“Collage” party: New Caledonian Crow, gel on canvas

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New Caledonian Crow: gel on canvas

New Caledonian Crow: gel on canvas. Original photo of Uek by Vince Musi, from National Geographic 2008 "Animal Minds" issue

Today I attended a “collage” party at a friend’s house. The idea was to get together and learn to create some collage artwork using transparent gel. I jumped at the chance to get out of the house and do something creative that did not involve sitting in front of the computer. I took a bunch of magazines and odds and ends with me, and I clipped a lot of animal photos out, but what I ended up using for my first project was one photo from a National Geographic magazine. Not exactly a collage. The photo is of a New Caledonian Crow from the 2008 Animal Minds issue. (I love Corvids and have read many accounts of the New Caledonian Crows and their tool use.) When I did a quick search on these crows before writing this blog post, I found the photographer’s comments on this shoot {Vince Musi}. Apparently, the crows were less than cooperative.

Over a long and relaxing afternoon of wine and snacks, I created my first piece. First, I cut out the magazine page and then brushed it with several crisscrossing layers of gel medium (we used Golden Gel Mediums—soft and regular). Then I let it air dry for a while, alternating once in a while with a hair dryer. It seems like it took well over an hour to dry thoroughly, but I wasn’t paying close attention. In the meantime, I took a basic white canvas and washed it with reddish-orange and gold. Once the cut-out was dry, I turned it upside down and immersed it in clear water. Then I gently rubbed the paper off the back. (Basically, the image on the front adheres to the gel, but the paper disintegrates as you rub it. This takes a long time.) Once all of the paper was removed, I removed the cut-out from the water and left it to dry thoroughly over the back of a chair. When the cut-out was mostly dry, I used the gel medium to glue it to the canvas. Then I put a few gel coats on the top of the cut-out and canvas. As the project dried, it became more translucent. I thought it would end up more translucent than it is, but I still like the effect.

So there you go; a new craft project to try. Magazine photos seem to work well. Apparently color copies or laser prints also work well, but not inkjet prints. I would like to get some copies made of my favorite pet photos and try those next.

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3 responses

  1. That sounds like a great day. Thanks for the description of how you used the transparent gel, something for me to try. Fab work by the crow photographers!

    • My friend and her mom put together the whole thing—they had a zillion art supplies there and were patient and encouraging. I’ve never really tried anything like that before, but I’m definitely planning on picking up some of the gel and trying it on my own. Would be a good project with the step-kids too.

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