Love At First Sail

If you were hoping this post was going to be about me being in love, I'm sorry to disappoint you. It's not that at all. It's about an art project I finished recently—a collage, to be exact.

I've been itching to play around with the collage medium for a while now. In fact, it was the beginnings of a collage that inspired me to start Growing Is Beautiful in the first place. I wanted a way to share both my creative process and my finished art pieces. And I think I got more than I bargained for. But that's another post for another day.

As I was brainstorming gift ideas for the busy Christmas/birthday season of October through December, I decided that collages would be perfect for two people on my list. I started the early phases of planning my collages and picked up a wonderful book at the Goodwill entitled Make Your Mark by Margaret Peot. In my ideal life, I would have gone through this book chapter by chapter and played around with all the different techniques and exercises given. In my real life, I skipped all the way to the chapter on collage and gleaned some great information to help me in my projects.

The first important thing I learned was that my method of gathering words from magazines had one big problem—most of our current print media is not acid free. Which means that all the words I placed into my collage would deteriorate at a rapid rate, rendering the words themselves illegible and potentially ruining other materials in the art piece. Not good. Not good at all.

My two options for overcoming this dilemma were to either photocopy all the words onto acid-free paper or to find a source for acid-free words in the first place. I opted for the latter and bought a stockpile of word stickers from the scrapbooking supply section. This worked fairly well, but I found the range of words to be somewhat limiting and definitely less raw and random than I wanted. In the future, I think I will try the photocopying method and see if I like that better.

The second important thing I discovered was what the book's author called "the best collage adhesive." This was actually the primary reason I purchased the book because I had yet to figure out what adhesive I could use to accomplish my collages. In the past, I have often used rubber cement for my paper-based creations (such as greeting cards and the like) but I find the smell horrifying, the mess annoying, and the strength of its hold less than great. The book suggested a mixture of polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and methyl cellulose powder. After some searching, I was able to find these at a local art store and whipped up a batch for my first collage. If you are interested in the recipe, feel free to email me. Otherwise, I won't bore you with the details. I found it to be a good adhesive for the most part, though a bit messy to work with in the context of using it with photographs. Since both my collages are newly completed, only time will tell how the adhesive stands up over the months and years to come. However, it didn't have much odor and the hold seemed strong once it began to dry. All good things, in my opinion.

My first collage was a Christmas present for Melissa, who is my brother's beautiful, hilarious, and altogether wonderful girlfriend. My brother introduced her to sailing this past year and she instantly fell in love—with sailing, I mean! Thus, I chose to make a sailboat-themed collage and entitle it "Love At First Sail."

Here is the finished collage by itself (click to enlarge):

And here it is in the frame I selected (click to enlarge):

Honestly, I was surprised how quickly the actual collage came together and how well it turned out. I started with a canvas panel, painted it blue and washed it with gray, and then attached pieces of duck-cloth canvas to incorporate the texture of a boat sail. I used pictures from Melissa and Carrington's various sailing adventures as well as a few sailboat pictures my dad had taken. I wanted to keep the sharp lines throughout and cut everything into angles and triangles rather than rounding the shapes. And I am very pleased with the results. Even the frame, which I chose for its natural wood color and intricate carving, added much to the finished product.

And, by the way, Melissa loved it.

So there you have it—my first successful collage!


  1. Thank you again Courtney, I love that you thought of me to work on your collage skills! You're the best :)

  2. Thats cool, you can personalize it. My friend's cousin did a collage thing and made a picture of Mary and Jesus all with newsprint or something and then painted in the colors. It is really cool.

  3. This is so cool!!!You are amazing!!


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