Collage Crafts for Kids

Though the bulk of my children’s book illustrations are painted in acrylics, I decided to do something completely different for my most recent book, Soup Day (to be published Sept. 2010 by Henry Holt).

I felt like I was in a rut, just going through the motions with painting, and I wanted to do something that would shake me out of it – to work outside of my comfort zone.  So I started making collages.

My inspiration came on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago while we were visiting California.  I was in a hotel room with my son, and I realized we hadn’t bought any Valentine’s Day cards for the next day.  I decided to make some with him, but I didn’t have any paint or crayons on hand – just scissors and (oddly enough) a glue stick.  So armed with our tools, we made cards using paper and the pages of some magazines.  This is one Jamie made that day:

Jamie's card for Daddy

When we got back home I began collecting interesting papers and fabrics.  New York Central Art Supply has the best selection of quality papers from all over the world at reasonable prices.  I also photographed random textures in the neighborhood (tree trunks, bricks, sidewalks, manholes, etc.) and printed them on card stock.  I painted color swatches, using different kinds of paints. I cut everything out and made collages for the illustrations in Soup Day.  Here is an example:

"Today is soup day...."

There’s something so exciting and freeing about collage making because so much of the process is unexpected and surprising — in a good way.

Nowadays, my son still loves to create collages, and he’ll often spontaneously do them on his own.  Recently he’s been cutting out words in magazines and making custom signs.  I was thrilled that he was expressing himself so creatively, and he was thrilled that he could take the “F” from “FILM” and add it to the word “ART” to make… (see below):

Another fun idea he came up with is using the brightly colored foil from seasonal candy wrappers.  I think he made this soon after Easter 2009:

Last week, I had a class visit at P.S. 142 in the Lower East Side.  I’ve been volunteering there for several years via Learning Leaders:  Authors Read Aloud, a great non-profit NYC organization.

I read Soup Day to the 1st graders and did a collage craft with them.  As always, they wowed me with their creativity and enthusiasm. They are illustrating books about themselves which we will hand bind during my next visit.  Here are some of their beautiful creations:

To make your own collage, you’ll need:

  • Plain Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Various colored papers, origami paper, newspaper, magazines, etc.
  • Crayons, markers, any kind of media for drawing or painting

Other things you might have lying around:

  • Cotton balls
  • Dried pasta
  • Buttons
  • Sequins
  • Yarn
  • Used stamps
  • Sequins
  • Glitter
  • Tissue paper
  • Whatever you can think of that can be glued!

Cut shapes out of the colored papers and glue on a plain piece of paper to make a design or illustration.

Some helpful hints:

1.  If it is difficult to cut out a shape by eye, first try drawing the shape in pencil on the paper you are cutting, and then cut out the drawn shape.

2.  If you are looking for a specific color or texture and you can’t find it among your samples, make your own:  Color a piece of paper using media of your choice and cut a shape out of that.  For example,

The blue swatch on the left was used.... make the dad's shirt.

3.   If you want a large swatch of color to use in your collage, and you can’t find the right size, you can make a big swatch by pasting a bunch of cut pieces of that color on a separate piece of paper.  Let dry and then cut a shape out of that piece.  For example,

Lots of different browns cut from magazine photographs were glued together...

...and cut out in the shape of a tree.

4.  Have fun and experiment!


Filed under Art Related

11 responses to “Collage Crafts for Kids

  1. Very cool that you’re using collage now in your work. I love seeing how Jamie uses collage as well. Nice blog!

  2. Penny Root

    I am a retired teacher, double major in collage, art and teaching (so I could eat). I ending up loving both fields. I find your creativity very stimulating and I can only imagine how children would respond to such a fabulous outlet. Hooray for you!!!! You have taken collage to a higher step….. and children’s hearts and aspirations with it. Penny PS, We love Amanda!

  3. Your blog is really inspiring. I homeschool my preschooler and you have lots of wonderful ideas that even I can do. I blog about cooking as well and love your photos and recipes. I’m a new follower and look forward to reading more of your great blog 🙂

  4. Ash

    This looks so fun. Very inspiring. Love your blog. And that Rich Chocolate Cake down there looks amazing too.

  5. As an art teacher, I do a lot of collage projects, but I have never used the technique you demonstrate with the tree. I love it!
    One collage project that is really fun is life-size collage people. Check out this link-
    The lesson is for middle school, but it is easy enough for any age. It makes a great group project, too, because it does require quite a bit of work.

  6. Thanks for the link! That looks so fun — it’d be fun to do it with the class I work with, but I only have one more visit, and we will be finishing the books. It’s something fun to think about for the future, though.

  7. Pingback: Hand Binding Books with 1st Graders « The Hungry Artist

  8. Ela

    you’re very creative. your site is inspiring… thanks for sharing with us…

  9. Pingback: Celebrating World Read-Aloud Day with Eric Carle | Positive Parental Participation

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