Last year I made a set of house collages using materials at hand rather than going out and buying new supplies. Granted, I spent many of the years between 2000-2006 making many “Mr. Toad” (wild ride) trips to Columbus to acquire supplies, so my studio is as well stocked as a small art supply store, but I didn’t look any further than the recycling bin for the base of this project. (One admission: the frames and spray adhesive needed to be purchased new, and I had to make color copies of my family photos to do this project).
To make your own house collage, you will need:
1 cereal box, emptied and flattened
Gesso and acrylic paint (the $0.89 bottles work just as well as the fancy art store brands for this project)
Paint brushes, water cups, rags for cleanup, putty knife
Template (see sidebar or download the house template here)
XActo, or other craft knife
Scrapbook paper, preferably solid or tone on tone (12” x 12” sheet, plus smaller pieces of other paper, or pre-paint your own paper )
Color copies of family photos, landscapes, whatever catches your eye. You can also get some great images for collage at ArtChix Studio .
Found objects (I’ve used things like bottle caps, doily pieces, embroidered appliques and small rubber animals)
Acrylic gel medium
Rubber stamps, stencils, bubble wrap, sequin waste, anything that will make a repeating pattern on your base
Dollar store picture frame (with glass) approximately 8” x 10”
Pencil or other marking tool, masking tape
1. First, paint your flattened cereal box with the gesso, letting each side dry completely before adding the first coat of paint. Let each layer dry, adding texture and details using rubber stamps, stencils, or sequin waste. I paint both sides on my cereal boxes, using different colors on each side so I have more choices when creating my design. Waiting for the pieces to dry takes patience, but end result of the funky layers makes the process worth it. Don’t worry if some of the original cereal box ends up showing through, that just contributes to the charm of the project (or maybe the Lucky Charm; sorry, couldn’t resist).
2. When you are happy with the way your cereal box looks, trace the house template onto it, and cut out, using the craft knife or a sturdy pair of scissors.
3. Cut a smaller triangle out of the opposite color/side of the cereal box, and place in the gable, for contrast.
Here you can see the various images I could choose from. I love making copies of old artwork and resizing the image to fit these little collages. It really expands my options.
4. Choose your images and arrange them onto the house. When you get an arrangement that pleases you, glue the components down using the acrylic medium. I press larger pieces down using a heavy object such as a big jar of acrylic medium or fabric paint. Let dry.
Here I chose a piece of paper I had painted last summer using a fish design that I turned into a silkscreen.
Gluing the elements using the gel medium and the putty knife.
I found some commercial embroidered appliques to add to the image. I really like how it appears that my daughter is studying her garden.
5. Measure the inside perimeter of your picture frame. Cut a piece from the 12” x 12” scrapbook paper to fit the area. Don’t worry if it’s a little larger than your measurement. It’s easier to trim excess paper than make a piece that is too small fit correctly.
6. Mask off the frame using the masking tape. Clean the glass in the frame and let dry. Then spray the glass with the adhesive and stick the scrapbook paper in place, using a bone folder or old gift card to smooth out any bubbles. If there is too much paper, try sliding the excess under the edges of the frame with the gift card, then trim any leftover. Let dry.
7. Using a putty knife, slather the back of the house with a layer of gel medium (I use Golden’s Extra Heavy Gel on my pieces. It’s very thick and stays where I put it). You will have some ooze, so put a lighter coat near the edges than in the middle.
8. Place the house, gel side down, centered on the scrapbook paper in the picture frame. Weigh down with heavy jars as needed. Let dry.
9. Remove weights and voila! Hang your beautiful collage in its new home.
This is a great way to make a simple piece of artwork for your home or office. Use copies of pecial photos and give as gifts. The possibilities are endless. To see some of the work I’ve made using this method, look at my Etsy shop. Have fun!