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Friday, December 4, 2009

Snail Mail Collaging

SNAIL MAIL ART is by nature collage. Even if it starts as a straight painting, drawing or piece of writing it becomes a collage when addresses, postmarks and stamps are added. Many of the CIRCLE participants are professional artists and writers and  need no instruction, I have however had several people ask for advice. This is a list of ideas on making collage that you might find helpful in making your snail mail.
GROUNDS - A ground is the surface you work on. It canbe a piece of paper, cardboard or a piece of wood (It can be paper, heavy is better, watercolor or printmaking quality is good, or wood or metal or some object you find that you can glue and paint on.
Chose images, text or textures that appeal to you and work together visually.
Try having a limited color pallette, a theme or repeating images that relate to one another in a visual way.
Find patterns or textures that go with images or text. What you do can look random but still carry a message or idea.
JUXTAPOSITION A great collage is a juxtaposition of images, ideas, and formal elements of art (color, shape, line,texture, space and arrangement) A great juxtaposition occurs when two images or textures or surfaces that have had nothing to do with each other are pushed up against each other to create a new and surprising (hopefully pleasing ) relationship. Collaborations encourage great juxtaposition. Allow room and possiblity for your collaborator.
EXPERIMENT  Collage provides great opportunity for experimentation. Try arrangements of  color, space, texture,ahapes and text .
Remember Design 2-D 101-think about repitition, texture, contrast, unity and unity. Make a piece that is visually appealing. Advertising text and images can sometimes be very effective in a  funky or irreverent way but use in moderation and discrimination as you would use on any other image. Do the colors and shapes work together, is there an interesting juxtaposition of text and image, texture and color etc? What makes this different from looking at a regular ad?
Too many advertisements or labels thrown together with cliches and worn out symbols can be a disaster.  Lay out your elements first and try to avoid visual clutter and text made up of cliches.  
 ELECTRONIC IMAGING If you enjoy image editing and have the technical know-how, try your layout on a computer You have the ability to change scale, transparency, clarity, tone color, and many other qualities of images you manipulate electronically. You can also combine digital and paper image editing by printing edited images to include in a paper collage.
 GELS AND GLUES I almost always use Acrylic gel as my gluing agent. You can use it straight from the jar or you can dilute it, apply with a clean brush to your ground, water color paper is my ground of choice. After applying gel to the paper then attach your cut or torn collage elements to it. Use the brush again and go over the top of the adhered image. If the paper begins to buckle use your fingers to smooth it out. Fabric, wallpaper, rice paper, origami and craft papers and scraps of texture such as sandpaper or pieces of straw or leaves all make good collage pieces.
If you do not have Acrylic Gel you can use regular white glue such as Elmers. Dilute the glue so it is brushable and use as described above. If the materials on your collage do not stick perfectly after gluing, you can brush a diluted glue mixture (about 3 parts water to 1 part glue) over the whole collage once it is finished. You can also use this technique to seal the collage.
The glue you use depends on the materials you're gluing. Some glues simply won’t hold certain materials, and some very strong glues may quickly damage your collage pieces. Rubber cement is great for some types of paper, super glue may be necessary for non absorbent pieces such as plastics or vynils. To determine the correct glue read the containers.
The rule of thumb for adhesives is that anything absorbent will stick with PVA glue (Elmers) or wood glue. Anything slick such as plastic or glass will require another type glue. Acrylic gel will work for all paper and for many other materials and it is easy to tint with acrylic paint to make a glaze.
GLAZING Covering your entire collage with an acrylic glaze can be an effective way to give your piece continuity. If you find that the images just do not relate or you have too much variety  try mixing a small amount of paint  with a larger amount of Acrylic gel. Paint it ove r the entire collage and allow to dry.
SELF CRITIQUE After experimentation take time to assess the piece for balance and coherence. Does it hold together as a piece? Are the images related in some way? Is there an interesting juxtapostition of texture, shape, color or line?
CONSIDER YOUR COLLABORATOR Maybe m ost of all because this piece is meant to be collaborative you need to remember not to "FINISH" it, This is a very tricky thing to  do especially for artists who are used to trying to achieve a finished complete look. Leave some breathing room ,s omethng not quite done, something for your collaborator to work with. Not doing so may leave the collaborator with no other choice than to obliterate some of your work. 
REMEMBER THE STAMPS After  you finish your collage you will have to afix an address, return address and stamps. Consider these spaces for these elements as you work.

 ENJOY  the process and result and most of all finding your returned piece of snail mail art in your mailbox.

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