tools of my trade

#ToolsofMyTrade // Collaging Supplies


I literally write the same Instagram direct message (DM) response at least 9 times a week. I'm thrilled that my growing Instagram tribe is interested in what I use to make my art and as always, I'm happy to share. Instead of scrolling through my DMs each time to copy and paste that same response, I'll share all of my favorite collaging supplies here on my blog. Yep, I have one of those. You're reading it now. I hope you check back in daily to see what's new. Also THANK YOU.

My intentions with collage are two fold: to share my ideas and to push the medium forward, innovating where I can. Collage is probably one of the most acessible art mediums around. Not much is rneeded - paper, paste, scissors - but every professional artist has his, her, they favorite types of paper, paste and scissors.

Arriving at my favorites only took one thing: experimentation. Lots and lots of experiments until I found what felt good in my hands and against my skin. I encourage you to do the same because your hands are different and your tastes are unique. Do what works for you in all things.

Here's my list of favorite collaging supplies. And yes, these links are affiliate links but if you've been hanging out with my on Instagram Stories for a while you know I LOVE these products and use them in almost all of my studio time sessions. Also, affiliate links don't add to your cost. If you buy any or all of these supplies, a few pennies are saved somewhere in the Amazon ether for me to buy...yep you guess it: MORE ART SUPPLIES! LOL. It's a total win win and a very low cost way to support us artists. So thank you and keep reading for my favorite collaging supplies.

Paper is the main surface I work on but I also like wood and canvas. And for the record you can collage on anything. I once saw an original Kerry James Marshall at the MET in NYC and he painted on an old lether bagFor the paper surfaces, I tend to gravitate to heavy coldpress watercolor paper (140 lb) like Arches and Fabriano. I'm working on a few pieces now in the studio and am wishing for even heavier paper (300 lb). I buy large sheets 22 x 30 and fold and ripe by hand to make smaller pieces of paper. 

Arches Cold Press Watercolor paper (140 lb and 300 lb)
Fabriano Cold Press Watercolor paper (140 lb and 300 lb)

And if you're wondering if hotpress would be a better option you're probably right becuase it's smoother, but I like texture so coldrepss it is for me. But here is what I recommend on the hot press end.

Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper (140 lb
Fabriano Hot Press Watercolor paper (140 lb and 300 lb)

I also use Strathmore mixed media paper (smooth) and coldpress watercolor paper various sizes. Watercolor blocks that need to be separated with a paletter knife FRUSTRATE me to no end. I use them but will be pahsing theme out of my practice in lieu of loose sheets of paper.

Strathmore Cold Press Watercolor paper (9 x 12 inches and 11 x 14 inches)
Strathmore Mixed Media paper (9 x 12 inches and 11 x 14 inches)

I stretch my own canvases and buy premade ones. I'm partial to gallery wrapped canvases with 1.5 to 2 inch pocket depth for my paintings but for collaging the 3/4 inch ones are perfectly fine.

Art Alternatives canvas (8 x 10 inches9 x 12 inches11 x 14 inches, and 16 x 20)

Wood panels are becoming a new fav of mine mainly because the experience of using a brayer and gel mediums on wood is just DELICIOUS!  I only use gel medium on wood. I apply thick coats to both the source material and the surface and finish everything off with a final coat of medium. The whole process is messy and fun! The medium dries clear so no need to worry. I suggest getting a mix of shapes - squares and rectangles - so that you can play around with your collage's composition.

Cradle wood panels (11 x 14 inches12 x 12 inches, and  24 x 24 inches)

For my small (11 x 14 inches and smaller) paper pieces I use glue sticks. YAY. UHU is my favorite!!!! And yes, all of those !!! are necessary. I started using this brand after I heard artist Anthony Zinonos on the Art for Ear podcast. I have way too may tubes in all the sizes.

UHU glue stick also known as BAE.

For larger works and when I am using heavier paper or material, I use Golden gel medium (both matte and gloss). Some other options include ModPodge and Tacky Glue (Tacky is good for fabrics). 

Golden Gel Matte Medium
Golden Gel Gloss Medium
ModPodge Matte
ModPodge Gloss
Tacky Glue

Oh and this one thing will change the game for you if  you're into pasting paper like I am. It certainly changed the game for me. Get you a BRAYER! Printmakers usually use them but these are wonderful for smoothing paste paper onto your surfaces. I started using a brayer after I saw my art mentor Romare Bearden using one. 

Speedball Brayer also known as OTHER BAE.

And If you're making collages (paper on paper) to sell or give away, keep your work tidy with plastic gloves from the dollar store. Thank me later.

I have two pairs of my favorite scissors and will be buying a 3rd very soon. They fit my small hands perfectly. 

Ek Tools Scissors
Self-Healing Cutting Mat (don't want to ruin your good wood or marble tables? Get one of these)

I've most recently gotten back into the straight Xacto knife for cutting after being crazy in love with this little cutting knif that wraps around my finger. For cutting off unwanted edges, you will need a metal ruler. I have two.

Xacto Knife
Fiskars Fingertip Craft Knife
Metal ruler

As you grow in your art practice and make the leap from hobby to professional if that's your desire, you start to want and need more quality images. Of course, present-day magazines are good to cut up, but the paper quality of some of the vintage magazines are the BEST. The paper is heavier and the inks tend not to smudge as much when using gel medium.

So my favortite contemporary source materials are basically any and every magazine I can find. I especially love fashion and lifestyle magazines - Vogue, Galmour, Bon Appétit - because the paper quality is usually good and you can find cool colors and textures from all the fashions.

My vintage favorites are of course Ebony, Essence, Jet and National Geographic. I also love old dictionaries and science books.

I gel alot of my source materials from open source and copyright free (or undetermined) archives like the ones held at NY Public Library and National Archives. I also scour thrift stores, tag sales, estate sales and hit up my sweet friends and friends of friends for old magazines.. If you or your mama have a stash of old Ebony magazine please let me know I will pay for shipping. **hugs and hi5s**


Do you collage? Do you have favorite art supplies? Please share in the comments and let me know what you're currently using or if you have any burning questions about my art practice and favorite collaging supplies. I'm always happy to share.

in love and art,