Adventures in Mixed Media Collage

Raise your hands if you are totally psyched about what is happening in today’s arts and crafts world!


Mixed Media Shrine Photo Credit: Mark Montano

Mixed Media Shrine
Photo Credit: Mark Montano

What has gotten me so excited – the rise of Mixed Media Collage!

I have a confession to make, even though I work mainly in the art glass world – I am so the closet Mixed Media Collage junkie! No wonder, my love of combining tiny pieces of tesserae to create mosaics translates perfectly to combining layers of mixed media to create a similar effect.

Mixed Media Collage brings so many techniques together to create wonderful masterpieces. It’s all about the layering and composition. And it teaches us so much about what looks “right” and what doesn’t.

Now mind you, I said I was a junkie, not an expert! But I would like to share with you my addiction and the method to my madness or

Mixed Media Collage using paper money and coins on a KraftyBlok

Mixed Media Collage using paper money and coins on a KraftyBlok

the madness to my method.

To begin creating a collage you usually start with a sturdy backing, or substrate to create the foundation for your work. For a mixed media art collage, this may be a canvas, a piece of cardboard, a piece of wood, a page of an altered book or my favorite – a sheet of metal. Just make sure it is sturdy enough to support what you have in mind – or you just might lose your mind.

Now for the background! There are many ways a mixed media collage background can be created. You can use paint, vintage papers, old pages from books, stamping and stenciling, crumbled craft paper or newspaper; use them alone or conjunction with each other to create interest. Some of it may fade into the background as you layer; other bits will peak through. I love layering, then using sandpaper to scrub away areas – I call it the peek-a-boo effect! When layering paints to create a background, take your time and allow layers to dry once blended. As a junkie, I have to admit sometimes I overdose on background layering – I need rehab or a sponsor to help me know when to say when!

So many embellishments so little space! Vintage images, photos, found objects, fabric, lace, wording and texting, eyelets, buttons,

Upcycled Mixed Media Using Paint, Metal, Glass and Wood

Upcycled Mixed Media Using Paint, Metal, Glass and Wood

beads, shells, pieces of wood, metal, glass tile, wire, fabric, bottoms of glass bottles, if it can be glued it can be used, that’s my motto! This is where the Precision 2000 comes in handy. Small enough to fit on my drafting table, this little saw will cut just about anything. Using this saw,  I’ve even cut a book right down the middle. It has become this junkie’s habit!

But wait don’t glue anything! Stage your elements first, then walk away, things look a lot different in the morning or a couple hours later! This is the stage where I usually get a glass of wine or a cup of awesome Coffee Emporium Joe (or what I call “steaming nirvana”) and take a creative break!

Once you are in love with your layout, consider how you are going to attach your elements to your mixed media artwork. Adhesives of different strengths are available depending on what you are attaching. If the item is particularly bulky, consider wiring or tying it into the piece. This adds visual richness and takes the pressure off the adhesive.

Once the piece is finished, you can stand back and admire your work and have another glass of wine or if you are like me start a new one…


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