“Mark of Wisdom” Collage


I love using a variety of materials in my collages, and this new collage – featuring a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson – is certainly made up of a variety of materials.  New, old, smooth and rough textures, a photo, text, and even foreign language text!  I used one of my own nature photos as the central image.  I’ve thrown a bit of everything into this collage, including bamboo “clips”, metal tape, netting, and masking tape.  And though the materials and textures are varied, I think the overall composition is harmonious.

In addition to using a wide range of materials, I enjoy using found objects in my work, and in this case I found three smashed, scratched, and rusted bottle caps that became three of the main decorative elements for the collage.  I found them in a parking lot, tucked them into the cup holder of the car, and eventually worked them into this collage.  I’m often drawn to damaged, imperfect things.  Things with history.  Things with character.  And though most people wouldn’t have even noticed the mangled bottle caps, or would consider them rubbish if they did see them, I saw their beauty and potential and snatched them up off of the gravely pavement.  Proof that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure…


Curious about how I made this collage?  Here’s an overview:

Print an original nature photo onto photo paper, trim to your desired size. Print quote onto cardstock, trim to desired size.  Tape along all four sides of both the photo and the quote with narrow silver metallic tape.  Use a tracing wheel to add texture to the silver frames, then distress these frames by peeling up some of the edges, and by adding black metallic rub-ons.  Slide bamboo “clips” onto one corner of the photo and quote.  Set the image and quote aside.

Glue pale green handmade, textured paper onto your substrate/base.  (I used an 8′ x 10″ canvas panel as my base.)  Tear a strip of text, and glue along the left side of the collage – top to bottom.  Attach a 5 inch-wide piece of yellow netting over the text, allowing enough length to wrap the excess around the top and bottom and secure to the back.

Punch four holes in each of three found, flattened bottle caps, and stitch an “x” pattern onto each one using black embroidery thread.  Attach the bottle caps to the collage using Pop-Up Glue Dots.  Attach the photo and quote to the collage using Pop-Up Glue dots as well.

“Frame” the collage by taping each side of the collage with two layers of masking tape.  Treat each corner with a diagonal layer of masking tape as well.  Accent the masking tape frame with black and gold metallic rub-ons – apply with your finger using a light touch.  Finish the collage by signing in the corner, and by applying a blank sheet of cardstock to the back to cover what you’ve wrapped around to the back.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the materials or my creative process, dear readers.  I always love hearing from you…

Warm regards,

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  1. Posted April 17, 2012 at 7:52 am by Amanda | Permalink

    This is gorgeous!! Well done.

  2. Posted April 17, 2012 at 8:31 am by Xina | Permalink

    Love the bottle caps with the stitching. Clever!

  3. Posted April 17, 2012 at 10:21 am by Jani N. Howe | Permalink

    Melody, I love the composition of your collage, and the fact that you love to use found and old elements! I, too, am always on the lookout for ‘bits’ in the parking lots. You’d have thought the lottery the day I found an old diary key in the WalMart lot! Thanks for sharing your lovely work with us.

  4. Posted April 17, 2012 at 8:36 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you – and thanks for commenting!

  5. Posted April 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you! It was a lot of fun to make.

  6. Posted April 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for your kind words about my collage’s composition and the found objects I used. Yes, I’ve always got my eyes open for bits and pieces to use in my art, so I would’ve cheered for you when you’d found the old diary key. Great find!

  7. Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:06 am by Robert Stockton | Permalink

    Nice combination of materials! Just the right sense of unity/contrast created by these disparate elements. Well done, Melody!

  8. Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you so much! I always strive for good design, visual interest, and enough negative space in my creations, and am pleased with this collage in those regards. Thank you for commenting!

  9. Posted April 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm by paulette adams | Permalink

    Melody this is so creative and I LoVe the quote you chose to incorporate on to it by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
    So appropriate!
    Thank you for sharing,

  10. Posted April 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm by Melody | Permalink

    It’s my pleasure to share. Thank you for commenting and for your kind words! I thought the quote would be a good fit with both the bottle caps and the flowers image, since many people walk by things like those without seeing or appreciating them…