Thursday, October 2, 2014

Collaging with polymer medium and a tacking iron

So after watching all of Laura's tutorials, and seeing the technique she uses to adhere her collage papers, I went right out and bought myself a tacking iron.

I'm in love with this process.  

Here's how it works.
You coat your substrate and both sides of your collage papers with polymer medium.  You let them dry.  You assemble your collage layers in a pleasing manner.  The slight stickyness of the polymer medium makes it really easy to stick papers down temporarily.  I don't know about you, but when I compose with untreated papers, they are constantly sliding around, blowing off or curling up and it's really hard to plan a composition.  These papers are kind of like colorforms.  You can stick them down and peel them up again until you're happy with the arrangement.  And once you are?  You cover the collage with a piece of parchment paper and iron the whole thing down with your nifty little tack iron.
All your papers are perfectly adhered without wrinkles or bubbles and without spontaneously deciding to fall off after the glue has dried.
I've done 20 collages this way so far, and they are smooth and flat and permanent.  I may never use glue again.

I spent a great deal of time over the weekend prepping favorite bits of collage fodder with polymer medium so I'll be ready to collage at a moments notice.

Contrary to the above caption, I'm feeling pretty smart.


  1. funny - I was just watching those videos today! I was watching them at work so the sound was really quiet and I wasn't getting everything she said, BUT it looked pretty slick. Do you find it works with fairly heavy/thick paper too, not just magazine weight? I'm intrigued.

    1. Terrie, it worked beautifully with heavy paper. I had a thick glossy postcard that I was worried about, and it went down really well.

  2. It's a great technique...thanks.

  3. The question is....are your prepped papers going to stick together if you leave them in a pile?
    I love the little squares popping off the nitwit collage.
    Yes, you are definitely a smarty pants! :)

    1. It's true Mandy - that's one of the drawbacks of the technique. My newly prepped papers are all sandwiched between sheets of deli paper, which means I can't store them in my file cabinet with my other painted papers, and it means it's inconvenient to flip through the pile. But for now it's worth it. I did a little studio re-org to open up a drawer where they can lay flat.

  4. Here's another one - does it work with translucent papers like deli paper etc so they retain their transparency? I'm not usually a glossy kinda gal - how glossy is it or does that fade as you add paint, etc on top? I'm tempted.......

    1. It worked really well on deli paper, and it was excellent on tracing paper. I have bunch of images printed on tracing paper, but have a hard time finding a glue that doesn't make them wrinkle. This was great for that.

      And yes, it's really shiny when you first spread it on the papers (and I'm not a shiny either) but the ironing takes some of that away, and then paint covered it, and some things I coated with matte medium when I was done, and others were getting sprayed with workable fixative (because I was adding water soluble crayon or charcoal and didn't want it to smudge under my next layer.)
      none of my pieces ended up glossy at all.
      I was talking to someone else about using a regular iron. I bet that would work just as well (but would be a little harder to manipulate) That might be the way to start experimenting without buying new equipment.

  5. That's very cool. I'm one of Those People who have no patience for watching videos, I just like written-down instructions. Did you pretty much cover it here? And any particular reason why it has to be a small tack iron? I have one for ironing tiny seams but I misplaced the thing it rests on and since I have a history of not quite understanding the properties of heat, I melted something plastic by accident. (Hey! The metal wand part gets really hot too. DUH. Can you believe I got an A in college physics?)

    I MISS making art. Miss you too!! Hope all is well.