The symbolism of the spiral shape mingled with water carries the power to flow and change. This important concept of transitioning from one stage of life to another with grace and dignity has been a recurring theme in my work these past few months.
During a particularly rough patch as my father was in hospice care, I made this simple — almost childlike — mixed-media collage to represent my subconscious desire to jump aboard a small boat all alone and sail away to some place beautiful and blue and quiet where I didn’t have to make decisions.
As I was gluing the papers to the canvas, my mind was thinking about the sea air and warm sun on my face. At this moment, making art to soothe my soul provided a brief respite and a small space to breathe. The physical act of building this collage made it possible to express my desires, fears, concerns in an emotionally healthy way.
Even when doing paper-based art, my love of wire and metal shines through. The spiral waves and free form wire sun are exactly what’s needed to take my work from a two-dimensional canvas to a three-dimensional mixed-media piece. Beeswax used as a sealer provides not only attachment of wire to paper, but also gives my collage a hazy, dreamy feel that matched my thoughts as I was working.
Here are the steps I used to make this piece. Hopefully the techniques/idea will give you a jumping off point to create a lovely end of summer collage for your art room.
“Take Me Away” collage
Tools and Materials:
- 12 x 12 canvas
- Natural beeswax
- Clean tuna can
- 2 inch chip brush (disposable) or old paintbrush
- Electric griddle or some method to melt wax
- 16 gauge wire. I used bronze but you can use silver, colored or copper wire
- Round nose pliers
- Flat nose or chain nose pliers
- Wire snips
- Old paintbrush
- Scraps of patterned paper
- Caran d’Ache Neocolor Artists’ crayons in black
- Old poetry book
- Patterned washi tape
- Paper doilies
Step 1. Use scissors to cut a piece of patterned background paper to represent the sky in this summer on the water collage and glue to canvas using matte medium.
Step 2. Cut out a piece of patterned wave paper or make your own wave shape from scrapbook paper and adhere to canvas. Add additional ephemera as desired. (Here I used a paper doily to represent a frothy wave).
Step 3. Cut the shape of a boat using scissors, as well as a triangle for the sail. Cut rectangle strips for the mast and a circle for the sun. Adhere with matte medium. Continue placing ephemera to your liking. I added a poem, as well a vintage tag and a few strips of patterned washi tape. Let dry.
Step 4. Melt beeswax and use and old paintbrush to apply wax to surface. Work quickly as wax dries quickly. Be sure to place more wax in the areas where you want to embed your spirals. You will be using the wax as the “glue” or adhesion.
Step 5: Use a heat craft iron to smooth out the wax in various areas that needs it. Tip: If you don’t have a craft iron, you can also use a craft heat gun to blow hot air onto the wax and re-melt it to smooth it out. Be careful, as it melts quickly.
Step 6. Melt more beeswax into area of the collage where you may wish to place additional dimensional items. Here is was to embed some jute into the collage to reference sailor’s knots and lashing. If you have areas of your college where the wax seeped into the paper and caused discoloration, you can continue to add more bits of paper. I used patterned tissue paper as in these areas.
Here’s a few more detail shots of the college canvas –
Here;s wishing you an Artful weekend!