Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Cheat Book - Technique Descriptions

Last week I started a book of “cheats.” The idea is to collect a bunch of different techniques that I use to make my trashy collages. Some of these are going to be really simple and obvious and others not so much. The goal is to use the book as a guide, a way to get the mind going in particularly difficult periods. If anything it’ll be a document itself. There’s no proper plan of what I’m going to do with it other than provide a “technique” and then some commentary on that technique. The idea is to periodically come back and comment on what I initially wrote about say “The Tape Rip” example. Who knows, maybe I’ll have figured out something to add to it later on? It seemed like a fun project so why not go through with it? Here are the written descriptions of the first five things I have plotted out. Since I wrote a whole bunch I thought it would be best to collect them elsewhere in case something happened along the way.
The Tape Rip
I must have made mail-art for at least a year before I started doing the tape rip method. All of my early items were boring and painfully amateurish. Since I didn’t have a proper starting place (I don’t draw, I don’t paint etc.) I just had to start. Those first attempts were quite bad. Thankfully people were supportive or I might have quit before I got to something I liked.
I can’t say that using tape and then ripping the image from the page was completely original. There was no proper forethought; I honestly think it happened by mistake. I was probably playing around with the tape, it got stuck to a page, and I liked the results. Doing this was the first time I felt like I had made something interesting. All of the previous attempts were just bad in comparison.
For a couple of years I did this over and over again. I did postcard sized things, larger pieces; I did it on stickers…anywhere that tape would stick to another surface. It became what I did. People reacted positively to the tape collages I was making and because of that I continued to create.
Slowly but sure I started adding other elements from patterned washi tape to paint.
For a while I stopped doing the tape method, played with other things. I had to remind myself that I loved doing it and then I spent two weeks ripping up paper.
Tape Rip Transfers
With almost a one hundred percent certainty I feel like I saw this online. Someone posted a picture of it somewhere, or a link, but I know I didn’t come up with it. It’s simple, much like the tape rip method. Sometimes I stretch tape across the whole image I wish to make a transfer and other times I put tape down erratically. Doing it erratically means I get good lines in the tape once the paper has been scrubbed away.
Put tape on the image (preferable old paper because it rips better), run hot water in the sink, let sit for ten or fifteen minutes, pull off the big chunk of paper, and then you scrub off the bits off the paper attached to the glue. Of course you let it sit to dry.
It feels like I’m doing a childlike project when I’m creating transfers. It feels like something a second grade class somewhere in the United States is doing the same exact thing. It’s tactile and fun and you get to get your hands wet, it feels like I’m really making something.
I’ve used this method a lot for images of friends’ babies. It comes out quite unique even if it’s difficult to easily discern.
On a good day, you can find the real ones in thrift stores; you know the ones people used before they had video projectors? The math ones I can live without but the ones of towns and landscapes make for interesting collage fodder.
Bingo Markers
So easy to use, so cheap to buy, so difficult to run out of ink. I love making dots.
It took me years before I used paint. Isn’t that dumb? How obvious is it to use paint? Not that I know what I’m doing, not even sure if I’ve ever used a brush to put it on? I use one of those plastic things that you use to even out sheetrock dope.
I like the way it smears.
I like the way happy little accidents happen.
I like how it’s easy to give a work a sense of drama and movement.
This last part is one of the things I struggle with. So often my creations are flat and dull, no movement, very linear. I hate this. Before I finish anything I try and figure out a way to make it appear to be moving, more drama. Paint it what I so often used to give this feeling of movement by allowing it to pretty much go anywhere it would like. Sometimes this causes some challenges but overall things turn out fine.
I like using yellow and orange together.
I like yellow more than any other color.
Found paper
One of the perks of working at a school is that there’s an overabundance of paper. It’s literally everywhere. I don’t use a lot of paper since almost all of my assignments are done and then posted online, but other teachers seem to use a lot of paper. Also, there’s all of the administrative work that happens around a school which equals more paper. This paper has to go somewhere so I try and make use of it as much as I can.
One of my favorite places to find paper is in the classroom. Students will often leave homework, or notes to their fellow students just sitting in a classroom. Once I found a large collection of explicit poetry gently resting in the floor. Of course I kept it.
The garbage cans also are great places for bits of things. I especially like the can right outside of my classroom in the south wing. I think everything thrown away in that particular office suite gets dumped into one large can. Some of the things I’ve found there probably weren’t meant to be seen by use regular worker types.
My most frequented can is the one in the faculty office. The good one is meant for recycling. Often I find old assignments that teachers had misprinted. I especially like the anatomy stuff that ends up in there, often printed off dozens and dozens of times. Sometimes people throwaway books they have no use for. These are great, because you can easily rip them up and make them into other things.
Not only is my school a good place to find trash to make into other things, but I also like grocery stores. Grocery stores are great simply for grocery lists. People leave them everywhere, and although they seem a little dull on the surface they contain a lot of information. It’s fun to see the three or four items that people venture out of their house to get. For good karma I like to leave my grocery lists lying on shelves for other weirdoes like me to discover them.
Recycling bins are good sources. I used to get a lot of things out of the bin going to the Academy Street house. They seemed to subscribe to a lot of magazines. Now that I walk more on Hawthorne when looking for trash, I end up checking out the bulk pickup items. Less than a month ago I went through a whole box of papers and outdated computer stuff. I ended up making out with a whole stack of things, and while a little drunk, I might add.


Pamela Gerard said...

i love this -- we think a lot. I loved the comment about the found poetry "Of course, I took it". Well, of course.......I do all that too -- except for the tape transfers....I love the way they look when others do them but oddly enough I just can't seem to do them right.....I tear things off walls and poles you do too...

zzzzzzzz said...

Go for it Pamela, play around with ripping tape, it's satisfying. Every once in a while I'll take something off a pole. I often find myself chasing down blowing trash walking through parking lots, I guess I should have written about that too.

Pamela Gerard said...

Ha! I was tearing posters off walls all over Spain yesterday while my husband pretended he didn't know me......ok, i will try the tape thing...

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