Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Découpage - Oh Cut It Out!

A thoroughly inoffensive decoupage box
(photo by Anne Bourne)


Noun. Plural pronounced same. Mid-20th century.
[French, from découper cut up or out.]

1 The decoration of a surface with cut-out paper patterns or illustrations;
an object so decorated. M20

2 CINEMATOGRAPHY. The cutting or editing of a film. M20

Of all the arts and crafts, découpage must be one of the most benign and inoffensive. In 2013, however, it provoked the kind of spittle-spattered fury that only the internet can muster. Kayleigh Herbertson, author of the blog Articlate & Intricate, wrote a review of Anna Rice's vampire novel Pandora, hated it (and said so articulately and intricately), and ultimately decided the paper would be better used in a spot of decopatch, which is a less fancy name and easier version of the classic coupage. Anna Rice read this review and was so incensed by it that she saw fit to call out Herbertson on her Facebook page, thus goading and unleashing her hoards of dribbling fans on the lone blogger.

'Courtney' was first to rail against Herbertson on her own blog, leaving the carefully considered comment: "YOU [FLIPPIN'] HAG! I HOPE YOU GET HERPES!" More histrionics followed, with Herbertson's book-destroying antics being called disrespectful, immature, downright evil and reminiscent of the Nazi book-burnings of the 1930s. Herbertson (who describes herself as a small scale blogger with less than 100 followers) patiently waded through the comments, politely and respectfully replying, even though they have now run into their thousands.

Ultimately, Kayleigh Herbertson comes out of this looking rather well; Anna Rice comes out looking like a petulant bully whose time would be better spent improving her books (it's not the first time she has reacted to critics that common sense says you should ignore - she once wrote 1,200 word one-paragraph response to negative Amazon reviewers, telling them they they were reading her books from the 'wrong perspective'); as for a core of Rice's fans who descended upon Herbertson, they came across as slavering, slavish, barely-literate pitbulls, hardly capable of reading books, let alone defending the merits of one or that of their author.

As for the découpage itself, many took offence to Herbertson's 'desecration' of Pandora, as if books are somehow sacrosanct. As an ardent bibliophile, I find this idea utterly bizarre. If she had not given this book new life in découpage, what should she have done with it? Thrown it away? Burned it? Inflict its illiterate horrors upon someone else? Or was it only that she didn't like it, and then découpaged it? Although not an artsy-crafty type myself, I think it's a rather wonderful way to keep a battered old paperback alive just that little bit longer, even one as interminably awful as Pandora (no, I haven't read it, nor will I, and yes, I've decided to take Herbertson's review on this matter at face value). That's just my opinion, of course, something we're all entitled to, a concept that seems beyond Anna "Time to Stop Googling Yourself" Rice and a number of her fans.

Do please cut to the chase and stick your comments in the box below.


  1. Why herpes? That's an oddly specific disease to hope someone gets. There's all kinds of bloody nuttery going on here.

    1. I don't know. Maybe herpes is the very worst disease one can get in vampire culture. I doubt there's too much reasoning within the mind that typed that.

  2. Why herpes, indeed?
    This episode is so hilarious - and I didn't caught scent of this one but others in the same feeling: "blast you from here to L in high heels and mini skirt for destroying books".
    I don't like to destroy books. I once bought one with the sole purpose of cutting the interior to turn it into a jewel box and I could feel my hands shaking as if I was desecrating it.
    Decoupage with books' pages is wonderful and very inspiring. The technique is not so easy, but then everything that involves glue is complicated for me :D.

    Writers tend to be a volatile bunch. I love novels and I love a writer but the way she whines when a fan doesn't sing in the "You're a True Yeats" Choir annoys the L out of me. I avoid her wrath because I don't want Herpes or the backlash it would mean from other fans, but it tarnishes a bit the respect and admiration... oh well.

    I mentioned you in my blog today. Just because I posted a Daisy. Don't wish me Herpes for not asking before... my readers/friends are a friendly (the best!) bunch.
    Take Care,

    1. I don't like destroying books either, but I don't think this is destroying. Rather, I think of it as a recreation, particularly of something that the blogger didn't appreciate (the book) into something she would (her decopatch).

      And Teresa - I didn't know you had a had a blog! Do please send me the link : o )

  3. Been there, done that and cut the paper!

  4. Thanks for your support, what a great website find!

    1. Well if it's not *the* Kayleigh Herbertson!

      Welcome, Kayleigh, and thank you for dropping in! : o )