Thursday, July 4, 2013

Decoupaging Boxes

Decoupage is the art of adhering pieces of paper to another object with a decoupage medium, like Mod Podge. It is, in my opinion, one of the simplest ways to transform an ordinary object into something truly unique - and it is so simple. A 3 year old could do it.

In fact, a a 3 year old has done it.

I've been letting my kids explore this technique lately (you can read about our first project using Mod Podge here) because it is simple and also because they love it. Nothing like a win-win! (grins)

On Monday I announced that we were taking a trip to Hobby Lobby. My original plan was to get some sort of sewing kit that would introduce very young children to sewing, but while I was looking at the options, I decided that it would be a mistake. Natalie is just too young still for that kind of project. We have lacing cards at the house...I decided that the best thing for her right now, as far as sewing, would be to practice with those cards.

But we were already in the store, and the kids were pumped. I mean, they were shouting and exclaiming and waving their arms wildly about. It really made me want to bring them to Hobby Lobby more often. I ended up walking out of the store $5 poorer, but with two very excited little kiddos. It really doesn't take much to make them happy.

The thing they were so excited about were these cardboard boxes. They both reeeaaally wanted to get a box. So that's what we ended up taking home with us. I also walked us over to the paper aisle and let them each choose a piece of decorative paper. Daniel had his in five seconds or less, but Natalie spent a good 5-10 minutes deliberating. Big decision.

Okay, okay. Here's what we did with those boxes.


 1. plain box
2. tempera paint
3. paint brushes
4. decorative paper
5. Mod Podge (or other decoupage medium)
6. brush for painting on the Mod Podge
7. scissors (optional)


I began by letting my kiddos paint their boxes. I knew they probably wouldn't cover the entire box with paper, so I wanted whatever didn't get covered to still have some color.

This was the messiest part of the whole project (and it wasn't so bad).

Let the paint dry. We let ours dry overnight and finished the boxes the next day.

When we sat down again, I brought out the paper and scissors and told the kids to cut shapes out of their paper.

My first idea was to cut the paper to size and fill the whole box with it, but I realized even before we began that that would be too hard and I'd end up doing more of the project than I was comfortable with. So instead, I gave them permission to just kind of go crazy with the scissors.

Natalie happily obliged and Daniel tried. But he's still getting the hang of cutting and it's difficult for him. So after a few minutes, he put the scissors down and started tearing the paper into small pieces.

The boy's like Linus with his Blankie. He actually wears it tied around his shoulders like a cape. Turns out that stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.

And you know what? I really liked that effect! So I encouraged him to keep going.

Next, brush on the Mod Podge. You need a good, healthy first layer.

After the first layer, add some paper. The main thing to remember here is that you really need to press the paper down hard to get all the air pockets out. If you neglect this step, you might end up with bubbles in the end. Not terribly nice.

If you want to add layers and layers of paper (as Natalie did, above), make sure you put a layer of Mod Podge between each piece.

After the paper, add a final top coat of Mod Podge, and... that's it! It dries to the touch pretty quickly, but I made my kids wait another night before they could play with their boxes.

So super simple, even a 3 year could do it ;)

Treasure Box with Web
Daniel, age 3

Heart-Shaped Box
Natalie, age 4

Lots of fun and not a lot of money or preparation! And so many possibilities. If you're not careful, you're going to begin looking around your house with crazy eyes, wondering what you can decoupage next. Trust me, I've been there ;)

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