Heading into collage can be very liberating and fun. It can also be paralyzing if the last time you entertained the idea of collage was when you were 11. I think there are a lot of ways you can become more comfortable using collage in your work. Let’s first talk about some things it doesn't have to be (but it of course, it can be if that’s your jam).
Your composition doesn’t need to be filled corner to corner, I know we often see very intense solid packed planes of images. That is one way to approach collage, but you can also leave some breathing room in your composition. Think about the negative space that will be around the images, perhaps some of the paper showing is a good idea.
The paper does not have to be torn, yes you can tear it. That can be liberating and a lot of fun. But you can also use scissors or an X-acto Knife to make clean cuts. I like the act of cutting with scissors but each person will find what they like best.
There is the belief that your materials should match, or be store bought, or from old magazines. They do not! There are a lot of materials out in the world friends. Paintings you no longer like, old photos, book covers, marbled papers ( we will do a prompt on this during the summer), toned papers, postcards, vintage papers, old music sheets, tissue paper, handmade papers, old tea boxes. One thing I like to do is collect catalogs from stores I like the decor of. Often my color sensibilities are being stimulated and that becomes a perfect match for later collages. Go wild and let the fun of collecting begin.
Yes, collage can be integrated with writing, painting, and drawing. Collage does not have to be isolated to just cut paper. Bring in other media, yes please. How much fun is it to put a wash down, paint a pattern and then collage on top.
Materials I suggest;
Bone folder, one either made from bone or teflon. You will use the bone folder to help get out the air bubbles. Air bubbles may be the number 1 distraction in collage and they don’t have to happen. The bone folder is great for small areas. Added plus it’s great for future bookmaking projects.
Brayer, a brayer will help you smooth out the paper to eliminate air bubbles. Great for larger pieces of paper. I think the brayer will help you achieve a seamless collage to paper presentation. Often a brayer is used in printmaking, but it’s also a collagists best friend.
scissors, all types. From surgical scissors to Fiskars. Whatever helps you get the perfect cut. You can also use X-acto knives they come in all fancy ways now for every type of need out there.
Glue, I recommend Yes Paste or Coccoina glue for most of you daily collage needs. If you have really heavy paper or photos you might also want to use PVA glue. It will dry faster and help get the images down. Yes paste and coccina are a paste and that is to your benefit since there will be less air bubbles. That is really your biggest villain in collage. If you use a cheap glue stick or Elmer’s glue you will get frustrated. It’s the glue not you, so invest in some good glue so that your work will shine.
glue brushes, it really is a big deal. A regular paint brush ain’t going to cut it. Having the right tools is essential to whatever task is at hand. I recommend a nylon glue brush like the one here at Dick Blick.
Old phone book or magazine. This is perfect for when you need to put glue on the back of your image. You do not want to get your table or art covered in extra glue. Open up the old phone book, lay down your image, put glue on it pick it up and put it where it belongs then either use the brayer or bone folder to adhere it to the page. Voila! perfect clean collage technique. Now flip the phone book for your next page so you don’t accidentally get old glue on the face of your next collage piece.
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