The Collage Process Explained

October 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mail Art | Leave a comment
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  1. First there’s a rough idea for paper collage design, or two or three ideas.
  2. Scanning your immaculately organized studio, you consider the backing/support. Heavy watercolor paper, Bristol board, museum board? Rummaging through a drawer, a file, a cart, you pull considerations out onto the desk.
  3. You bring out the stored decorative and handmade-papers. Seeing the colorful bags sorted by type and size, you feel so TOGETHER.
  4. You plug in a Mozart tape.collage-table
  5. Tear. Cut. Snip. Hey! Let’s make four different collages at once, or more!
  6. At the counter, arrange, and rearrange the paper shapes on the backings. You vaguely notice that there’s an equal amount of bits and pieces on the floor.
  7. They need something else, pop the lid off that other bin of collected oddments!
  8. By now, every studio drawer should be hanging precariously open.
  9. You didn’t notice that the music ended long ago.
  10. For the fifth time you’ve misplaced the small and large scissors, and can’t find the Xacto-knife.
  11. You bring out more scissors. Plus you consider a yellow silk ribbon; 5 inches of orange cotton cord; 1960’s stickers of a chicken, a t.v., a hula girl, and a rubber duckie; a vintage matchbox; a soap wrapper from India with elephants; and textured metal buttons. None of which you’ll use.
  12. Right about here, every surface in the studio should be covered with collage materials. The purple papers are in the orange bag, and the tans have disappeared. You feel, MMM…words fail.file-drawers-top
  13. It’s time to glue: with paste or acrylic medium depending on the paper’s weight.
  14. You glue  in layers, covering each in pieces of plastic drop cloth, so they won’t stick to the big art history text you weight them down with to dry. There’s likely a place left on the floor to put them.pastes
  15. Another layer, more stuff.
  16. If you did it right so far, the palette knife for the paste is glued to a CD cover; the acrylic medium brush is best friends with a paper towel; one shoe is stuck to the floor, and the other is trailing a bit of Thai pink mulberry paper; there is unexplained ink on your hands.
  17. Then, suddenly, you are finished- can’t remember when you started, but it’s dark now. Looking around at the chaos, you feel GOOD.
  18. That’s right, collage had its way with you.
  19. The next morning it takes an hour, or two, to reorganize, put back, wipe down …you find the scissors, and the bag with the tans under the canvas cart.
  20. You arrange some of the collages for a photo shoot.

    Collage Postcards by Joan Desmond 2013

    ©2013, Joan Desmond, Collage Postcards.

  21. Hah! such a clean and tidy pic.
  22. Collaged, mail art postcards, ready for messages, addresses, and stamps. For the Grandkids. Sending some art through the mail.

2012 Fluxfest Chicago-Group Show

February 3, 2012 at 10:37 am | Posted in Art Exhibitions, Mail Art | Leave a comment
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A “…Comprehensive exhibit overviewing 40 years of Mailart and Fluxus.” -Keith A. Buchholz. More info at Imagine Peace Archives and the fluxus blog.

Virtual Art

February 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment

Beyond Mail Art there is “email Art”, uploaded to the web in an instant and sent out on the wire to the world. The Arnolfini Mini[e]MailArt, administered by Ervin Zsubori from Hungary, is one blog that features artists’ responses to select themes in a particular sized format. Submissions for Project # 13, Layers, closes tomorrow. Many, if not most of the expressions, are created with computer graphic programs. So is this the 21st century, art expressions created virtually, sent via email, and realized on a free forum in cyberspace for all to peruse?


October 6, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Mail Art | Leave a comment
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Creativity unleashed by numerous/hundreds/gajillions of Mail Artists contributing to another exhibit organized by Dale Roberts in Canada! Yes, of course I sent some art. I love Mail Art!

Evolution Of An Idea: from object to ArtiStamp.

January 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mail Art | Leave a comment
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Sorting through a kitchen cupboard, culling long unused, or worn-out pans and utensils, there’s an unfamiliar plastic object. See exhibit A.


Exhibit A

It’s very likely a piece of an appliance, the round part is about 2″ diameter, but WHAT IS IT? Oh, just throw it out!  Yet, what if it’s something important that something else can’t work without. It doesn’t fit on existing kitchen appliances. Now I’m intrigued. How did it get here, did the parent get tossed out long ago?

So I take many photos of it, and post it on my FaceBook page as the “alien object”. One of my helpful friends thinks it looks like a coffee filter part. Then another friend, Shari Downhill, is certain that it’s a wall bracket for holding an immersion mixer. Mmmmm, OK, makes sense! Although not working as hanging device with the mixer I have. See exhibit B.


Exhibit B

It’s definitely “an extra”, but now a compelling extra, having spent surplus energy on it, so now the creative brainstorming kicks in. A resolution is needed before I let it go.

There are sculptural possibilities; the object fitted into a glued construction, white or painted? What about an installation, an old kitchen drawer filled with other unknowns, leftover pieces and parts of appliances and tools long gone-a puzzle to figure, and a comment on our consumerism.

More immediate and accessible are the images, the photos, let’s do something with those.

PhotoShop is my go-to virtual tool. The photos are already on the computer; I cut, paste, reorder, manipulate, and filter. Absorbed with it, often I can’t recall the paths while immersed in the process.  The object takes on a bit of personality. See exhibit C.


Exhibit C

Then, more ideating follows. It’s a logical step take this image and create an ArtiStamp with it since it’s offbeat and the design would easily fit the format.

Briefly, artistamps are faux postage that mail artists create as an extension of their ideas and run the gamut of subject matter. The creation method also varies, from hand-drawn, painted, etched, photocopied, rubber stamped, to the easily created computer/personal printer version. We share, trade and use them on mail art. See exhibit D.


Exhibit D

Designed as a sheet of 24 stamps here’s a close-up.

Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art

September 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Mail Art | 1 Comment
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The cover of “Good Mail Day”

What fun is this? A book on creating art for mailing! If you poke around this blog you’ll discover that Mail Art is one of my passions. There’s a worldwide network of us, people that love to send their art visibly through the mail; art of all manner, shapes and sizes.

It’s obvious that “Good Mail Day” which hit bookstores September 1, 2009, is a labor of love for the authors  Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler. It’s an engagingly written intro to the creative aspects of making your own mail art and decorated envelopes using drawings, collage, recycled items, and more. Their can-do approach is accessible to all. Throughout the book, illustrating the ideas, are images of mail art examples from around the world, including my contribution of a collaged rattle/music shaker.

It’s a paperback, but with a nice heft to it and has beautiful photos in an original layout with illuminating bits of mail art history thrown in. Get yourself a copy and be inspired!

“Good Mail Day” is available at and in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

The Other Side of Being An Artist

February 10, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mail Art | 1 Comment
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mail art stamp created from my collage

The only time I really feel productive is when I’m creating art.

There, I said it!

So much of this art business is…well…business oriented. There is office work: the bookkeeping; record keeping; ordering supplies, printing brochures and such; mailing out info to individuals and shows; shipping or transporting work to individuals and shows; keeping up my resume and artist’s statement; documentation of artwork; photographing works to update my web site with images and info—although I do work with a great web designer; reading art newsletters, not only about new artists’ calls, but also by other artists and what’s happening out there in the art world at large; then there’s the daily maintenance in other areas of my life.

I’ve read different estimates of how much time a working artist should put toward art business in order to “make it”, with some numbers as high as 60% of an artist’s time.

This greatly depends on how much an artist is willing to outsource. Because of costs, and a general pickiness, I also tend to stretch many of the canvasses, and do the matting /framing.  With the current uncertain economy many artists may have to re-evaluate what can be done “in house”.

Much of what I’ve included in the list above is enjoyable to me. Yet there is usually a nagging sense that I’m missing something. Even as I’m typing this, there’s the shouldn’t you be drawing something instead? feeling. This is how it is, a balancing act between the making of art and the rest of my life. And yes, I will go draw and then I’ll do the dishes.

Mail Artists Have Their Say

October 20, 2008 at 7:58 am | Posted in Mail Art | Leave a comment
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Responding to a request for comments on their involvement in Mail Art, artists are contributing their thoughts. Read the views of Marina Salmosa, Fabio Sassi, Angela Caporas, and others in Mail Art-Two Cents, now on its own page. Further opinions welcomed!

A Bit About Mail Art

October 14, 2008 at 10:04 am | Posted in Art Studio, Mail Art | Leave a comment

my postcard for the mail art project TEN

Do you have questions about mail art?  Unless you are involved in the making of it, it can be difficult to get a handle on it. There are no real parameters, except that it uses the postal system. But that’s changing also, I just contributed a small work via email to a project called Violet Spots .

On the Mail Art Page I’ve started a list covering the reasons I participate in this movement. Keep an eye out for additions. Also, if you have your own responses to mail art, let me know, and I’ll post those in another list.

The Thumb! Mail Art Exhibit Photos

August 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm | Posted in Art Exhibitions, Mail Art | Leave a comment
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The Mail Art Exhibit Thumb! was well received in Kernville. 

About 80-100 people attended the Friday, July 25th wine and cheese reception, and more folks came through on Saturday and Sunday. Thumb! related displays completely filled the Odd Fellows Hall. In the center of the room a pop-up frame held most of the mail art.

The pieces were inserted into crystal clear envelopes and suspended from fishing line with tiny clothespins.

The viewers were able to walk around and study both sides of the postcards; it was possible to see the contributor’s comments plus the stamps, postmarks and country of origin.

Some postcards were inserted into the pockets of the “clear wall” at the far end (shown in background) of the frame.

Near the Hall entryway, a map marked the contributors’ countries with thumbtacks. Additionally, there was a display of Brain Cell Fractal mail art, with an explanation of mail art in general.  

This display had Thumb! mail art, envelopes, and some other mail art calls available for closer inspection. 

A table set up for making art. It was a popular destination during the evening reception and throughout the weekend. Address labels were available, so some contributors received mail art in return.

                                                                                                                          -all photos by Kat Edmonson


Oh! And there was music! Taped music with mbira, or thumb piano selections, plus a bit of Under My Thumb by the Stones and other favorites played in the background for the duration of the show. Above, the acoustic artistry of Pat Seamount and Kat Edmonson enhanced the reception.

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