained enough popularity at the present time, originates from the 12th century. It began from the Chinese peasants, who created colorful paper to decorate things and passed on to nomads from Eastern Siberia – they began to use Chinese colored paper also to decorate the walls of their graves.
You have a question – the parents are Chinese, and the word is French? In fact, this technique became known only in the 20th century. And in China, this art was called by the name of the paper cutouts, of course, it sounded a bit different in Chinese, but let’s not talk about it.
Then this technique “got” to the Germans and the Poles, who used paper clippings to design furniture. But the 12th century did not become the starting point of this type of art, neither 13 nor 16. The 17th century of Far Eastern art is considered to be the parent, when mainly the art of lacquer painting was used for furniture decoration. Oriental household items and household items decorated European houses and the fashion for them increased and turned into a “lacquer” boom. Sellers were not able to satisfy a large number of orders for Europeans on lacquered furniture from the Far East. What remained of the Venetian cabinetmakers, whose products had hitherto been in great demand, remained to begin producing fakes. This technique was given the name lacca contrafatta (lacca – lacquer, contrafatta-fake). Masters began to hire students and to impose on them the duty to draw on paper copies of paintings and prints of famous artists. Further, these drawings were glued to the furniture, as well as musical instruments and covered with several layers of varnish. These things were very similar to the popular ones brought by merchants from China and Japan and did not yield to them in anything.
The fashionable and wealthy houses of Europe began to invite famous painters to paint furniture, walls and ceilings. Prices have become incredibly high on fashionable things and turned into pieces of art. And as an alternative, l’arte del povero (the art of poor people) develops. It consisted in the purchase of drawings of artists of “one day”, pictures were cut out of them, pasted and varnished.
Then women contributed to this art. In the 18th and 19th centuries, aristocrats cut out details from real painting canvases and decorated them with jewelry boxes, blanks for wigs, screens, and toiletries. This occupation of women has become a crazed hobby, which has been given many hours.
In turn, England also did not pass this hobby. There it had the name Japanning – hand-painted paper and the art of cutting. In the 19th century, the passion for decoupage gradually passes, and gives way to a collage that becomes the favorite of this era.
In the next 20th century, paper cutouts were cut and reassembled and then glued to a painted or gilded surface.
Do you know how many layers of varnish used in the 20th century in the traditional method? 30-40 layers of lacquer, which are polished to a beautiful smooth finish. The masters of their work also come up with the idea of putting all this under glass, or even raising it to create a three-dimensional image. In addition, there are two schools of craftsmen, who are divided according to the preference of the type of paper pictures. Some masters of decoupage cut out motifs from full-color napkins, while others prefer black and white images of motifs, which, after sticking to the surface, are painted with colored inks.
The modern decoupage of the 21st century is the cutting and sticking of printed images on different surfaces with the subsequent application of a protective lacquer layer on them. Decoupage napkins became more prevalent, which is why it is now called “Tissue Technology”.