Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What is a Collage and How Do I Make One?

A collage is a work of art that is composed by gluing objects such as pieces of torn paper, photographs, fabric or metal onto a surface.  The term collage stems from the French word coller, which means to glue or paste.  Collage as an art form emerged early in the 20th century when Synthetic Cubist artists Picasso and Braque first began creating artwork by gluing material such as wallpaper and cloth onto canvas.  Many people are familiar with Matisse's bold, colorful collages.

Making a collage is a creative, fun process.  If you are an imaginative person who enjoys exploring new artistic media, then perhaps you would like to experience the process of making a collage.  You can make a collage that expresses an emotion, represents your interests, makes a political statement or even addresses a relevant social issue.

Once you have been inspired by an idea and have decided on your theme, you can begin gathering your supplies.  You'll need a base to adhere your items onto.  Keep in mind that you'll need a stronger surface, possibly even wood, for heavier materials.  Traditional collage materials include magazines, colorful tissue paper, cloth, readable print and textured paper.  Found objects such as gemstones, beads, string or feathers can also be incorporated.  Sometimes, artists will even cut or tear up paintings they have considered unsuccessful to use as collage elements.  Collage can encompass mixed media.  You can draw, paint or stamp on your collage.  The excitement of collage is that you are only limited by your own imagination!

Keep scissors, glue, hot glue, a pencil, ruler, a paintbrush and shellac spray nearby.  If it is important to you that your collage survives the test of time, you'll need to use archival materials.  Once your supplies have been collected, you are ready to begin.  This is the fun part!  Prepare you base by cutting it to your desired size and shape, and then prime it or paint it the color of your choice.  Use scissors to cut out papers, fabrics and other materials for the collage.  Tearing paper also works well as the random, deckled edge has a different look than cutouts.  Experiment with varied textures, colors, words, images and arrangements.

Once you have planned out your design, you are ready to glue each piece onto the base.  Use glues that are appropriate for the materials you are using.  For example, rubber cement is a good adhesive for paper because it won't cause the paper to wrinkle.  Hot glue can be used for thicker objects.  If some of the collage items aren't sticking properly when glued, a diluted glue mixture of 1 part white glue and 3 parts water can be used to cover the surface of the finished collage.  An additional option is to apply a coat of shellac as a sealant once the collage has dried completely.  Your collage is complete.  Frame it, hang it on your wall or give it away as a unique gift.  Above all else, have fun discovering your inner artist!

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