Make a Collage with Holiday Leftovers

erin patridge collage
Cinnamon sticks add a linear element in this
found object collage by Erin Partridge.

cate pratoI love Thanksgiving, and not just because there is pumpkin pie.

There is the meal itself, which I enjoy whether I am preparing it or bringing a dish (usually pumpkin pie) to someone else's house. There is the spiritual aspect of thanks and togetherness that isn't religion-specific, so everyone in America can celebrate together.

And, there is the fact that it is celebrated on Thursday, leaving me with a three-day weekend to enjoy without any more fuss. (Thanks to having Friday off.)

Rather than hit the stores, I like to use this time to hang out, start the art projects I should have started weeks before, and enjoy the leftovers. And by "leftovers," I don't just mean turkey (and pumpkin pie).

There are so many leftovers from this celebration you can use in collage art.

Let's start with the table. I am the person who embarrasses her children by going around after the meal collecting ephemera like cast-off paper place cards, ribbons used to tie the cloth napkins, and clean but wrinkled paper cocktail napkins.

found object collage
Sticks mounted on canvas with
gel medium and painted as the base for a collage.

If the event's at my house, foliage from the centerpiece is fair game, too (after the guests leave). Ditto the wrapping around the flowers or other hostess gifts guests may bring. And you can be sure I save the paper and fabric scraps left over from any decorations we made for future collage art.

Later I will separate the napkins (two-ply or three-ply) to make very sheer tissue for paper collage or decoupage. With some soft gel or heavy gel medium, plant material like sticks, leaves, and even bits of pinecones can be applied to canvas or heavy paper. The leaves may curl up a bit later, but that just adds to the texture.

The food has possibilities, too, from prep to bones. I save the cut ends of vegetables like celery and cabbage to use as stamps later (not too much laterbe sure to refrigerate).

Erin layered paint, tissue paper, and
a stamped paper image over the sticks
to make this heavily textured collage.

Cloves and cinnamon sticks can be used for texture in a collage (and they smell nice, too). And don't forget about the wishbone! Wash it, set it aside to dry, and it can be part of a collage assemblage.

If you really want to get crazyor creativeyou could save and dry the coffee grounds and tea bags. But I'd only do that in my own homeand discreetly, at that. The plant material can be mixed with gel medium and applied for texture, and dried paper teabags make lovely collage papers.

Once I've amassed my leftovers, I like to set up a table in view of the fireplace, set a cup of cocoa or glass of wine nearby, and play with my collage leftovers.

I've found the techniques Erin Partridge teaches in her Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop, Mix It Up! Paint, Collage, & Found Objects to be very useful and eye-opening. I think watching her video while I create collages with leftovers will become a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Do you use leftovers in your collages? Tell me about it in the comments section below. I'm always looking for new ideas.


Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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