I am getting ready to work on some collaging in the studio over the next few days. I have worked on several large fabric quilted pieces recently, and I want to collage for a change of pace. (I began creating small paper collages regularly a little over a year ago, and I was delighted and surprised by how much I enjoy them, and how much I learn from them.)
To prepare, I pulled out one I've already completed to look at its parts and think about what pleases me in this process. This is “Windows to a Far Region”
MAGICAL BOND I collage thin materials: rice paper and fabric. (When using fabric, it is most frequently a thin sheer fabric, which has many properties in common with rice paper.) Bonding these to a substrate is like magic. It is the most exciting and rewarding part of the whole process. I slather matte medium behind and on top of the piece I am collaging and then press it down on the substrate. If it's rice paper, I brayer it for a good bond. If it's fabric I use my hands. (**Handy tip at end of this blog) Aaaahhhh! The piece being collaged just melts right into the substrate. Whatever image has been printed (usually monotype) just “pops” with detail. There I am looking at delicate effects I could not create any other way.
LIKE WATERCOLOR The imagery reminds me a lot of watercolor painting. When I learned to watercolor, I fell in love with its lightness and translucence. I have always found liquid, semi-transparent watercolor paintings more appealing than opaque acrylics or oils.
AREAS BLEND More magic happens when additional layers are collaged over the base layer. Just as the base layer has a magical bond with the substrate, a second layer will magically bond with layer one. When I work with paper, I like to rip the edges instead of cutting. Sometimes the point of intersection becomes completely invisible.
INFORMAL EDGES When I monotype print onto fabric or rice paper, the edge of the image on the plate is one of the most interesting parts of the image. I have learned to keep these edges as organic as possible. The edge of a brayer mark on the printing plate, for example, will make a wonderful and interesting image edge on the finished collage. When it's time to create the collage, I spend time looking for those edges to place them in an interesting place in the composition.
SERENDIPITY: As much as I have gained experience with my printing and collaging methods, effects are sometimes created which are a complete surprise. The lighter white lines within these squares are an example. They were more of a discovery than a plan. But I sure enjoyed the discovery!
In addition to large storytelling quilts, some of my next planned projects in the studio are mixes of geometric shapes with organic, based on the collage experiences. Creating a few of these smaller works is getting me into the groove.
If you would enjoy looking at more collaged works, visit the collage gallery on my web site, HERE.
Meanwhile, just for fun...
I want to brag on a new public art project in my hometown DeLand. A group of fun-loving and creative textile artists are creating tree wraps for downtown palm trees. There are now three wrapped trees downtown. Terrific teamwork: the City of DeLand supports and helps and the public art committee of the Museum of Art DeLand coordinates. (I enjoy serving on that committee.) I am not part of the team creating these pieces. Just a citizen who can enjoy them — and brag on them!)
**Handy Tip for Collaging with your hands: Artists who are wiser than I am probably already know this, but it was a hard-earned discovery for me, since I just can't work on delicate collage pieces in any kind of glove, and I have spent many hours trying to scrub acrylic medium off my hands. (It's very stubborn!) I use wax paper as a staple supply in my studio. I place the wax paper over the piece I am collaging and then brayer or rub with my hands to create the adhesion. It's nice and thin and you can see through it to see what you are doing. It does not stick to the collage. Just peel it off VERY carefully so you don't pull off whatever you just added to the work! Happy creating.
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