So I tried to teach a collage class at everybody’s favorite art store and I got schooled by a tough reminder that knowing how to do something is not the same as knowing how to teach others how to do it. The class was fine and the attendees turned out great work, but I could tell there was some frustration that I wasn’t providing enough information or structure. I realized belatedly that when I do collage work, there’s not much in the way of surface level “rules” or thoughts going on—I put together stuff that “feels” like it goes well together. Which is great for me, and really not helpful at all for people attending a class. I had an idea to structure with a specific project, such as making a calendar, but the class didn’t seem thrilled by the idea so I just defaulted to the traditional layering method for creating dynamic imagery. I’m hoping that bringing a million supplies counted for something, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to try something new. But I’ll stick to teaching writing classes from now on, since I feel confident in my abilities to teach, encourage, and spark in that subject. And in case anyone still wanted a few tidbits on the topic of collage, I’ve outlined some here.
Best kind of glue? Purple glue stick. This was wise advice from the late, great Amy Edgington, reiterated by the hip young artist-poet Sandy Longhorn.
Use a thick base, such as wood, cardboard, or cardstock. If you use something slimmer, like some types of art paper, and your base starts warping, it’s too thin. That’s okay. Just glue another layer to the back.
Know that if you mod-podge the top of your finished creation in order to give it a (clear but textured) protective layer, it can warp or bubble the images you’ve used. Experiment first so you know the differences in how it will look. I tend to just slip my work into clear plastic sleeves.
Assemble the pieces before you glue them: lay everything out the way you want before you glue anything. If you’re afraid you’ll forget exactly how you had it, take a picture with your phone.
Alternately you can also just start gluing without a plan, just know you may end up with something a little more abstract or disjointed. Either way, it’s your creation.
Keep in mind that whatever you glue down first is going to be your bottom layer. So if there an image you really like, save it for the top.
Anything can be part of your project: scraps of fabric, ribbon, stickers, hole punches, shape punches, stamps, washi tape, words and images from magazines, as well as discarded or old used books—art books and coffee table books are especially good sources, and don’t forget comic books! You can also print virtually anything off the internet, and you can also photocopy the same image to use more than once. In addition, various papers such as: newspaper print, music paper, patterned or printed paper, graph paper, tissue paper.
If you love the look of it, clip it and save it. Inexpensive methods of storage include paper envelopes and clear plastic (sandwich or snack) baggies. If you want something a little sturdier, IKEA has corkboard slide drawers, and The Container Store has clear plastic photo storage.
If you’re interested in more check out the Rookie Mag and The Spruce. And don’t forget, you can also search Pinterest and Etsy (until your eyes fall out) for endless inspiration and ideas.
Until Next Time!