On February 14, a small group of female-identifying people gathered at Ludwig Berlin to make art out of a pile of magazines, glue and scissors.
With the help and support of Suzanne Wegh, I tried paper collage for the first time. What a startling process!
It was not at all like I thought it would be! It was confusing, and mysterious! I thought it would be challenging, but it was in fact quite a bit harder than it looks.
First of all, it never occurred to me that you could move the pieces of the picture around before you glued them down.
Until Suzanne explained that’s what she does! I was as startled as I was the first time someone showed me windows being minimized and moved around on a computer, in 1996. With my bricolage shadowbox projects, I glue each thing down as I go.
This idea of fluid composition broke my brain!
Then, it didn’t go the way I planned. I had some ideas, and a color scheme, and the first collage I did was actually the complete opposite of them.
I saw this greyed out pastel flower paper and wound up choosing a palette of images and materials related to it, and then making this rococo chicken being ridden by a chicken princess.
I wanted to make a Baba Yaga! What the heck??
So I decided to just go with the process, even though for someone as afraid of artistic failure as me that was pretty scary. I’m learning things I never expected to about composition, pattern and color from my bricolage and mixed media work. I can see how those things could be put to work in making collage art, but I’m a long way from being able to do it.
photo by Suzanne Wegh from Galentines Collage night Feb 14 2018
I was really amazed at how the other women could make their collages look like something so easily. I mean, make them look like resolved images. The one below, which Suzanne made, is just beautiful. You can read about her experience of our collage adventure on her Patreon here.
Collage by Suzanne Wegh Feb 14 2018
The Medusa with butterflies at the top was actually the third I made, and the only one I felt sort of resolved into an actual picture. And that expresses my style, with its beetles and jewel colors! Why is Megan Markle’s head on fire? I have no idea! It just happened!
I don’t know if I’ll try collaging again right away; it was pretty disorienting for me. But I’m so glad and proud we created a safe space for me to try it.
I mostly think of myself as a horribly lazy person who keeps terrible hours, sleeps a lot and wastes huge swathes of time every day.
But sometimes I think of myself as a highly effective person whose productivity is just really weirdly distributed.
Here are the various bricolage projects I did this month, in between building the workshop, unpacking my mixed media materials, teaching a new class, starting a new painting, and drawing.
These flies are what I call “Uplift Projects”, after David Brin’s “Uplift” series.
They’re commercially produced decorative items I bought somewhere for almost nothing and am “improving” (according to my weird personal lights). I got these awesome glitter flies for 90% off at Cost Plus after Halloween. WIP Uplift Fly on the left, completed one, with beading, Swarovski crystals, more shades of glitter and micropearls on the right.
This decoupage table originally came from Ross.
I made them give me 10% off because it had a chipped corner. I repaired the corner with epoxy clay and spraypainted the whole thing with matt fuchsia acrylic from Dupli-Color, the German spray paint company that has a special line for graffiti artists.
Then I cut out all these amazing German decoupage pieces.
These are reproductions of the decoupage elements that have been produced here since the Victorian era.
I used acrylic varnish to attach them in my weird little bug-infested way, painted the trim on the table with artist’s acrylic, and covered the decoupage with twelve coats of acrylic varnish. That actually was a pain in the ass. But worth it, I think. I’ve had the Alphonse Mucha coaster you see on top of the table since I was fourteen years old.
This dresser is a piece I got on Amazon.de through their repacking program.
You can often buy things that are brand new and perfectly good but have been returned and repacked at the warehouse for a fraction (20% in this case) of the original cost. It was stuffed all higgledy-piggledy into the box but all the (many, many) pieces were there, so I carefully assembled it.
Then I stained it with ten coats of Hazelnuss dunkelbraun stain (the equivalent of the exploding-on-Pinterest General Finishes Java Gel stain). Ten coats may sound like a lot but with water-based gel stain, the coats go on and dry so fast it’s really no hardship.
Buying handmade items directly from an artist is the one time I’m happy to pay full price.
I’ve had this table for almost twenty years- I got it at the Berkeley flea market.
It’s been spray-painted black, then pink, then black again. But this is the first time I tried making it ombré. I’m pretty thrilled with the results.
I used a deep sapphire blue, a dark forest green, and a pale celadon, all gloss finish from Dupli-Color. I built a sorta cheapass spray booth on the balcony out of boxes to paint it in.
Don’t spray paint indoors, dude. You don’t want to get what we used to call Technicolor Phlegm.
I made this little shadow box out of some ribbon roses I made for my first wedding, hoarded velvet leaves and a frame I got at the Berkeley Flea, also like 20 years ago.
I got this plaster deer head from a German eBay dealer who specializes in vintage hunting lodge taxidermy.
Taxidermy is so cheap here, Williamsburg craft beer bar owners would lose their minds. My dealer has been very kind about accepting my “Best Offers” for the most weird, kinda messed up pieces he lists.
I repaired the big chunk of missing plaster with epoxy clay, and repainted it. I left the rest of the damage ’cause I like it.
Now I’m waiting til the next time our handyman James comes over with his magic SuperStudFinder, which can detect metal and electrical wiring in the walls. Our walls have a LOT of janky old wiring in them so I like to check before I drill a great big hole for an anchor.