Vintage Decoupage Book – a Limitless World in Decoration

Not too long ago, I attended another big book sale held by my local Friends of the Public Library.  This sale occurs twice a year, and is my favorite way to find vintage books.  It was at one of these sales that I found this book about decoupage.  Well, this time, I found another vintage book about the centuries old craft of decoupage.

Decoupage book by Dorothy Harrower

Decoupage: a Limitless World in Decoration book by Dorothy Harrower

I think a lot of people think of decoupage as being an old lady craft in which pieces of decorative paper are cut out and glued to a surface.  Very passe and ho-hum.  But one look through Decoupage: a Limitless World in Decoration by Dorothy Harrower will open your eyes to the possibilities of decoupage, and you realize cutting and gluing pieces of paper is just skimming the surface as to what this craft is about and its potential.  It encompasses so much more and looking at the myriad of examples showcased made me realize how modern it is and its influence on other crafts, including shadow box, collage, scrapbooking, cardmaking, and even home decor.

Some early forms of decoupage include paper cutting, which many cultures have practiced, including the Chinese

Chinese paper cutouts

Chinese paper cutouts

and the Polish:

Polish paper cutout

Polish paper cutout

A traditional application of decoupage:

Lord Byron's screen decoupaged with images of prizefighters

Lord Byron’s screen decoupaged with images of prizefighters

Eighteenth century artist, Mary Delany’s work has had renewed interest and is reminiscent of vintage botanical prints:

Mary Delany's horse chestnut paper mosaic

Mary Delany’s horse chestnut paper mosaic

A collage:

Letters collage, a poetic abstraction

Letters collage, a poetic abstraction

Three-dimensional shadow boxes:

Courting Couple shadow box

Courting Couple shadow box by Carl Federer

Shadow box of 18th century French provincial interior.  This entire piece was constructed completely out of paper.

Shadow box of 18th century French provincial interior by Carl Federer. This entire piece was constructed completely out of paper.

Shadow box of garden fountain scene

Shadow box of garden fountain scene

Front cover of a magazine:

House Beautiful magazine cover

House Beautiful magazine cover

Decorated Easter eggs reminiscent of Faberge:

Decorated Easter eggs by Carl Federer

Decorated Easter eggs by Carl Federer

Decoupage done with non-paper, natural materials:

Composition constructed of woodland materials

Composition constructed of woodland materials

Flower arrangement done with shells

Flower arrangement done with shells

Shadow box shell arrangement

Shadow box shell arrangement

Combing through vintage craft books can be a real source of creative inspiration.  It’s a shame that a lot of these vintage crafts have fallen out of favor, given our need for immediate gratification.  Given how hectic most people’s lives are today, they don’t want to spend hours or days on a project, much less, several weeks, which is how long it took to complete many of the works of art seen in Decoupage.

Do you like studying old craft books for inspiration?  What vintage craft has inspired you?  Please share in the comments.

 

 

About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose - to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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2 Responses to Vintage Decoupage Book – a Limitless World in Decoration

  1. Phyllis Garland November 4, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your day at the library’s book sale and trip down memory lane. I used to love to decoupage with my mother when I was a kid. We had so much fun! It seems like there are too many distractions these days that prevent us pursuing old school arts and crafts. It’s a pleasure to see your arts and crafts projects online. I live vicariously through you.

    • Serena Y Lee November 6, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

      You’re welcome, Phyllis! Sorry to hear you haven’t been able to pursue your creative interests as thoroughly now. I know how that goes; life takes over and we need to prioritize!

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