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Monday, September 12, 2022

 Collage Tips And Ideas

Collages are so much fun and easy to do. They are an expression of our thoughts, feelings and ideas. The best thing about collages is that there are not hard fast rules, only suggestions. And no matter what level you are at in crafts, from beginner to advanced, you can do one.

Collages can be done as free-standing artwork on canvas or mixed medium paper. Or they can be part of an art journal, travel journal or junk journal. 

Collages will not break your craft budget. A lot of what you need may already be in your stash or easily accessible at low cost.


Magazines are a treasure trove for your collages. You can use the images, words and individual letters to create mixed font words

Places To Find Magazines

  • If you do not have any subscriptions yourself, have family and friends save their magazines for you. 
  • You can also touch base with your local library to get any magazines that they may dispose of.
  • You can also try at yard and estate sales. Sometimes you can find stacks of magazines really cheap.
  • Try Ebay, Search "vintage magazines" or "fashion magazines. Look for magazines in lots rather than as singles. They can often be purchased in lots.
  • Book Stores-look for unique magazines that will have special pictures and print
  • Buy subscriptions-Do fashion magazines like Elle, W and Elle. Try food and wine magazines, home d├ęcor magazines and animal magazines.
  • Thrift stores may have some magazines or art books, travel books and other useful materials


Another source of images are the catalogs that you get at home. My personal favorites are the garden magazines. I also like home decor catalogs and holiday catalogs. These have large and small images and lots of words that can be used. Best of all, they are free.

More Materials For Collages

There are lots of things that you can use for your collages. Here are just a few suggestions so that you can start collecting materials. I like to keep my collage materials in one box

  • Buttons
  • Colored cellophane
  • Coloring book pages
  • Confetti
  • Craft foam
  • Crayon shavings
  • Fabric
  • Fancy napkins
  • Fancy paper (like those used in scrapbooking)
  • Feathers
  • Flower petals
  • Greeting cards
  • Leaves
  • Magazine pages
  • Newspaper clipping
  • Photographs
  • Playing cards
  • Postcards
  • Puzzle pieces
  • Rice
  • Rubber bands
  • Sandpaper
  • Seeds
  • Sequins
  • Spices
  • Stickers
  • String
  • Tinsel
  • Tissue paper
  • Toothpicks
  • Wire
  • Wrapping paper

Collage Design Tips

There are so many design ideas that you can consider, but remember this is your art, your way. So think about some of these ideas. Take what you want and leave the rest!
  • Keep textures even-If you have thicker paper images, try not to mix them with thinner papers. keeping your textures, the same, give a more even and better results.
  • Cut around the edges, with a little bit of a border. That way the image will be totally visible, but the extra edges will blend into the background.
  • Tearing and ripping around images creates a softer, rugged texture around them. I like to use this technique for things like hair, fur, and soft flower petals. If it’s soft in real life, then I usually rip around it in collage.  Be careful when you rip. Do it slowly.
  • Use the rule of thirds to create a balanced piece. Most of your collages will have a foreground, a point of interest and a background. Using that idea keeps your collage visually appealing.
  • Repeat colors- pick one of the colors I used in creating my background on the subject itself.
  • Repeat lines and forms-use similar lines and forms in one piece. Not a set rule, just a suggestion.

Collage Journal Pages

When you are creating collages on journal pages, there are a few things to consider getting the best results.

Paper Weight

If you are using a book or any other paper, other than mixed media or watercolor paper, you need to strengthen the paper before you start collaging. You can strengthen the pages in one or two ways or use both.

TIP: Any time you are working on a journal page, cover the page behind it with pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper. This will protect other pages from getting glue or ink on them

One way is to glue pages together. If your pages are thin, you can glue two or three pages together. Use spray adhesive or PVA glue. If you use liquid glue, apply the glue evenly with an old credit, gift card or brayer. Place the second page over the first, then roll a brayer to make sure the page is even.

Adhesive Tips

Before you start gluing any part of your collage, you will want to lay all your pieces on your piece. That way you can make any changes and will avoid disappointment. There are a few things when it comes to the kind of glue you use. There are many schools of thought when it comes to using different glues. Some folks hate glue sticks and others will not use any liquids. As you start out in this medium, try different options and see what works well for you.
  1. You want a glue the keeps the edges down and firm
  2. You want a glue that does not show through the middle of the piece
  3. You want a glue that does not cause wrinkles to the pieces
And it also depends on the materials you are adhering to your collage. If you are strictly using magazine photos, you might want to use a lighter glue. But if you are using more dimensional items, you will want to use a tackier glue. 

Glue Sticks

Some collage artists like them and some do not. They are of course reasonably priced. I recommend that you buy a good glue stick if you use one. If you do use one, use a good quality acid free one. If they have some blue in them, that disappears, that will help you know where the glue has gone on your surface.

Glossy Accents

You might be surprised to see that as a magazine collage glue. It actually meets all criteria for this type of product and averages about $3.49 an ounce

Nuvo Glue

This is another glue that meets all the criteria for a good collage glue. And one of the nicest things about this glue, is that it does not clog. About $4.49 an ounce

Double Sided Tape

A roll of double-sided tape can be helpful on your collages. you can rip off exactly what you need,

Collage Surfaces
  1. Canvas-Of course you can create your magazine collages on canvas. Canvas comes as flat board and artist grade canvas. You can decide if that is the way to go for your artwork.
  2. Watercolor Paper-It is a popular surface for many magazine collages. It is sturdy enough to handle all the glue and clipping that you may want to use. It comes as pads and journal like books in various sizes.
  3. Mixed Media Journals-These are heavy weight papers that are perfect to handle collages.
  4. Altered Books-Collages are the perfect addition to any altered book. The one thing to consider when you are using altered books for your collage is the weight of the paper in your book. You may have to glue a couple of pages together to take the weight of a collage. You can also cover the print on the page with gesso so that none of it shows through your design.
  5. Art Journals-Collages and partial collages will shine best when you do them as part of an art journal

Composition Ideas

You can create your collage any way that you find pleasing. After all, it is an expression of your thoughts and feelings. But there are a few things to consider when you are putting it all together to get the most pleasing results.

You do not have to cover every inch of the surface! Leaving some space even if just a little will let each individual image shine! If you prepped the surface with some color, it is ok to have a little space showing, even if it is the tiniest space

Working in a theme means that all of the images that you use will have some kind of meaning or connection. Having that connection will help you create a piece of art you can be proud of.

Simple tissue paper can be a strong element for backgrounds and actual collage pieces. You can use watercolors to add color to simple white tissue paper. It is a very cost-effective supply. I love to recycle tissue paper from gifts and packagingFor best results, apply light colors first, then darker tones. You can also overlap different colors of tissue to create new colors.

Use book text to create an interesting background. Adhere the pages in different directions to make it more interesting. You can use one or several layers. Use an acrylic wash to cover the print. Cover as much of the print as you would like. Lots of thrift stores have cheap books.

Coffee filters are another resource to use on your collages. You can color them with dye inks, watercolors, alcohol inks and whatever else you may have.

Try some used softener sheets from your dryer to add more texture to your collages

Create some stains on your collages. Use some cold coffee on the bottom of a coffee cup, run a wet tea bag over an area, use blueberries, wine or anything that will stain paper to create an interesting effect.

Want to find the products I used? I have listed them below. (Compensated affiliate links used at no cost to you) Thank you for your support! All products were personally purchased Click on the icons below each product picture to go to a favorite store.

Thanks for stopping by. We appreciate you and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Till next time, Happy Crafting!


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