getting things together .3 selecting papers
Masterful Mosaics & Beyond

getting things together .4 & keeping things manageable

This is a post to keep momentum/interest going while my re-imagined folios flatten and dry. Above and throughout we'll be considering a stash without quite seeing it.  That's because it's setting off on its way to Grace's tomorrow.  So we're looking at something without betraying full scope or detail.  Nonetheless I decided to use these pictures because it does create community energy around something that isn't just for Grace - there are also additional things related to collage simply so she can have an Old Nana kit dedicated to this form of self-expression.   In comments on the last post I recalled this way of life among my grandmother and her friends.  At this point aside from a few long-time friends of mine, nearly all of those who read here are people who have watched Grace's life transform in any number of directions.   We care about everyone there the same way my grandmother and her friends cared about each other's People.

when it comes to keeping paper manageable consolidation is key

Despite living in an undisputed digital age physical paper is still around us a great deal of the time.  Consequently any time we set out to intentionally attract/receive it for collage-making purposes we seem to notice all sorts of compelling things about all sorts of paper we barely registered when not in seek-to-find mode.  What I've amassed in a decade's time might suggest it's counter-intuitive to take advice from me on this subject.  But I'm looking at it from the other end of the spectrum: What about people who aren't me?  What about collecting PLENTY of paper without having, you know, way too much?  What would that look like?  What about exemplifying a form of 'More Than Enough' that wasn't anywhere close to crossing a line towards authentic mayhem?

The photo above features a gallon zip-lock bag partially full of trimmed paper focal points and a riot of  scraps in all sizes and shapes. I pushed everything to the center in a plumped-up grouping to illustrate the no-lie of my claim that I was amassing the basic size and thickness of a national geographic. To package for sending in the mail I spread everything out to fill the whole bag.  When it's thinned like that, it's quite apparent there's plenty more room in there for Grace to collect things of her own choice and still keep the stash and other supplies comfortably relational to her spatial reality.   A vibrant cache of diverse collage fodder can exist while also minding its manners and any given individual's sense of proportion. 

Underneath the bag of paper is a silver-handled plastic box.  This was chosen because it can easily be repurposed by somebody else for some other purpose if Grace cannot abide one more plastic thing right there with her.  In my life it had a special purpose that was more elevated than not because sometimes I do that with plastic things just to see what it feels like. This kit box is slightly larger than those marketed as back-to-school supply cases.  Maybe three quarters of an inch larger all around.  There's also an 8x10 manila envelope with a few full pieces of paper. 

All told these various components illustrate what I'm visualizing when I refer to a mid-size paper stash and some back-up supplies. 


Once the paper's removed from the bag and fluffed around a bit, you can see that there's plenty of variety in color, design, and paper texture/weight.  

Note:  I added some purple and other brighter stuff when I realized I was making the ON kit not just preparing a special gift from the heart for a specific person with equally specific tastes.  For instance, Emrie's often dressed in brights/purple so I put them in for her amongst the other tapes so she could have something to grab for herself in an inclusive way.  When I was finished combining both goals this mega stash enhancer looked a lot like a few of the bundles I took to my collage lab. 

Gathering and Consolidating Creative Extras Without Losing Your Mind


Bear in mind the Be Prepared elements of this particular grouping: there are lots of my favorite kind of glue sticks.  There's an empty bristol board sketchbook that I love for my daily collages.  I thought when I shared examples as prompts once the challenge gets going Grace might enjoy trying my method and intentional process there at the Everything Table for herself.  Something special just for Grace to share or not.  And lots of washi tape.

 why so much tape?  It's simple.  People love this stuff.  Kids especially love it and it lays down and pulls up smoothly without leaving a mark time after time.  Until the sticky gives out.  That's why there's so much of it. Because washi tape might create multiple minutes of absorbed interaction a/k/a time to glue two or three things down without "help" from a confident self-possessed person Emrie's age.  In addition to the bright purple there is also a brightly colored stylized flower pattern that reminds me a lot of her vibe.  And then she can't really hurt anything while she creates in her own fashion as it's easy to remove from her or other surfaces.  I first (before I understood about the kit) had torn a few sheets of waxed paper so I could share small amounts of some tapes I chose for Grace, specifically.  TapebookletYears ago I picked up the waxed paper booklet tip from Kelly Kilmer's blog. Have been doing this ever since as I love to art journal in places other than my studio.  Over time I've found that judicious inclusion of this fascinating tape can work really well with paper-based collage projects as well.

Obviously your supply box/community craft kit will have different proportions and a different array of customized inclusions.  The point is that you can keep it organized and in tact without sacrificing much space or time.

Right before I shut the kit I lined the raised lid with the 13 little booklets I made before I understood why.  Below you see the entire amount of space this quite well-rounded cache actually consumes:


This is a medium sized priority mailing box.  You can see the supplies completely fill the 3 inch width but there are several empty inches within the 12 inch length.  There's also a couple inches of head-room at the top, for all but the 11 inch envelope - which still has an inch of space to prevent bending and creasing.  Conclusion:  collage is entirely do-able without All That. 


Special Bonus How-To: Create and Organize an Alphabet System Efficiently


Back in the mid-aughts, when I first started investigating what other people were doing collage-wise here online, I was flabbergasted by the many intricate storage systems people had devised for their fodder.  Particularly single alphabet letters intended primarily for creating ransom note style captions.  My mind boggled to the point where I ignored cutting out single letters until I wanted to include that style of word-making in something specific I was creating right there in the moment. 

Making-Doing-Creating energy and momentum is not the same as the kind of impetus it takes to sit back and clip things here there and everywhere right there in the shared moment of maximum creative flow octane.  It took maybe three times total (tops) of clipping individual letters on the spot before I hit on a solution. I keep coin envelopes around mainly for seed saving and sharing purposes but one day I had the brainstorm to label an envelope for each letter of the alphabet plus one to contain ampersands because I really like them aesthetically.

pro tip: Consider taking an occasional cruise through whatever type of magazine you don't resonate with thematically or aesthetically.  This can be especially valuable if it's also published by a company other than the magazines you read and browse with collage in mind.  Because:  Different publishing houses often favor specific type fonts.  If you always collect letters from the same few magazine sources, there won't be nearly as much of a variation in fonts for you to reassemble. 


In your appropriated magazine that doesn't speak to your soul so it isn't likely to yield much in the way of images - Look solely and carefully at all the advertisements.  It's a magazine so there will be plenty of them.  Cut out any headline sized words/phrases -- these will be the easiest and least frustrating to cut apart and organize in small piles for collection in the appropriate envelope once you've finished cutting.  You can also do the same thing with article headlines and larger font size pull quotes.

note:  It's really helpful to have a dedicated 'placemat' serving as a collection point for the separate piles.   I took a quick scan of my amassed letter colors and chose something with strong contrast to the letters.

Pro-tip:  use lower case L's as uppercase i's to prevent visual confusion at the blink level. 

[Obviously nobody 'needs' a collection of cut-apart letters all neatly organized so they can make ransom note style Statements of whatever kind. But it seems like many people really enjoy it.  I've often wondered if it comes from watching television shows or movies back in the sixties and seventies when this style of Crime Communication featured prominently - often consuming the entire screen. Not sure.  Also not apologizing for what follows, just stating a fact - There aren't any examples of my own efforts in this post because, quite frankly, every single time there's been an expletive involved.  Sometimes more than oneSome things just lend themselves to each other that that way.]

oh wait.  here's one lone all-audience friendly thing of mine I recalled after I'd already hit publish.  You can see I created cohesion within chaos by pasting the letters on a piece of yellow cardstock, then cutting around with a scant edge and finally pasting them in place within the fabulous picture I found to illustrate the theme of this gluebook.



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Acey, it has been fascinating to read all of your thorough and fascinating information re paper collage making and how you organize your supplies, what draws your eye re paper, how you create your booklets, etc.

I eliminated many of my magazine subscriptions hen we left California and in fact, now most of the magazines that I have come from the free bin in our library, particularly any and all New Mexico magazines. I've never taken up paper collage making and yet I do collage, using my naturally dyed cloth pieces to create what I call my landscape collages. I find that this works well for me, filling my creative soul.

Still there is one paper habit that I do year in and year out and that is to make my holiday gift tags from paper; magazine cut outs, etc. I am especially drawn to illustrations and photos of our natural world, trees, snow, cardinals, pine cones, photos of ristras because I live in New Mexico and letters of all shapes, colors and sizes.

Besides gift tags, for years now, I also decorate the month of December in my calendar. Looking up from my little table now I can see the following on this year's December calendar:

The words in large 2 pt type in red, "Make Merry."

A photo of a ristra, of course! and a photo of a single long red chile pepper and a single long green chile pepper.

Several snippets of assorted pines and fir branches, as well as pine cones.

A drawing of a peace dove carrying a red chile in its mouth.

A drawing of Kokopelli playing a wild flute, stars surround him and he is wearing a Santa hat and red booties.

Non New Mexican items include a cartoon drawing of the Peanuts gang, from A Charlie Brown Christmas singing out "Merry Christmas."

A drawing of an Alpine house in the snow and finally, a cartoon drawing of 4 snow people...

It's not collage but it is paper story making and it gives me great joy at this time of the year to have scissors and glue stick at the ready.

Liz A

Did you hear the figurative head slap as I said, “that’s what I needed, washi tape!” ... it would have solved today’s dilemma, but I’m so new to using it that I completely forgot I had some. Fortunately, tomorrow’s gonna be another day!


It's an amazing substance. Have even made some of my own following a you-tube tutorial. People give it to me a bunch and I in turn share and pass along as well. Once, when the whole washi craze first started exploding in the art journal/crafting universes here online, I made some of my own following a you-tube tutorial. It would have been fun if I had a neat and precision-oriented skill set. But alas it mostly brought out my All Thumbs aspects.

Been looking back in your archived posts about various projects including your cloth books. The moon book blows me away. Such an act of love for all concerned and how much fun I imagined it was to design and put together. Seems like you entered the Spirit Cloth biosphere right around the time I was stepping back from online communication altogether.


Marti - I perceive collage to *be* a form of paper story-making. I also see it as a representation of the inner landscape, endless universes that can only exist if we give them form and many other things. All of which are mind things. Your eco-dyed cloth collages are extraordinarily evocative, at least for me. They sing their own arias of Heart's truth. Additionally from the center of my own heart's truth - I feel there's something particularly lovely about associating collage with a long standing personal ritual pertaining to the winter holidays and specific handmade projects such as gift tags. I'm sure those tags are kept as treasured objects.

My grandmother loved to embellish our wall calendar with the kind of decorative seasonal and holiday stickers from little booklets they sold for pennies at our local Woolworth equivalent. So did I. One time I got in a bit of hot water for making a large double circle of ALL the pumpkin stickers around my birthday at the end of June. Because I loved them. I also loved my birthday's time of year right there at the height of early summer's floral abundance. So I got in more trouble for wiseacre-ing when she demanded "Would you put a circle of roses and then daisies around Halloween?" and I replied "No. Halloween isn't in June."

laughing and laughing to recall how much sense that made to me while concurrently vexing her. But I think if I were ever to write a book about collage I'd consider calling it Halloween Isn't in June."

grace Maestas

i can take my time to read this through....


hear that exhale like you were right next to me, Grace. couldn't tell if you were up really late or early when it finally came time to slow down this far.

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