The Versatility of Collage: Part I

I am fascinated with collages.  Over the last several years I have tried a variety of them—paper, fabric, and digitized images—and with each, I have felt an exhilarating sense of creativity and ability to create texture and movement with color and various images.

According to the dictionary, a collage is a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric onto a backing.  

As an art form, collages are simply the most versatile art around, and I have developed several methods that work well for both my fabric as well as my digital art.

Fabric Collages

I love the process of creating fabric collages.  In my opinion, who wouldn’t love sitting at one’s work table and simply applying snippets of fabric and/or paper to a background?  Just like being back in grade school.  It’s a great way to use scraps, and most pieces seem to just “go together.”  They almost create themselves.  Quick and easy.  And I love quick and easy!

Here is an example of a wall hanging I created using my “simplified” method.  I used this piece as a sample for the class I was preparing to teach—Digital Surface Design—at The Stitchin’ Post in Sisters.


I got started creating collages with fabric after taking a class last year from the talented Valerie Goodwin on how she created her innovative art quilt maps.  Although I loved the results of her method, I wanted to simplify it.  While Valerie uses crinoline for her backings, I tried several ideas but settled on muslin because it is cheap, flexible, and can easily be stitched together to create larger pieces.  I then simply stick bits and pieces of fabric on the muslin with a glue stick, after which I use my machine’s wide assortment of decorative stitches to sew the seams together.  Works great, and I love the end result, which can be colorful and full of visual texture.  The stitching of my class sample clearly shows the stitching used in the fabric wall hanging.  I then created the usual “quilt sandwich” and quilted with a grid–which as it turns out is a favorite.

Paper Collages

I got interested a couple of years ago in creating paper collages as part of a mixed media kick.  One technique has often lost out in favor of another as I have worked my way through experimenting with various surface design techniques.  I’ve used a variety of paper products such as scrapbook papers plus papers I created myself with acrylic paints or a gel plate to make up paper collages.  I love the versatility as well as the spontaneity of the process.  Obviously, the results can be endless as well as versatile.

How to Use

To me, the process of creating a collage is much like putting a quilt together—but much easier because it is very forgiving.  What might be viewed as mistakes can easily be corrected by simply covering it up, whereas with fabric, one must take out or cut out the stitching. But because I love textiles, almost everything I do or create is done so with fabric in mind.

Once I finished my first paper collage I photographed it with my phone and on a lark ended up printing it on fabric.  I liked the results of that so much that I decided that what I would do for a couple of upcoming classes would be to make my own fabric based on collage work. The elongated image is a photo of the collage I printed to fabric with my home printer.  I subsequently quilted it, thinking it might ultimately be framed or faced and used as a wall hanging.  The other two collages I printed onto fabric and used as original fabric for a couple of quilts I had planned for a class.  The pieces can be seen scattered through several of my quilts in my gallery.  The paper collages turned out to be excellent resources for a multitude of projects, and remain as such, for once created, the use in projects is surely endless.


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4 thoughts on “The Versatility of Collage: Part I”

  1. Nicely-shared insight as to how/why you do what you do. One point of difference – collage does not come “quick and easy” to everyone, like me. However, you my friend, have mastered this artform.
    So how do you like the writing side of having your own website?

  2. Thank you for your comment, Debi. I’m fine with the “writing side” once I get something going but most especially finished! Sometimes it’s tough to muster up both the discipline as well as come up with ideas. Suggestions welcome!

  3. I share your love of collage, and appreciate how you use the digital process. That’s an avenue I haven’t ventured into yet!

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