When thinking about collage, the first thing that pops into many heads is that collage is a paper craft. Certainly many wonderful pieces of collage art and craft are created using paper. However, collage technically involves combining any type of material that is the same. Therefore, in addition to paper collage artists can use other raw materials such as fabric, metal or wood. Collage using a mixture of materials is referred to as 'assemblage'.
Collage or assemblage requires no special tools or training making it a favorite of novice artists and crafters. However, once you master the basics of this craft, it can be elevated to a true art form. Here's your primer on getting started in collage and assemblage.
Required Arts and Crafts Materials for Collage
Your lighter-weight basics are paper and fabric. The sky's the limit with paper selection. Many collage artists rip pictures from magazines, take their own pictures or buy recycled or antique paper. Other possibilities are wrapping paper, greeting cards and product labels.
In addition to buying new fabric, consider purchasing vintage clothing, kimonos or bedding. It's also very rewarding to do the surface design yourself on yardage of fresh white silk or cotton. You could also design the fabric and have yardage printed for you. Fabric collage looks more interesting when the fabric looks lived-in so don't be afraid to rip, poke holes or otherwise distress new fabric.
Required Arts and Crafts Supplies for Paper Collage
Supplies include glue, brushes, sizing, primer and mounting board. Always size your mounting board prior to laying out your design. Many collage artists use gesso for sizing. You can also use diluted white glue.
Besides being a great primer, the old reliable white glue you used in art class as a child is a fine adhesive. Also recommended is acrylic polymer, which will impart a shiny polished look to your collage piece. Adhesive is usually mixed 1 part water to 1 part glue. However, check the instructions for the particular adhesive product you are using. Experimentation is helpful as well.
You'll also need your surface (mounting board) to which you'll be gluing your design. Canvas works well - especially if you anticipate augmenting the design with some paint. Other suggestions are plywood (cheap, cheap, cheap) or any other type of wood or particleboard. Mounting boards for paper collage can be 1/8 inch wide. For fabric collages, it's best to have a mounting board that is at least ¼ inch in width.
Resources for the Collage Artist or Crafter
Check out my collage resource page. I highly recommend subscribing to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. My resource page also includes links to free resources for budding collage artists.
Famous Artists Incorporating Collage into Their Artwork
Pablo Picasso used collage starting the evolution of this craft into a serious form of art. Henri Matisse and Georges Braque did as well. The image on this page is a collage by contemporary artist Fred Tomaselli.