The Making of our Paper Collages

Untold hours are spent gathering old papers for our original paper collages, some of these dating as far as the late 1800s. But where does the creation process first begin?

All collages are created on wood panels. The first step in the process is creating an underlayer of papers. This base layer, adhered to the wood panel, often includes pages from old songbooks, hymnals, or heavily typographic material. The background is then whitewashed with acrylic paint while allowing details of the collage underlayer to peek through the painted surface. Here you can see musical notes from the songbook pages subtly visible in the background:

The white backgrounds vary as far as the amount of collage detail allowed to show through, sometimes less...

And sometimes more (seen below). Customers are welcome to express their input for the amount of detail showing through in the background when commissioning a collage.

We're also exploring alternatives to the stark white background, like creamy linen washes, light blues (as with the Red-tailed Hawk collage below), and even a black background with bright, neon paper colors.

The background is the only part of the finished collage that is painted; all the other colors in the composition are the actual colors of the vintage papers. This search, selection, and sorting of papers by color is another time-intensive part of the collage making process:

After the background is finished, preparatory sketches are prepared and, sometimes for commissions, watercolor mock-ups painted:

Each and every piece of paper is cut by hand with a regular ol' pair of scissors, even the reflection of light in a figure's eye or smallest beaded detail of his clothing:

Once the collage has been completed, the piece is coated with a subtle, archival matte finish produced by a company that specializes in products for collage artists and then finished with a frame hand-built from reclaimed wood or salvaged metal. Many of the frames include decorative accents which are constructed, you guessed it, by hand-cutting metal:

Then off to our next art fair the collage goes: