John Derian on How to Make DIY Decoupage – Vogue – Vogue.com


September 30, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized


Photo: Stephen Johnson, Courtesy of Artisan/Workman

Have you ever walked down East Second Street? If the answer is yes, you’ve likely been struck by the series of enchanting, gem-like shops known collectively as the John Derian Company. Carrying textiles, furniture, and many magical baubles, the stores’ most renowned wares are undoubtedly the decoupage pieces—made by Derian himself. And now, after almost three decades’ worth of production, a book detailing the prints behind these pieces is coming out next week. With vivid reproductions—and a foreword by Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour—it is truly a must-read. But what we really wanted to know after our own perusal was technical nitty-gritty—decoupage 101, from where to shop for images to business words of wisdom. Here, John Derian’s tips of the trade:

First off, how do you find the prints that you use?
They’re mostly 18th- and 19th-century examples from dealers and antique bookshops like The Old Print Shop on Lexington Avenue—but 99 percent of the images come from instructive books. The funny, naive, and vintage ephemera are from a couple other more specific dealers and one flea market in New York. And, of course, whenever I am traveling I keep my eye open for paper goods.

The subject matter I tend to work with documents all the beauty from the natural world—it’s classic and timeless. I feel at peace in the outdoors, and I think that is somehow captured in these images.

What’s the process like after sourcing? From the designs themselves to glass application?  
I collect prints throughout the year and then create a biannual collection for the four shows I do—two in New York and two in Paris. I decide what I think will best show the beauty of the images I find: Will they work better larger or smaller? Would just a detail be enough? Then I mock up the pieces in my studio, and the team at my workshop piece it all together and I see what works.

Most of the trays are a single layer of paper, with glue evenly applied on the surface of the image. Clear glass-blown trays from Virginia get placed on top, and the glue is moved around, leaving an even, cloudy film that dries clear. Then they get finished—painted with a gold border along the edges and felted. The 3-D pieces like cake pedestals and lamps have a similar but more labor-intensive process, involving anywhere from three to 60 individual pieces being cut and glued one at a time.

John Derian’s studio

Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Johnson

Do you have any advice for those looking to start doing decoupage themselves?
Use any kinds of images that you are drawn to. I have been doing this for so long—27 years!—that people sometimes think that decoupage is supposed to look exactly like my pieces, but it’s endless what one could do.

Your glue mixture needs to be just right. Use a water-based glue watered down further. Work fast, reprint all your materials (old papers don’t take glue well), and stay away from anything with too much color or that is too black. The denser the color, the harder it is for the glue to attach itself to glass.

What about basic care?
The surfaces remain glass, so anything can go on top, but they are not to be submerged in water. Technically the paper has light-safe ink and is acid-free, but I would keep out of direct light.

Any advice for people looking to start their own business in the creative, artistic, or homewares arena?
Have fun, stay passionate, and be patient.

John Derian Picture Book (Artisan) is out October 4.

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