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Creating Collages
by Esther Sisler

One of the many wonderful things that mail artists (also known as rubber stampers) do is create collage cards. A collage is defined as an abstract composition made by utilizing the textures of various commonplace substances, such as newspapers, sand, etc., glued on a flat ground. That is a very formal way of stating that a collage is whatever you want it to be, made with whatever your hand lands on or can glue in some way to a piece of cardstock.

The difference between a layered card and a collage is that the collage is more free form, less bound by straight edges and objects which are perfectly centered. Donít simply line things up next to each other. A collage has dimension, depth, and imagination. There are several areas to consider when making a collage card. Theme, energy, color.





A collage card should have all unified elements. If making a travel collage for example, you might want to include sandpaper as one layer, small sea shells, rubberstamped images of beach umbrellas, a piece of a map cut out with fancy edge scissors. Or you might want to include a passport stamp, a suitcase, and a postage stamp. If youíre making a birthday card, you might even glue a real candle on a layer of mulberry paper, or stamp a cake on corrugated paper.


Artists are taught early in their schooling that energy is shown by upward movements. On a collage, if you want to show a high energy idea, make the focus of the card go from lower left to upper right. You can do this by positioning a stamp at an angle. If youíre making an Egyptian collage, for example, stamp an Egyptian Queen stamp with her feet angled to the lower left. Add a charm in the upper right corner, or melt a bit of sealing wax and stamp a hieroglyph in it. If you want your card to convey motion as well as energy, put double sided sticky foam in a square on the upper corner, fill the interior of the square with confetti or small beads or sand. Whatever is appropriate to the theme, and place vellum or any stiff transparent paper over the top.


The primary colors, especially yellow, attract oneís eyes first. So you can use color very effectively in a collage. Put something, anything, that is a primary color as the focal point, and build your collage around that focus. If you look at a color wheel, you will get a quick fix on which colors are going to work together and which will not. Darker colors will help to create a somber "feel" to a collage, and bright colors will cheer the observer up. If you want to use dark colors and still have a cheerful card, layer on some bright colors.

It is a good idea to keep the cool colors such as lilac together, and the warm colors such as orange together. This fits right in with keeping a common theme throughout the card. You wouldnít want to put an orange stamped peach tree with a stamped image of Stonehenge on a silver card. Or maybe you would. The most important thing is to create something that satisfies you.

There are a lot of materials which can be used for collages, and some of them might not have occurred to you (yet). How about fabric swatches? Paint chip samples? Play money? Shelf liner? Exotic thread? Quilling paper? Liquid Applique? Dried flowers? Dials or gears from a broken watch? A photograph that you donít mind cutting up? Buttons? Junk jewelry? Broken pieces of crayon?

As you can tell, with collages anything goes. Well, almost anything. Remember that youíre creating a work of art that will be around for generations to admire, and donít use anything that will spoil, or attract insects.