One of my favorite hobbies that I discovered not too long ago is the very feminine art of decoden. Decoden is the art of embellishment. You basically grab a TON of crap and stick it to whatever you want. That’s the basic gist of it. But by “crap” I of course mean a large amount of cute items. These are called cabochons. From sweets, to flowers, and even ribbons; you can add anything to a decoden piece. I’ve seen cell phone cases, Nintendo DS’s, contact cases, bento boxes, and so many other things embellished in this fashion. It can add a lot of personality to an otherwise boring item. This trend was, of course, given to us by Japan.<3 I’ve done a lot of decoden myself. I’ve mostly done jewelry boxes, but I also enjoy doing my nails from time to time. Rose even bought me an adorable decoden kit for my birthday in November. She knows me so well <3
Here are some images of some pieces I’ve done in the past:
Here’s a box I made Rose for her birthday last year. ^^
That’s an eyelash case that I made for myself just to get some practice.
Anyways, as I was saying. I really like this hobby. I love to surround myself with sweet and adorable things so it’s kinda perfect for me. I guess you could say I’m a material girl. That’s probably not a good thing to be. Oh well. Nonetheless, I feel that it is my responsibility to share my love of decoden with the world! So here is a tutorial for a piece that I am doing.
When starting a decoden project, there are a lot of supplies that you should get your hands on first. I recommend that you find most of these items, but you can do anything thing you want when you’re embellishing something. That’s what’s most fun about decoden.
Here is my recommended list of supplies:
- An item to embellish (i.e. something small so that you’ll have time to decorate it before it dries. You can use items such as jewelry boxes, contact lens cases, cell phone cases, Nintendo DS systems or cases, compact mirrors, picture frames, or anything you can come up with.) I’ll be using a small wooden jewelry box for this tutorial.
- Silicone Caulk– I always use the DAP brand that comes in a soft tube. You don’t need to use a caulking gun for this one. It doesn’t really matter which kind. I like Alex Plus and Kwik Seal. Just make sure you get pure white.
- Metal cake decorating tips. I use Wilton brand metal icing tips. You can get these for roughly $1-$2 each at your local grocery or hobby store. I recommend that you get at least 2 tips to start you off: A small star tip and a large one. But you can always just pick one if you’re really limited on what you can do.
(You could use the cheap plastic ones, but I’ve found that the metal ones make the wisps of silicone look much cleaner and sharper. And yeah, plastic ones are cheap (about $2 per pack of 3) and disposable; but if you keep throwing them away and buying new ones for each new project, you’ll end up spending a lot more money for a lower quality item. The metal tips are washable and easy to clean. You can even put them in your dishwasher. (Although I recommend hand-washing while the silicone is still malleable.)
- Tape (to attach the cake tips to the tube of silicone, and to seal off the end when you’re done so the caulk doesn’t dry out.)
- An assortment of cabochons. This is where you can go crazy and add a ton of your personality to your project. I like to use a lot of food shaped cabochons such as ice cream, cakes, cookies, chocolates, biscuits, and other cutesy items. I find most of mine on Etsy.com. (I use the keywords “kawaii cabochons”. There are tons of shops who offer cabochons for good prices.) You can also get a lot of small plastic findings in the scrapbooking sections in your local JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby. (Or whatever hobby supply shop your community offers.) They are simply just not as cute. I also make many of my own cabochons out of resin. (That’s another of my many hobbies.)
- Rhinestones, pearls, beads, etc. You can find a number of these items in hobby stores or at Walmart as well.
- Tweasers (for grabbing things that are just a bit too small for fingers)
- Hot Glue or Superglue (just in case.)
- OPTIONAL(for the sake of my tutorial): Spray paint, sand paper, and a screw driver. I used Krylon Fusion spray paint in the color “Blue Ocean Breeze”.
I’ll be embellishing a small wooden jewelry box that I found at Hobby Lobby. I think it cost me about $3 for the box itself. It’s really cheap. And by cheap I mean poorly made—it needs a good sanding to give it a smooth finish. I like to unscrew the hinges so that I can sand it and paint it easily.
Once you have a nice smooth finish, you’ll want to prime and paint. I LOVE pastel colors. I always use soft colors when I can. Just slap on a coat of primer, and 1-2 coats of your choice of paint, and you’ll be set. Make sure you spray it in a well ventilated area! You’ll give yourself a headache and probably kill more than a few brain cells if you don’t. And word to the wise: try to spray it in a warm area too. The paint will stay tacky for a long time, and have trouble drying if you spray it in the freezing cold (I’ve learned from experience). I’d also let it dry completely before you start embellishing otherwise it could get really messy.
After you screw the hinges back on, you’re ready to start the decoden process!
What you want to do first is cut the tip off of your tube of silicone. DON’T cut it all the way off; just cut enough off so that you can place the icing tip over the open tube. It’s not going to fit perfectly, so that’s where the tape will come in handy. I use clear packing tape only because I have it sitting around. You could use duct tape or whatever you prefer. (Masking tape is probably not a good choice, but I suppose that if you tape it well enough, anything could work.)
If you have never done any cake decorating, you should really practice with the silicone on paper before you dive into your project. When learning cake decorating, a great home-ec teacher once told me, “It’s all about the amount of pressure you give when squeezing it out.” (That’s what she said…) Okay, but seriously. Try to focus on your hand pressure and keeping it consistent. When you feel comfortable with the way your “icing” looks, it’s time to start your real decorating!
I always start with a border around the entire lid. I use the larger icing tip to do this—it’s really just personal preference. I use a “shell” technique for this. Instead of just making a drop of silicone, I squeeze some out and drag the tip to the side. To end one shell smoothly, you must begin the next one—meaning you must give a lot of pressure, ease off, and give a lot more pressure to start the next shell so that they look continuous of each other. If you mess up, just wipe the error away and try again!
There’s a pic of my practice shells. I always like to warm up before I start with the real thing.
Once you finish the border, cover the ENTIRE lid with star drops. These are easy and they don’t have to be perfect like the border does. You are going to cover the entire top with cabochons anyways. I suggest that you fill in any gaps that you missed.
This is where the fun starts. Stick your cabochons anywhere you want! I usually start with a really big one, then do some medium ones, and fill the rest in with my smallest ones. It’s really the easiest part!
After I’ve added as much as my heart desires, I have a little trick to make it look like a really yummy treat. I use long pieces of glitter to look like sprinkles!
It really doesn’t take much, so be careful with this part. If you add too much glitter there really isn’t a way to clean it up. I sprinkle some into the palm of my hand, grab a pinch between my fingers, and slowly sprinkle it over the whole piece. Lastly, I always use a second “fairy dust” glitter to give it a little more sparkle. And that’s that!
Here’s the finished piece:
Now, in all seriousness, DO NOT POKE THE SILICONE TO SEE IF IT’S DONE DRYING. I’ve ruined a few things by touching them to see if they’re dry. I really can’t help it…I’m so impatient. I would give the silicone a good 24-48 hours before trying to move it. If you’re in doubt, just don’t touch it for 48 hours.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always loved creating things with my hands. I’m really glad that I’m getting to share my love and knowledge! Feel free to take my simple ideas and make them complex! Really, the whole point is to just have fun!
I wish you the best!