Collage is a great medium for any young artist to explore. All you need is a theme or idea, and lots of stuff to glue onto a background paper!
The home educator can gather all kinds of scraps to be available: wallpaper samples, wrapping paper , construction paper, ribbon, lace, old photographs and lots of used magazines.
The hardest part of a collage project is to get started. One option would be to tie the project to literature, perhaps a book that all of your students are reading. Take just one line or one scene that can serve as the inspiration for students to simply express what images comes to mind.
Here is a step–by–step collage lesson for students ages 7 and up based on the E.B. White book Charlotte’s Web. (younger students can try if they have developed scissor skills).
- Gather supplies for the collage onto a large table. Suggestions: home and garden type magazines, nature magazines, empty seed packets, string or yarn, scraps of fabric, especially gingham or calico, lace, pad of 9” by 12” construction paper in assorted colors, scissors and glue sticks or white glue.
- A copy of Charlotte’s Web should be handy for reference if needed.
- Select a color of construction paper as your background paper. This will be what you build your collage on.
- Start paging through old magazines that are ready for the recycling bin – students should be looking for images or colors that remind them of anything from the book. It could be a little girl, a barn, a field, a fence, any animals found in the story, or even something not figurative, but evokes the spirit of the book.
Making the Collage
- As the items are carefully cut out, start arranging them onto the background paper, being sure to overlap – this is key to a successful collage. Do not give each item its own space on the paper.
- Once you have some key images, now it is time to look through the magazines once more for words or phrases. One possibility is look for the words that Charlotte spun into her web. If you cannot find the actual words, just look for the letters that make up the words “Some Pig,” “Terrific,” or “Humble.”
- Use the string or yarn to cut into pieces that be made to fashion a web onto the surface of the background paper. Think of spokes of a wheel emanating from a center hub. Then spiral a longer piece of string in an ever-widening circle over the spokes that reach to the edges of your paper.
- Lay your magazine words or letters over the web.
- As a final stage you could add additional elements that give the feel of a country story – seed packets, canning labels, pieces of gingham, maybe even a few pieces of hay!
- Rearrange the items for your collage several times, changing what is on top, the angles, how tight or spread apart the items are. Do not settle for the first way you laid things down on your paper!
- If you still need something else for your collage, or your cut out elements are too small, then you can beef up the collage with color – either use another piece of construction paper of a contrasting color or look for glossy pages of color from the magazines, and cut into small squares . Arrange these splashes of color layered throughout the other collage elements to be a unifier.
- Once you have composed your collage to your liking, now it is time to glue things down in the proper layers. This is perhaps the hardest part. A lot of patience is required to keep everything in place in the composition as you carefully glue a piece at a time. Make sure you glue the bottom layer first, then the items that are layered in the middle, then the things that will be foremost (on top) of your collage.
Making collages can be a lot of fun, and does not need to be restricted to flat paper. You can glue paper and other flat items onto the top of a shoe box to create a memory keepsake box. Explore possibilities of the types of items you can use from the recycle bin, like newspapers, comic strips, foil, greeting cards, labels from food products. After all, Pablo Picasso used the seat of a broken down chair in one of his most famous collages! Sometimes to make art, you don’t need to get out the messy paints or expensive supplies. You just need some scissors, glue and whatever you find in the recycling bin.
For more collage fun, check out Art Projects: Poppy Collage below.