A history of collage and decollage
Collage was first used in China around 200 BC at the time of the invention of paper but it was not until the 10th century when it became more widely used in Japan by calligraphers who applied glued paper with text onto surfaces in poetry writing. During the 13th century collage techniques were practiced and in the 15th and 16th centuries gold leaf, precious metals and gemstones were used in collage form to decorate icons, coats of arms and religious artefacts. In the 19th century it was popular to apply collage to books, albums and memorabilia. Collage has been produced by artists such as Braque, Picasso and Matisse.
There are many types of collage including mosaic, digital collage and photomontage. Decoupage, which is another form of collage involves building up multiple copies of an identical image that is cut and layered to add depth and can be traced back to Asia before the 12th century. It became popular during the 17th and 18th century, particularly in Venice and was known to be practiced by Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour and Beau Brummell.
Decollage is the opposite of collage and is created by tearing, cutting and removing pieces of an original image. The technique of decollage was first used in 1954 by Wolf Vostell.
Collage in all its forms and decollage continue to be very popular handicrafts and are still widely practiced today.
Tools of the trade
With decollage you are going to need scrapers, knives and other tools for removing layers. If you are using paper then scissors, craft knives, wallpaper and window scrapers and sandpaper work well.
To cut magazines and finish pieces, it is a good idea to have a guillotine. If you do not have one then make sure you create your piece to the finished size you want. The advantage with both collage and decollage is you can make your finished piece any size you want. With a bit of planning.
Applying glues will require brushes. Removing excess glues you will need clothes and clean water.
You will need glue or paste for both disciplines. If you are using materials other than paper then any number of fixings are available. You can be creative here too and show the attachments as part of the piece. Paperclips, bulldog clips, nails, staples, if you can think of it you could use it. If you can see the fixings then they do not have to be functional, the things you use to attach could also be used to decorate.
However, the more materials you use the harder it is going to be to create something attractive. Sometimes limiting yourself to one material used in imaginative ways may give you better results. Just because you can does not mean you should!
You may want to protect your work with a varnish or glaze. Protecting it for years to come.
Decollage is a deconstruction process where you are taking layers away, while collage is built up in layers.
With decollage, think of a time where you noticed a billboard which has had layers of adverts added on top of each other. If left to nature, the top layer would slowly peel and degrade, exposing the layer beneath. Or layers of wall paper added over many decades being peeled away, revealing its secrets.
Done well this is an art form which can really intrigue and capture the imagination of the viewer.
If you are using paper you may feel that it is important to have the layers completely flat, removing air bubbles for example. However, this is a choice. You could purposefully add wrinkles, bubbles, folds and gaps to help create texture.
Tips and tricks
Be adventurous. You can build up different types and textures of materials to create your piece. You could use your recycling, old clothes and other textiles, only limited by what is around you and your imagination.
Create pictures within pictures. Create an image (perhaps a face) and then build up or tear away to leave that shape. The less obvious the better. If it takes a minute for someone to notice, it is a great surprise.
If you are creating a gift, make it personal. You can use old photos, wallpaper you have stripped off your walls, certificates, show tickets, you get the idea.
Ideas and inspiration
You could recycle old magazines. Meaning that your materials are then free. Select a collection of pages that you think will work. Think about the layers. The top piece is perhaps going to be your focal point.
You can create collage or decollage wallpapers and prints on fabrics. You will need to put them into a digital format to send to the printers. It is really easy as long as you make your work square. Cut it exactly in half vertically, placing the two halves back to back. Then cut your new image exactly in half horizontally, placing the two halves on top of each other. If you have any space in the centre you can fill this in as it will repeat just fine.
You could choose a theme. For example, 80s pop, royal family, dogs, cats, architecture, planets, landscapes etc. With a theme you could for example, create a landscape using lots of different landscape images.