For the love of decoupage

Lyna Mohammad

“Passion is an emotion that comes from within you. It is your drive and your motivation. You don’t want to just feel passionate about your job but you want to put passion into it. You want to apply all your skills and energy into your work,” said Hajah Salmah binti Haji Halim.

Hajah Salmah, who always addresses herself as Kak Sal, was referring to her passion for decoupage, the art of decorating an object by glueing coloured paper cut-outs onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaves and other decorative elements, which is gaining popularity in Brunei, particularly among full-time housewives.

Kak Sal spoke with the Bulletin about her love for decoupage during an interview at her home, where she pointed out her decoupage artwork that she had made for her personal collections, neatly arranged in her living room.

“Commonly, an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cut-outs from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers. It can be made from a recycled can, plate, wood, old furniture, plastic bottle or glass and boxes,” she said.

“Ideas usually pop up in my mind anytime. It could be while doing my laundry or cooking. I will waste no time putting my ideas into a piece of artwork.”

Decoupage is the art of decorating an object by glueing coloured paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaves and other decorative elements. PHOTOS: LYNA MOHAMMAD
Hajah Salmah binti Haji Halim (R) teaching the art of decoupage

When she began having an interest in decoupage, a couple ofyears back while she was in Kuala Lumpur for a brief trip, it was just something for her to pass the time with at home. However, the hobby eventually turned into passion.

Upon stumbling on this new-found pursuit, Kak Sal flew to Kuala Lumpur again after obtaining the information to take a decoupage class.

She spent about two weeks gaining knowledge and skills in the art. At the time, decoupage was spreading all over Malaysia. Since then, Kak Sal has made a few trips to Kuala Lumpur to get more lessons and skills training on decoupage and has had her luggage filled with decoupage materials every time she returns.

Kak Sal takes pride in her finished decoupage products and usually posts pictures on social media platforms. This is where people started to comment and ask about decoupage. Seeing the interests, she decided to share her knowledge and skills by giving lessons to those who have grown fond of decoupage.

From merely one casual class to another, Kak Sal has been accepting lesson requests from people of all walks of life, while establishing a circle of decoupage fans in Brunei Darussalam.

According to Kak Sal, there are only two things you need to make a good decoupage item: passion and creativity.

“If you are naturally born with a good sense of creativity, you will have no problem in catching up with the lessons as your passion is already in you when you start to grow fond of decoupage.”

“I conduct classes because I love to teach and share decoupage with them. It gives me happiness to see participants enjoying their lessons and exchanging ideas. I also teach them on advanced effects such as crackling that gives their artwork a classic look.”

Seeing her participants loving the classes she conducts, their artwork that turn out well and beautiful as well as their ability to channel their creativity, brings much joy for Kak Sal.

She hopes that her classes will able to give them a platform to turn what they learnt into entrepreneurship and generate extra income for them.

She said that decoupage does not cost much. With just BND20, you can make your own piece of decoupage as the items used can be recycled materials.

“That is how I started but now I have been buying things such as plain tiffin and jewellery boxes for my personal collection, but of course it usually ends up with people requesting for purchases or orders when I posted it on my Instagram.”

With a lot of people in the country who love handicrafts, Kak Sal sees the potential of decoupage growing as more people are getting their hands on decoupage – some may just do it as a hobby and some who see it as a way of earning side income.