Recently I was making several small collaged artist trading cards (ATCs) to give as gifts. As usual, I was under a time crunch. So I said to myself, what is the most efficient way to make a collage in multiples?
1. Use a background you already have. You know those multilayered practice journal pages and experiments in gel printing that didn't make the final cut? They make perfect backgrounds. Never throw out a "mistake" because it can always be recycled into something else.
2. Choose a theme. If you stick to one theme for your focal point or collage designs, you can brainstorm a bunch of ideas at once and your mind won't be as likely to wander from the task at hand. You'll also need fewer supplies. For example, if "circles" is your theme, you can stitch circles, use a bottle cap as a stamp, and so on.
3. Limit your color palette. Again, this saves time spent on decision making. If the color palette is red and white, then you just need to pull out papers, fabrics, ephemera, inks, etc. that are in those colors and run with it. It will all "go," and there will be no need to dither over whether the gold ink goes better with the purple print or the black-and-white woodcut pattern.
4. Cut multiples. Whether it's ATCs, heart shapes for several fabric collage pillows, or any other theme where you are creating en masse, cut them all at once. In other words, cut out all your 2½" x 3½" pieces from your background for ATCs in one sitting, all your heart shapes (if you have punch for this, so much the better), all your focal images, etc.
5. Fake it. So, let's say you want to use old text but you don't have time to go searching through all your vintage books looking for the right words and phrases. Go to your computer, type the words and phrases you want using an old-fashioned font and print them out on yellowed paper. If you don't have yellowed paper, age white paper with a little walnut ink or even tea or coffee. Let the paper dry thoroughly before running it through the printer. You can fake it by using copyright-free digital collage sheets, too.
6. Glue it down. This is a mantra I learned from Anahata Katkin. Once you decide where you want something to go in your collage, just reach for your gel medium and glue it down. Trust your instincts. It's much faster than second-guessing yourself.
One of the benefits of working in this efficient manner is that you can break down the process into small chunks of time. For example, take 30 minutes to pull out and cut backgrounds one day, print and cut text another day, and so on.
Now that you have a plan, you're probably eager to make a bunch of quick and easy art. We have plenty of collage inspiration in the Cloth Paper Scissors shop, such as our downloadable eBook One-Hour Gifts: 10 Fun Mixed-Media and Fabric Art Projects.
P.S. Do you have a quick collage tip? Share it in the comments section below.