Trash or Treasure: Making Collage Art With Reclaimed Materials

An illustration of a thumbs up

Doing a little spring cleaning? Before you throw out all those magazines, newspapers, books, greeting cards and letters, junk mail, used envelopes, maps, old homework or anything else you have lying around, you may want to pause and see if there is some use that can be reclaimed from these materials for some art making. I am talking about collage. Derived from the French word “coller” meaning to paste together, collage can be as simple or as complex as you wish.  From work as simple as macaroni art to the Dada and Surrealist art works hanging in museums throughout the world, collage comes in endless styles and is accessible to all skill levels. If you’ve ever felt artistically blocked, this is the craft for you. You can’t go wrong.

For ideas and guidance on how to get started, check out the listed video tutorials on  Creativebug. They have over 1,000 creative video classes and tutorials that you can get for FREE with your library card. Here are a few videos on collage that I found to be helpful:

Working With Collage

Beginning Collage

Scrap Maps

You might also enjoy my short tutorial which shows you how to create a collage using recycled and reclaimed materials on the CLP YouTube channel @clpvideo.

Collage Playground: A Fresh Approach To Creating Mixed-Media Art

It’s time for your creativity to come out and play! Remember the carefree spirit you had as a child? It’s time to recapture that sense of wonder and excitement in your art with Collage Playground! Come play with author Kimberly Santiago as she introduces you to 10 simple techniques and 25 projects that take the “work” out of collage and bring back the fun. Discover textural ways to create with papers, fabrics, paints and more. Also, learn tips for building up and using your own collage stash.

Title also available on OverDrive.

The Collage Workbook: How To Get Started and Stay Inspired

Both a popular hobby and a recognized art form, collage encompasses a wide range of creative styles and techniques—explored here by the creator of the popular A Collage a Day blog. Offering step-by-step instruction, visual inspiration and even a library of copyright-free images, this hands-on guide covers all the necessary materials, tools and know-how, from adding color and transferring images to décollage (tearing away layers). And to spark the reader’s imagination, there are 52 creativity prompts, such as a collage using the letters of a single word.

Collage Lab: Experiments, Investigations and Exploratory Projects

Collage Lab offers artists and crafters a fun and experimental approach to making art. The book is organized into 52 different labs which may (but do not need to) be explored on a weekly basis. The labs can be worked in any order so that readers can flip around to learn a new mixed-media technique or be inspired by a particular collage theme or application. The underlying message of this book is that artists can and should gain expertise through experimentation and play. There is no right or wrong result for a given exercise, yet readers will gain skills and confidence in collage techniques, allowing them to take their work to a new level.

Title also available on Hoopla Digital.

Cut It, Paste It, Sew It: A Mixed-Media Collage Sourcebook

Cut It, Paste It, Sew It offers both insight into the materials, techniques (both familiar and experimental) and inspiration from a collection of 10 international artists who bring their own distinct style and methodology to the art of collage. The book covers all types of materials including paper, fabric, wood and found objects. It shows the artists at work in their studios as well as providing information on their work process and their sources of inspiration. The content is presented in an easy and fun presentation that makes it accessible to beginners while at the same time inspiring for the more experienced artist.

Collage Discovery Workshop

Unlock the artist within! Collage is the perfect medium to help you unleash your creative potential. You can gather materials from just about anywhere, glue them down on a surface and magically create a work of art. There are no mistakes, only discoveries. In Collage Discovery Workshop, acclaimed collage artist Claudine Hellmuth shares 15 of her favorite collage techniques and invites you to play with basic collage materials in new and imaginative ways. Along the way, Claudine guides you with friendly advice on how to develop your artistic voice and turn an ordinary collage into something special.

Title also available on OverDrive.

Make It Yourself! Collages & Sculptures

Learn about makerspaces with Make It Yourself! Collages & Sculptures! Young makers will discover what makerspaces are and how to hold maker events. Kids will make crayon mosaics, metal wind chimes, cardboard cityscapes and more. Each project has color photos and easy-to-follow instructions. Special techniques and tips help kids make the most of their makerspace experiences.

Title also available on Hoopla Digital.

Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris

This lavishly illustrated and astonishingly comprehensive volume stands as the definitive study of the influential but deliberately elusive international Dada movement of the early twentieth century. Organized according to the city centers where this shifting, quintessentially avant-garde movement emerged, this book features the work of 40 key artists, both infamous and lesser-known, including Louis Aragon, Hans Arp, Hugo Ball, André Breton, Otto Dix, Marcel Duchamp, Hannah Höch, Man Ray, Tristan Tzara and Kurt Schwitters, to name just a few, in media spanning from painting and sculpture to photography, collage, photomontage, prints and graphic work.