Apparently I was overly enthusiastic in coating magazine pages with gloss medium for ironed collages. I had lots of colorful pages left so I created a few more collages, using the technique I mentioned earlier from Gerald Brommer’s book, “Collage Techniques.” This time of year around the winter solstice I need all the brightness I can get.
And I still have a few bits left, though my inspiration will have quite a stretch to make anything coherent from them. I realize some of you may think I’ve already reached incoherence in the above work.
Why make these? I find them helpful exercises in composition as colors and some shapes are predetermined. They also help me learn to step away from the original photo subjects to create a new context. Finally, they scratch my scrap itch, only with paper.
Almost all paper collage techniques involve glue – gel medium, glue stick, Sobo, wheat paste, rice paste, etc. Because my fine motor skills are subpar I usually end up with glue, and sometimes bits of paper, all over my fingers. So I was intrigued to read about another way to collage, thanks to Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. She hosts an online monthly art book club, and one of her picks was Gerald Brommer’s “Collage Techniques.” Her review highlighted a different kind of adhering process Brommer describes.
The secret to the process is gloss acrylic medium. You coat both sides of your papers with the medium, allow them to dry, arrange them to your satisfaction, and then iron them down using release paper between the iron and paper. The iron melts the medium. The joy is once you’re happy with your composition you don’t have to take it apart to glue it down.
Yes, it has to be gloss medium because it gives paper a sticky surface, and you’d better use release paper if you value your iron.
I coated many magazine pages with medium (it dries fast) and made several compositions on watercolor paper and bristol board. The base also needs to have a gloss medium coat. The finished product has a glossy finish and is best stored covered with a nonstick sheet like wax paper.
I have several coated pages left for still more compositions. Goody, yet another form of scraps.
I can recommend Brommer’s book for serious explorations of collage. It is old, published in 1994, and the author is no longer with us; but it brims with wonderful examples of all kinds of art collages. It covers design, approaches, and specific techniques. I consider it well worth the $12 I spent for a used copy.
I’ve been paper collaging like mad the past week or so to give my brain time to develop quilting plans for a few pieces. Ignoring something is often a surefire way to have solutions find me. And I wanted to work more with paper anyway.
Thanks to collage classes that have you create papers to use, I have a healthy supply of solid and patterned papers. In addition, I have a backlog of magazine pages from the Sunday NY Times, plus lots of monoprint rejects from my friend Penny. Then there are the wallpaper samples she gave me, and my rejects from monoprinting and painting classes.
So now I have a paper scrap glut in addition to a fabric one, but I’ve been organizing my papers while I work on collages.
I set out to assemble collage parts that could be used to quickly make a larger composition. I got the idea from Mary Beth Shaw of Stencil Girl, but many others have a similar approach. That went well with organizing my papers as I combined color families and similar styles and cut out images.
Then gradually the parts became whole compositions.
As per usual I crammed too much into each piece. However, I am learning to use realistic images and rely more on a glue stick rather than matte medium. (I also learned that not all glue sticks are created equal. I was satisfied with the Leeho brand I had on hand, but not with the Scotch brand.) It was making me crazy to find that each collage class I took (I relied mostly on free Creativebug classes available through my library) called for a different way to adhere paper. I found that medium is too heavy for thin magazine papers and can cause the ink to smear, especially if you use medium below and over the image. However, if you use a heavy paper like bristol or watercolor you need the medium for staying power.
I hope to continue the use of photographic images in my collages and allow for more white space. My quilting background makes me think every space has to contain some material. At some point I’ll learn that paper doesn’t fall apart if you leave part of it empty. Maybe by then I’ll have learned to keep the glue on the paper and off my fingers.
What if I could have the fun of creating art with paper without the gluey mess? Last month I took David Owen Hastings‘ Stitched Paper Collage online class in the hope of finding an answer. As a result, I now have a method to create paper compositions that’s easy and non-sticky. It allows me to create simple work quickly, yet has the potential for larger, more complex pieces. And, it gives me an outlet to use all the magazine pages and monotype print oopsies I’ve collected.
Supplies are simple: sewing machine, thread, paper to cut up, and backing paper. The last can even be cut up brown paper bags. David adds refinements to help you line up your cut up papers, which can be as small as half an inch wide. Once you do one or two basic pieces to get the method down, you can take the approach wherever you like. One caution is you can’t stitch too much on the paper as it will tear. And you can’t rip out stitches for the same reason.
Here are my first pieces, done on a paper bag.
In the days after the workshop I cranked out several 6 by 6 inch pieces, using some of the monotype discards given to me by a friend.
If you’re wondering about the dangling threads, they are a design choice. David likes his to dangle. You can also pull them to the back and tape them down so they don’t show.
I gather you can join several smaller pieces with archival tape to create a larger composition. That’s where I hope to go next with this technique.
This week my Jane Davies class didn’t involve paint or paste, just cropping our collages. My fingernails thank me. Here’s what I posted to my class.
I’m showing only a few of the many cropping variations I tried. Some collages just didn’t look well cropped; others didn’t need it in my opinion. I felt that my collages with a mix of simple and complex shapes made for more interesting crops.
I used the cropping tools I’ve marked for cutting fabric motifs, which is why my photos show numbers and tick marks on the mat board edges. The reverse sides are too mucked up to use.
The collage below worked for close cropping. I ended up cropping out most of the white space.
The following group begins with the original collage, then works through five croppings. I like the lower right one the least as I’m drawn to diagonals and the lines in that one are mostly vertical. You can see how day and night affect the temperature of my lighting.
The next group also begins with the original collage. I find the first cropping to be least interesting, probably because it’s so close to the original.
Finally, I wondered what would happen if I extended the negative space to allow for highly angled cropping. I kept trying crops that didn’t work because I ran off the edges of my collages. (And some of those were my favorites.) The following two crops add more white space beyond the original collage edges. I think this could be useful if I wanted to base a larger composition on one of these crops. I would extend some of the shapes into the white area.
I can see using several of my collages as the basis for larger work, a great ready-made starting point for further what-ifs, and maybe the basis for a series.