What a lovely little word “trinket” is. The English language is full of delights such as this. Think how much more fun it is to wear a frock, instead of a mere dress, or how much more tempting a parcel is than a prosaic package, or, for that matter, how much more adorable a posy is than a flower, all thanks to our language of endless riches.
I was thinking about this as I prepared to decoupage a little wooden box, realizing it was only large enough for a trinket. I’d purchased the box on sale for a dollar at a local craft store thinking to paint it, but it had sat untouched for several years. Still on a paper cutting rampage, I suddenly realized that it was perfect for decoupage. I pulled out a copy of Decoupage, A New Look at an Old Craft, by Leslie Linsley, and set to work. Most wooden objects require some sanding to smooth them for crafting, though I found that lightly sanding the lid was enough for this particular box. I browsed through Full-Color Floral Vignettes, from Dover, and found a pretty flower sprig to cut out. I used to think that cutting out a motif for decoupage would be tedious, but it’s actually quite pleasant and meditative in nature. Just take your time. I think it’s easiest to use scissors to cut out the outer portion of the motif, and then to use a craft knife for any interior portions. Then I base-coated the box with cream-colored acrylic craft paint, let it thoroughly dry, and then gave it another coat. Then I lightly sanded the edges of the box so that it looks worn. I practiced positioning the cut-out onto the lid, noting where it looked best. Then I applied glue (Yes! brand) to the cut-out motif and applied it to the lid, gently smoothing it down. Take time smoothing the glued motif to ensure that it completely adheres to the surface, paying special attention to little leaf-tips or stem-ends that might curl up. At this point I did a bit more judicious sanding. Then I decided to add some leaves to the bottom portion of the box, so it looked more balanced. To allow time for the paint and glue to completely dry, I took a break and had a cup of tea. Then I brushed onto the box some Satin Interior Varnish from Delta Ceramcoat (two coats). After allowing the varnish to dry completely, I placed a little wooden bird pin into the trinket box, and it now has a place of honor on my dresser.
Lesley Linsley’s book, which came out in 1972, can be purchased on Amazon for $2.00 plus s&h. There is a newer, bigger edition out, but it lacks the charm of the first book. Also, I had purchased a decoupage “kit” some years ago, and it came in handy, especially the tweezers (see photo at right). Their delicate tips made it easy to pick up tiny cutouts.
From the standpoint of a seasoned “decoupeur” (one who does decoupage), this project is only the crudest relation to the fabulous decoupage of the 18th century and Victorian times. But it’s fun, and I hope to create more “trinket boxes” for my dresser. Can you imagine a little trio of boxes decoupaged with birds or butterflies or fern leaves?