Collage Stories: Inspired by Vintage Catalog Cards by Jane LaFazio

Years ago, when I was working as a teaching artist in a nearby elementary school, the library was clearing out books. Rather than grabbing the books, I took all the book registration cards. I love the consistent size and vintage look, and I knew I could use them in my artwork.

Recently, in the process of cleaning out my studio, I rediscovered the collection of library cards. Finding them was the perfect excuse to stop cleaning and start making something. This is a great project for a beginning-of-the-year studio cleanup.

Sharon White Photography
Artwork by Jane LaFazio. Photo by Sharon White Photography.

The Hundred Dresses


Library book registration cards (or facsimile)
Collage papers: dressmaking tissue, maps, old receipts, used tea bag paper, mono-printed papers, etc.
Fabric scraps
Substrate (I used an 11″ x 7″ sheet of watercolor paper.)
Glue stick
Sewing machine with free-motion capabilities
Thread (I used thread in a contrasting color.)
Embellishments (I used lace.)
Stamp-carving block and tools
Paint (I used acrylic paint.)
Cosmetic wedges

1. Select a book title from one of the library cards, one that appeals to you or implies a theme, or a visual jumping-off point. It does not have to be a literal interpretation.

2. Decide on a color story, and gather bits and bobs, scraps of papers, and fabric from your studio that fit within that scheme. (FIGURE 1)

NOTE: Based on the title, THE HUNDRED DRESSES, I gathered mono-printed and plain dress-pattern tissue, and added thread samples to the mix to further illustrate the title.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Photo by Jane LaFazio

3. Sketch a symbol or shape on cardstock that represents the chosen title, and cut it out to use as a template. I drew and cut a dress.

4. Trace the template on several different papers and fabrics, using an assortment of your scraps. I included some bits of quilted cloth. (FIGURE 2)

Figure 2
Figure 2. Photo by Jane LaFazio

5. Cut out each traced piece and place them on the substrate. Play with the arrangement, balancing the color and weight of each item on your page.

6. Once you’re pleased with the arrangement, lightly adhere each piece to the substrate with a glue stick. Let dry, and then machine stitch each one. I outlined each dress, using a thread color that coordinated with my color scheme. (FIGURE 3)

Figure 3
Figure 3. Photo by Jane LaFazio

TIP: Leave the thread tails hanging to add texture and movement to the piece.

7. Trace your template onto the library card, and add embellishments as desired. I added lace to the hem of the dress.

8. Place the card on a piece of collage paper, and stitch around the traced image, stitching through the card and tissue to attach the embellishment(s). I used mono-printed dress pattern tissue for this because I wanted to frame the card with color.

9. Using the same template, cut out another form from a different paper. I used tea bag paper. Add the new form to the library card with a glue stick, using the stitched lines as a guide.

10. Stamp over some of your pieces. I used my dress template to carve a stamp, and stamped over a few of the collaged dresses with paint. (FIGURE 5)

Left: Figure 5. Right: Figure 7.
Left: Figure 5. Right: Figure 7. Photo by Jane LaFazio

11. Add some color and texture. I used pale turquoise paint and a cosmetic wedge to stencil some birds and flowers. (FIGURE 6) I also added some free-motion stitched flowers and leaves with turquoise thread to continue the color scheme. (FIGURE 7)

Figure 6
Figure 6. Photo by Jane LaFazio

TIP: Practice free-motion stitching on watercolor paper before committing to it on your artwork.

12. Stamp the current date on the library card, and sign your name. (FIGURE 6)

Since this little art-making exercise was meant to be fun, and relatively quick, I set some rules for myself.

  1. Start with the title of the book on the library card as inspiration.
  2. Select a color scheme.
  3. Keep it simple. Use what you already have in your studio.
  4. Use a substrate in a consistent size to create a series.

I love making collages. They are serendipitous and forgiving. And, if you’re like me, you have a collection of lovely papers and scraps of fabric that are just waiting to be put together in a small collage.


Jane LaFazio, a full-time artist since 1998, truly believes she is living the life she was meant to live. She has cultivated a wide range of skills as a painter, mixed-media and quilt artist, art teacher, and blogger. She teaches workshops online and at art retreats internationally. janelafazio.com See how Jane created “The Colony of Rhode Island,” another piece inspired by her vintage library cards.

Find this, and other great features in Cloth Paper Scissors January/February 2017.



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