Ben Busko Creates Decoupage Delights In His Studio in Sunset Park, Brooklyn
With his work space filled with windows that illuminate his worktables, Busko and his team create one-of-a-kind artwork, prints, and novelty items.
Childhood dreams don’t always become reality, but in Ben Busko’s case, a lifelong fascination with decoupage evolved into a full-fledged career. He indulged his creative side early on, decoupaging his mother’s cocktail table when he was just a young boy.
In Busko’s Sunset Park, Brooklyn, studio, expansive windows illuminate worktables where he and his small team of artisans create decoupage artwork, prints, and novelty items, sold under the label Ben’s Garden at both nationwide retailers like Neiman Marcus and Anthropologie and local Ben’s Garden shops in Oyster Bay and Huntington, with stores slated to open soon in Brooklyn and Manhattan. “We’re not only making a product, but something that requires skill and talent,” Busko says. “What we do can’t just be popped out of a mold or heat-pressed onto the back of a tray.”
Busko specializes in reverse decoupage, which involves affixing an image or collage of images to the bottom of a glass accessory—such as a tray, coaster, or paperweight—with a mixture of white glue, water, and a hardening agent. He works with a considerable arsenal of floral prints, quoted material, and vintage maps, which he often personalizes with calligraphy, watercolor, and oil-paint accents. Once the image or collage adheres to the glass, he smooths it out with a painter’s spatula to eliminate air bubbles and creases, then uses a craft knife to trim excess paper from the edges. Next, he applies white 28-pound paper to the back of the piece, allowing it to dry. Finally, the back of the glass is painted with white acrylic paint, followed by a layer of black spray paint and black felt, which keeps the finished item from scratching tabletops and walls.
“Decoupage is great because it’s such a visual process,” Busko says. “As you’re doing it, you can see the progression, and where you are in terms of the steps that need to be done. It’s kind of contagious, and the artist in me just can’t stay away. I’m always covered in glue and paint, but I do what I love, and I love what I do.”