Decoupage was once the queen of British crafts, counting Charlotte, Queen consort of King George III, among its most fervent practitioners. Today, it is making a royal return to the British Isles.
Decoupage is the technique of decorating any surface, whether wood, metal, glass, textile, plastic, or ceramic, with patterns cut from paper and then carefully varnishing over the decoration to make the edges imperceptible to the touch. In this way, decoupage often leaves admirers marvelling at how a decoration had been made.
The word decoupage comes from the French verb "découper" - to cut. The technique, developed over many centuries in China, arrived in Europe during the 17th Century. It quickly became a passion with ladies of the courts of France, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Some decoupeurs came to be regarded as artists. One such was Mary Delaney, darling of Queen Charlotte's court. Her masterpieces have inspired generations of decoupeurs and can be seen today in the British Museum. Later exemplars included Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
Decoupage has since spread to other countries and continents. Currently it is very popular in Italy, USA, Brazil, Poland and South Africa. Now, it seems that decoupage is finding its way back into British hearts too. This is a trend on which Queen Charlotte would certainly smile.