A Shopping List for the Collage Artist

Artist Arranging Pieces of Painting

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When thinking about doing a collage, the first thing that might pop into numerous heads is that collage is a paper craft. Indeed, many beautiful pieces of collage art and craft are created using paper. However, collage involves combining any material that is the same.

Therefore, in addition to paper, collage artists can use other raw materials. These may include such items as fabric, metal, or wood. Collage using a mixture of materials is referred to as "assemblage" or "mixed media."

Collage or assemblage requires no special tools or training, and this makes it a favorite of novice artists and crafters. However, once you master the basics of this craft, it can be elevated to a true art form. Here's your primer on getting started in collage and assemblage.

Required Materials for Collage

Your lighter-weight basics are paper and fabric, and the sky's the limit with paper selection. Many collage artists rip pictures from magazines, take their own pictures, or buy recycled or antique paper. Other possibilities are wrapping paper, greeting cards, and product labels.

In addition to buying new fabric, consider purchasing vintage clothing, kimonos, or bedding. It's gratifying to do the surface design yourself on yardage of fresh white silk or cotton. You could also design the fabric and have yardage printed for you.

Fabric collage looks more interesting when the fabric looks lived-in. Don't be afraid to rip, poke holes, or otherwise distress new fabric.

Required Supplies for Paper Collage

The essential supplies you will need for collage include glue, brushes, sizing, primer, and mounting board. It's important always to size your mounting board before laying out your design to prepare (or prime) the surface. Many collage artists use gesso for sizing. You can also use diluted white glue.

Besides being a great primer, that old, reliable white glue, you used in art class as a child is a fine adhesive. Another recommendation is an acrylic polymer, which will impart a shiny, polished look to your collage piece.

An adhesive is usually mixed at a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part glue. However, check the instructions for the particular adhesive product you are using. Experimentation is helpful as well.

You'll also need your surface (mounting board) to which you'll be gluing your design. Canvas works well, especially if you anticipate augmenting the design with some paint. However, think about the weight of your work because if it's too heavy, the canvas will stretch and sag. One way to get around this is to wrap board with canvas to reinforce it.

Other suggestions are plywood (a great cheap option) or any other type of wood or particleboard. Mounting boards for paper collage can be 1/8-inch wide. For fabric collages, it's best to have a mounting board that is at least 1/4-inch in width.

Resources and Inspiration for Collage

Paper magazines are not out of fashion, nor should they be reserved for your collage. One of the best resources for any budding collage artist or crafter is Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. You will find countless ideas, tips, and tricks for inspiration.

Also, it's a good idea to explore the work of famous artists who worked in collage. Pablo Picasso used collage in his Synthetic Cubism period. His work helped the evolution of this craft into a serious form of art. Henri Matisse and Georges Braque did as well.

Many contemporary artists, such as Fred Tomaselli, continue to work in collage. The boundaries of this medium are endless, and you will find many artists using some unusual materials.