Found a great post over at Design Sponge on the history of decoupage. Decoupage is actually a 20th century word that was derived from the French word decouper, meaning to cut out. It was considered the poor man’s art form to the Chinese inlay work. Ladies of the era would hand-color prints, cut them out with scissors, paste them to furniture, and then add multiple layers of varnish until the print was completely embedded. It was a time-consuming process, although it was easier and cheaper than the original inlay work done by the artisans from China & Venetia.
According to Amy's research, "At the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the ladies cut up original paintings by Boucher, Watteau and Fragonard in their quest for new decorations for their decoupage fans, boxes or screens."
This site also has some interesting decoupage information, along with great recommendations on books, should you feel the need to further study the art form.
I became fascinated with a concept that used a process similar to decoupage to cover six sides of a wooden block to form a puzzle. These puzzles would sometimes have 30 or 40 blocks in the set to form lovely images of popular fairy tales of the day. Because my husband has roots in pioneer heritage, I found it interesting to learn that western children didn't give up their much loved toy because they didn't have access to lithographs of their favorite bedtime story. Their parents used the wood blocks as a canvas for a painted version which usually portrayed images of farm animals or scenes of nature.
This gorgeous example is described to have come from the Germany in the late 1800's. Because the picture is copyrighted, I simply share a small portion of the puzzle. I found the aging process around the corners fascinating. This is the look that we try to replicate in our projects. Be sure to check out the puzzle here. I'll be jealous if you decide to drop the requested $148 US on the set. I've always wanted to see one of these originals up close and personal!
Stories by Me's roots began with this simple puzzle concept. I wanted to create something that would help my kids identify with their heritage. I had no proof, but I hoped that my great-great-great grandparents might have been lucky to have a set of wooden blocks to enjoy in their childhood. I knew that my kids LOVED puzzles and just might pay attention if I used pictures of my ancestors in the process!
Since my rough first attempt, I've probably made more than 50 puzzles to share with family and friends. (And that's not counting the 100's of puzzles I've helped other people make in class settings!) My blocks now feature family gatherings, favorite pets, a trip to Disneyland... all sorts of important events that need remembering. I love using wood as the base for my story!
Almost as distressed as the 100+ year old puzzle!Check out how to distress your project here.
I'm now dreaming of ways to incorporate family faces into the DIY project that Amy offers at the bottom of her post. (Be sure to scroll ALL the way to the bottom to get see the instructions!)