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Staten Island, New York, United States

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Creative Process: Making Miniature Tango Collages for Holiday Fairs

I've been spending all my energy the last two weeks, with time out for Thanksgiving, on creating collages for local holiday art fairs. I've been focusing on making tiny collages, 4"x4", using the same methods and images of tango dancing that I use in my slightly larger collages. As is always the case in any creative process, I've noticed some interesting developments.

getting small collages ready for holiday fairs in my studio
I find I really like working on this scale. When I shrink the paper lithographs (a fine art process using etching inks and xeroxes as the printing plates) down, the line details show up and I can frame them and focus the eye in a more simple way. Also, I have a tendency towards "more is more" and often get bogged down in applying multiple layers when the image isn't developing well. With the small pieces, I don't feel bad about tossing the piece aside if it's not successful. And, anyway, I can always turn it over and use the back side. I use very high quality heavy paper so that it can stand up to collaging different weights and textures of material and I prepare both sides of the paper so that it will stay as flat as possible. I learned all these collaging techniques from Miriam Shapiro when I was her studio assistant in the '80's. I'll write more about that in another blog entry.

Collages #110 and #111,  tango shoes from patterned paper
The materials I'm using for the small work has changed slightly, too. I have been collecting images and decorative papers for years.  I've had some scraps of handmade decorative papers from my friends at Four Hands Design Studios here on Staten Island http://www.sagereynolds.com/paste. The scraps are from papers often used in hand bookbinding. Sage and Colman at Four Hands have impeccable craftsmanship and color sense, so the papers are very precious. I find that the patterns in the paper, scaled to the intimacy of a book, work well in these collages. I especially had fun using my cuticle scissors to cut out tiny shoes from them, in combination with some origami paper. Okay - full disclosure - I was also influenced here by my first adventure in scrapbooking at a recent baby shower for a friend. THAT was fun - sitting in a room surrounded by beautiful patterned papers and new artmaking tools, all available for us to play with. I mean, all available for us to create a meaningful gift for our friend.
Collage #120, using envelope

I have another friend, Phyllis Forman, who makes the most exuberant and original collages and assemblages, all from discarded materials. She has been using her junk mail as raw material for years. Lately, inspired by Phyllis, I have incorporated some envelope linings from my own junk mail that have beautiful colors and patterns. I am also recycling my old prints and collages that haven't worked in whole, but that have some small parts that I can use.

All of this flurry of activity is in preparation for a couple of holiday fairs on Staten Island that I am doing in December. The first is this Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Noble Maritime Collection  at Snug Harbor (see flier below) and the second will be at the JCC on Dec. 11.  I wanted to have a new product that was even more affordable than my $60 collages. These mini pieces will sell for $23 unframed. And, as with all my collages, each one is handmade and unique. NO computer-generated images here! If I'm successful, I may add this size to my Etsy shop as well. http://www.etsy.com/people/DeniseMummArt

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