Lessons from Mod Podge History

Original Mod-Podge logo from their original trademark application.

ATLANTA – One of the happier trademarks in the U.S. is Mod Podge, the decoupage coating. Georgia entrepreneuse and interior designer Jan Wetstone, whose Buckhead shop Jan’s Interiors is shown as the original owner of the brand, invented the Mod-Podge in 1965. Note that it was first trademarked with a dash.

Decoupage was, and still is, popular. But it was biggest in the 1970s, when magazines were plentiful, and surfaces were spartan. You could decoupage a car, a box, a piece of furniture or even a wall, all thanks to the secret, time-defying liquid in Mod Podge. Make a calico cat! Pop up a trashcan! Snazz up some picture frames. The official trademark description goes thus:

Polymer glue used as an adhesive, protective and decorative coating upon paper prints or other art reproductions, both on the front and reverse side of said print, oil documents, magazine pictures, or the like, the same being for mounting on a canvas, masonite, metal or other similar surface to preserve the print and to give the decorative appearance similar to that of an oil painting.

The packaging and color, which still has the Austin Powers look of the original, has a declaration of first use on Oct. 6, 1965 and was first used in commerce on Oct. 31, 1966. Published Aug. 29, 1967, the mark was renewed June 5, 2017. The original specimen at the Patent and Trademark Office has the original maker as “Jan’s Interiors” at 3108 Roswell Road in Atlanta.

Inventor Janet Meyerson Wetstone was born April 19, 1928 in Spartanburg, SC to the merchant family of Louis and Ella Meyerson. Her brother, the late Gerald Meyerson, was a Citadel and Yale-educated attorney and merchant. She later moved to Atlanta, then in 1982 to Sarasota, Florida, where she started the children’s arts festival at the Ringling Museum.

She returned to Atlanta in 2009, and died February 20, 2013. Her obit lists three children, Linda Lloyd of Powder Spring, GA, Greg Wetstone of Bethesda, MD and John Wetstone of Munich, Germany, and five grandchildren. A full history of the product can be seen by clicking HERE, where current owners Plaid Enterprises of Decatur, Ga. has assembled a great archive of product history.

A 2002 social column at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune tells of one of her later exploits:

Yet one more example of the best laid plans o’ mice and men gang astray … was sent in by Jan Wetstone who had planned a viewing party of her show with “Rosie,” demonstrating Jan’s invention, Mod Podge, scheduled May 28. VCRs and tapes at the ready, only to find out that the segment had been moved to June 20. “A comedy of errors,” Jan said, “but I guess that’s show biz.”

It is still a bestseller, available at thousands of stores, including Walmart. In Sarasota, educator and Christian education director Jacki Boedecker (a Mod Podge fan) remembers Wetstone being active on the local social scene, but did not know of her Mod Podge inventor status.
Even yesterday, she said she was sorting through some decoupage handbags in some of her parents things, thinking back on the era. In the ’70s, Boedecker said, you just “did not not have it in your cabinet.”
Today, there are many versions of Mod Podge, including matte, glossy, antiqued and dishwasher safe, among others, all sold by Plaid Enterprises.

About the Author

  • Garland Pollard is publisher/editor of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands. He has decades of experience across all media, including newspapers, TV, radio, magazines and the web.

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