Thursday, December 3, 2009

Collage Placemats Tutorial

Ok - enough of the philosophical. Time to move on to the fun stuff. I am starting out with a simple but thoughtful craft that you can do on your own or have your kids participate. It is inexpensive and it might just be the kind of project that gets you into the Creative Zone so that you will be willing to try some others.

Collage place mats can be simple or you can get elaborate. Totally up to you. You can make a set of generic looking ones or personalize them for a specific person.

Here is how you do it:
  1. Collect materials for your collage, and find inspiration in them.
    • Traditional collage materials include scraps of paper and other flat materials: newspaper and magazine clippings, shopping bags, photographs (or photocopies of photographs), wallpaper, and foil.
    • Objects such as string, beads, feathers, and fabric are OK but you don't want your collage to be bumpy so try to stick with items that lay flat..
    • Collage may encompass images, text, solid colors, or a mixture of these. You may want a recognizable image or word, or simply a suggestion, feel, color, or texture.
    • Use what you have. Start from available materials and work out from there.
    • Create what you don't have. Since collage is an assemblage or blend of elements, it lends itself well to mixed media. You could paint, draw, stamp, or stencil in between the elements you find, or cover over them.
    • Don't rule out unusual materials, like sandpaper, blurry photographs, etc. The place mat below is made from fabric scraps.

  2. Choose a base for your collage. The base is usually flat paper or poster board because these are easiest to work with.
    • The background does not have to be white, and it does not have to be plain. The background could include a page from a magazine or book, a large photograph, or a page of text. Paint or draw on it, or cover over it with anything that glue will stick to.
  3. Prepare the base by cutting the base to the desired size and shape. I usually go with 16x12" Add any decorations or embellishments you want to the background.
  4. Use scissors or an X-acto knife to cut out pieces for your collage. Try cutting your scraps into unusual shapes, cutting out words or letters from a variety of sources to make phrases on your collage, or cutting different pieces so that they fit together.
    • Pick images that reflect the recipients or make a set that are tied together with a theme. I make 4 for our family and each one has our name and a photo of us. I add silly hats, hair and animal bodies to our faces. I also include things that interest us. This year, Tim has a surf theme but last year it was all about mountain biking.
    • A cutting mat helps protect your table and helps make smooth cuts, or cut on top of a scrap of cardboard or an old magazine.
    • Cut out a whole picture, an identifiable part, or just enough to evoke texture, color, or feeling.
    • Cut different shapes for both words and images. Experiment with round and straight edges, regular and irregular shapes.
  5. Try tearing materials too. The rough, random edges give parts of your collage a different character than cutouts.
  6. Arrange the items on your background. You can arrange the whole thing, then glue, or you can arrange as you go if you prefer a more spontaneous approach.
    • Play with the juxtaposition of different elements and don't be afraid to make this part a messy process. Serendipity may hand you something interesting that you hadn't thought of.
  7. Apply glue to each item and carefully but firmly press it down. Then, use your finger to rub it flat from the inside to the edges. Continue this process with each piece, overlapping pieces if you wish, until you are finished.
    • Glue underneath pieces before pieces on top.
    • You don’t have to cover the whole surface if you don’t want to, You can fold or crumple pieces of paper to get interesting textures and reliefs.
  8. Let the finished collage dry completely. Depending on the glue(s) you used, you may need to let the collage dry for a few hours or more than a day.
  9. Add any finishing touches. Do you want to apply a thin layer of paint or write or stamp over parts of it? Do you want to add textures, such as scratches?
  10. Laminate the collage -I bring it to Kinkos. The do a great job and it only costs a couple bucks. I have an old Xyron with laminate that I bought solely for this purpose but it isn't firm enough and it peels over time. Kinko's laminate can be wipes with a sponge again and again without it affecting the laminate.
  11. Ta-Dah! - you are all done. Ok now for the wrapping because these are shaped weird. Wrap it in the funny papers, go to the thrift store and buy a couple old record albums, then use the 2 sleeves as a "box" Tape them together and give as is or wrap them up with newspaper, magazines, or tuck them in a reuseable grocery bag...

1 comment:

  1. love this idea. love your your hybrid handmade/store bought prezzies philosophy! love you!