To start my summer enrichment craft course I had my 6th-8th grade students (who are all girls this year) create decoupage boxes. Decoupage is great because its not a materials-heavy type of craft. Usually I have my kids bring in some sort of tissue box or shoe box to decoupage but this year i ordered these nifty little craft boxes. Technically you can decoupage using any variety of paper or fabric that you can glue down but I use tissue paper because I have so darn much of it in my summer school supply boxes, plus, I like the semi-transparent quality. The art of decoupage is a pretty straight forward one but the history of it is really quite interesting. Here's some background:
The word decoupage comes from the French word 'decouper' meaning to cut however this decorative craft didn't originate in France but is believed to be Chinese in origin. In China cut paper was used to decorate items such as boxes and lanterns some time around the 12th century b.c. Interestingly though, the this decorative art migrated to China from Easter Siberia where the native Siberians used a variation on the collage motif to decorate burial tombs with felt. Gaining popularity, around the 17th century through trade with the Far East, Italy and France began using decoupage techniques. The Florentine's crafted this art and made it their own by combining it with wood carving and leather work. Many times they used gold gilding and gold leaf as their collage material in combination with these already established and popular Florentine
Simultaneously in England, decoupage was called the art of Japanning, or replicating the elaborate and delicate lacquerwork seen in Japanese furniture.
A notable decoupeur in history is Mary Delany, an English Bluestocking artist who lived during the 1700's.
After reading all that, here are a few examples of my students finishes boxes.
The boxes I order were Sax brand 'decorate me' art craft boxes.