Collage Composition Tricks
At the request of Pat Q in a comment on a previous post, I am going to describe how I determine the edges of my collages. I’ll show two of my favorite ways. In addition, I’d like to show you a way to make more interesting compositions.
With many of my collages, an irregular edge is more compatible with the materials and the feel of the piece, such as when I’m using torn, weathered, and hand made papers. In that situation, I compose the collage on paper that is much larger than I want the main composition to be, so that I’ll have a nice wide border and control my standard overall dimensions.
First I will draw very light pencil lines the placement and size of the desired finished collage right on top of the backing paper , then glue down my pieces just beyond the drawn measurements, no more than maybe 1/16 of an inch. That way the lines won’t show, but I can stay within my parameters. These end up looking like this:
But I sometimes like collages with clean, crisp edges, so they can then be mounted on larger paper. Here’s what that process looks like:
I keep different sizes of clear plexi on hand to use in projects like this. You’ll soon see why. You can buy plexi in small sheets and cut it down to size yourself (very easy!) or you can have the store cut it for you. This one is 4 inches square. I’ve pre-cut some pieces of lightweight plain paper that will serve as my basic backs for the small collages. They are slightly larger than the plexi, about 1/8″ bigger on each side. I will glue my basic collage elements and papers to one of these pre-cut squares, ignoring the outer edge, like this:
I’m just choosing interesting papers and juxtapositions at this stage. If you work this way, you will get some surprising and dynamic compositions.
Adding more papers . . .
And this is the back of the basic collage after I’ve completely covered the front:
Now I will trim off the excess papers to the edge of the white paper square.
Then I will glue the finished collage to a nice heavy paper backing, using a stiff glue that won’t cause it to wrinkle, such as heavy acrylic gel. You can also mount it using a heat activated fabric adhesive, such as WonderUnder or Stitch Witchery.
And voila! My finished collage with a nice wide border.
Update: I have a feeling there will be additional Q&A about this post, so please read through the comments too. If an additional question that you’ve thought of requires a lot of further explanation, I’ll include my answer in a future post to make sure everyone sees it.