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Drawing is the gateway drug, I swear. I get my hands moving with the pen and they itch to pick up the knife.

Last week, I bought a magazine on impulse and thought “I’ll cut it up when I’m done!” and discovered that *all* of my collage supplies are in storage. Once again, I had managed to go more than a year between glue brushes. Discovering that I didn’t even have a cutting mat was like discovering that I don’t own underpants. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM RIGHT NOW.

(Digression: It’s this question of “Who I Am” that kicked my butt into searching for aforementioned cutting mat in the first place. I was discussing art projects with our neighborhood children’s librarian and she asked me “Oh, are you an artist?” OH RIGHT. I GUESS I AM. And I realized that uh, hey, artists actually make art sometimes. And so, the very next night, instead of loading up Steam and playing a game, I loaded up Spotify and cranked some tunes and grabbed my pens. Funny how these things happen. My life has a history of offhand remarks such as this spurring creative revolution. You just never know where inspiration is going to come from – so, thanks Margaret.)

Anyhow. A week later and my shipment of supplies arrived from Amazon. I’ve gone over my preferences in previous posts, and this is what I got for a little mini-studio. I have both limited space for storage (one tiny closet shelf) and limited time (two hours, three tops, per piece – I can’t currently leave anything half finished to come back to later, there’s just no logistical way of storing an unglued piece) so this is completely barebones basics for quick and dirty collage work.

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Pictured: My scissor collection, envelopes of cut pieces, Mod Podge, brayer (this is new for me – I only bought it because Amazon recommended it and I thought “Why not” – LIFE CHANGING.), old pillowcase for glue, clementine box to store supplies (I love reusing things and I also have been eating a box of clementines every few days this pregnancy, so this was just lying around and is the perfect size), sponge brushes.

Not pictured: Exacto knife, extra blades. Pile of material – right now I just have a few magazines. When I had a studio in our old place, I had piles of old books and magazines and ephemera. We will eventually live in a bigger apartment where my permanent stash will probably be somewhere in the middle until my pipe dream of my own studio outside the home comes true and then I’ll maybe also have a pony.

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And with my very, VERY limited stash of pieces (I haven’t even cut up my entire stack of magazines – I was too excited to get to work! I really liked the background piece I chose and decided to just do a quick and dirty piece while I amass a larger collection for more “serious” work later.) I got to work. Also essential for artistic work, MUSIC. Today, I went with my favorite band – a surefire win.

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In cutting around those hands with my knife, I discovered that collaging while pregnant is more challenging than I would have thought. BabyGirl did NOT enjoy the angle I was hunched at and later on, I don’t know if I would be able to bend close enough to the paper to really see detail that small. I guess it’ll either be only use big pieces or borrow my husband’s soldering magnifier…

As you can see, the initial idea was putting eyes on the varying pink segments. The idea came to me as the eyes were on strip backgrounds much like the color stripes here – but… when I took them out of context, it wasn’t interesting to me. So, I fished around and found some other things to spice it up a bit. Got a few things I liked and when it felt like a coherent image, I got the glue.

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I glue on cloth like this – painting the glue on the back of the cut piece and placing it on the background – as it’s the best way I’ve found to NOT accidentally glue stuff together and also avoid getting glue stains all over my work surface. This is just a folded up old pillowcase. For bigger pieces or using spray mount (which I’m not doing, even though I prefer it, because I don’t have good ventilation in my dining area) I use an old sheet. This is a discovery I made doing my senior project at Hampshire where I was using so much glue that it was accidentally getting all over EVERYTHING until I had the genius insight to put one of my “clean” painting rags over my desk when gluing. It’s also incredibly handy for wiping glue off my fingers as I work. When I’m done, I just fold up the cloth and keep reusing it. The dried glue means I can’t ever use it for anything else, which is why I always choose something that is a glorified rag to start with.

(I have never tried to wash my glue rags and wouldn’t recommend running that experiment unless you have absolutely no love for your washing machine. Even then, I *REALLY* wouldn’t ever put anything that had been glued through a dryer unless my end goal was “BURN IT ALL DOWN.”)

And… TA DA. The (untitled) finished piece! It’s not much, but it feels so, so good to have done SOMETHING. It’s the difference between being a working artist and “Uh, I usedta could art…” So, no diplomatic Civ victories in my future as my only working time is my former game time, but this is even better.

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