Friday, August 29, 2008

Art du Scrap

Victorian etchings. Old letters from Paris. Canceled stamps from Istanbul. Discolored paper with a bit disintegrating tape. Torn maps and fragile wallpaper. Chinese newspapers and a Dutch bible.

I love the materials of collage.

Nothing fuels my creativity like a pile of old paper. There’s something about the texture…how beautifully and easily aged paper tears…the fact that it must have meant something to someone to still be here 100 years later.

{bike collage using vintage papers & image transfer}

I was happy to discover Jonathan Talbot’s book Collage: A New Approach a couple of years ago. It brought about an end to the fits and hair-pulling over the ever-present, glue-induced wrinkles in my paper collages. Jonathan teaches a method that uses acrylic medium. In a nutshell, you coat both sides of your collage pieces with the medium, let it dry, and then use a tacking iron and Jonathan's special "release paper" to adhere the pieces to mat board, wood, etc.

{Mixed media collage}

Because it’s important to me to retain the texture and patina of my collage materials, I use an alternative method he mentions in his book. I coat the backs of the paper pieces with a thick layer of PVA glue, let it dry, and use the heat sealing technique. It works great!

Although this “glue-less” method does result in a more polished finished product, it is more time consuming. Usually I do the collage layout before the pieces have been coated with glue. They are easier to position and play with in their au naturale state before the glue backing makes them stiff. I snap a digital photo to help me remember how to put my composition back together and then commence with preparing the pieces for permanent positioning.

{collage in process}

More often than not, I do not reassemble and complete the collage until the next day. It is possible to speed up the drying time by using a hairdryer. So, you have to be ok with delayed gratification to use this technique. Sometimes this is fine for me – gives me time to further play with and rework the collage in my mind. However, there are days when I lose steam and don’t have my heart into completing the piece 24 hours later. I try to do it anyway, though.

If you’re in Portland, you can pick up all the supplies needed for this technique at Art Media. Take a browse through Jonathan’s book before you make your purchases, as there is much more to know than the little bit I’ve written here.