Monday, February 28, 2011

Collaging: Not just for ransom notes

I used to think that collaging was just a sheet of paper covered in hacked up magazines and wrinkled with drips of Elmer's glue.  Maybe it was having nothing to work with but the stack of 20 year old National Geographics in my high-school art class that turned me off, but I've since found that collaging is actually a very fun and sophisticated art form. 

After a day of dealing with aggravating clients, there's nothing more therapeutic than taking an Xacto to paper and focusing all your attention on outlining an object.  Plus, collaging costs practically nothing; if you're short on old magazines and catalogs, just raid the curbs on recycling day.  Don't limit yourself to what has been photographed, either.  Look for patterns, colors, and textures and use them to create your own shapes a la Henri Matisse. Or go on and mix that media up by painting, inking, or drawing over top.

Here are a few tools I recommend for the optimal collaging experience. All are available at any craft store:
  1. Xacto or utility knife + replacement blades.  A blunt blade will tear the paper instead of making a nice, clean cut.
  2. Rubber cement.  It doesn't wrinkle and is very forgiving.  If you make a mistake or want to change the placement of something, just peel it up and re-stick it.  And who doesn't like rolling it up into those gooey balls?  I also sometimes use mat medium, which is a little stronger but still doesn't wrinkle as much as white glue.
  3. A self-healing cutting mat.  A piece of cardboard works too, but these mats are worth the investment.  The surface springs back after you cut into it and come printed with a grid and guidelines.  You will use it all the time. 
Look for more on collage in future posts!

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