Thursday, March 7, 2013

Made It - Abracadabra Collage

Hello! Recently I checked Mixed-Media Paint Box - Weekly Projects for a Year of Creative Exploration out of the library. This volume is a compilation of projects taken from previously-published books by various artists. Although I wouldn't be likely to do all of the projects if I actually owned the book, there were many interesting ideas in it. 

One such idea was the Abracadabra Collage, from Sally Jean Alexander's book Pretty Little Things. Similar in method to my job jar, an abracadraba collage is made by drawing various task tags randomly, such as paint, draw, stamp, text, photograph, and so on - you get the idea. It was also suggested that people could come up with their own tasks, so I chose fabric - as in adding a piece of fabric to my collage. 

In some cases, Alexander is vague in how a task should be performed, such as for "write": "Write anything...any..writing utensil...". She does go on to suggest misspellings, foreign language and poor penmanship. 

(For the record, I wrote a couple of sentences around the edge of my collage in pencil; the sentences were from an article in a vintage Farm Journal magazine.)

But when it comes to "text", Alexander has detailed instructions about how this task should be performed - tearing one page from an old book (I chose a vintage book of overly-dramatic safety tips for children) and cutting from it in three different but very specific ways. 

Followed to the letter, the project does require a wide variety of arts and craft supplies - all of which are common enough but would be expensive if purchased at one time to make the collage. Due to my crafty nature and also because our daughter and I have taken some art classes, I had the supplies already on hand. But I think the project would still turn out fine if a smaller number of supplies were used. (and using a lesser variety would probably make this a quicker project for kids!)

Alexander suggests using a piece of cardstock, watercolor paper or canvas for the collage base (she does not specify what size). Well, I had a number of 9x12 chalkboards (they'd probably come from a classroom) I'd purchased from a thrift store for 79c apiece. I had bought them for this very purpose, to use in collage work. 

So I sanded one of these chalkboards, then added a coating of gesso:

Many steps later, this is how my collage turned out:

And here's a close-up:

The close-up shows some of the text I'd used, plus the tasks of adding paint, writing, magazine, drawing, stamping, and pastels. 

Overall, it's not bad for a first effort. I ended up being the least happy with the way I'd added paper. That was the second task I drew, for which I tore pieces of a decorative paper and randomly glued them to the painted chalkboard ("paint" was the first task I did). I think the collage would have turned out better had I glued the paper pieces on in a more specific way - for example, one long piece to cover a lengthwise section of the chalkboard. Since it was so early on in the design process, I assumed that the paper would end up blending in better than it ended up doing. 

I tried to make those paper pieces look more interesting by writing on them, but they still just look like pieces of paper glued on. 

Oh well, it was my first time doing this. I have more chalkboards waiting in the wings, so if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

If you'd like to make your own abracadabra collage, I found simplified directions HERE . (in the book, Alexander gives suggestions and/or specific instructions on how to do each task). 

If you do this project, have fun! In spite of not liking everything about how my collage turned out, I enjoyed the process.


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