Orly and I are friends who both live in Salem and share a love of old books. What started as an idea last fall, blossomed into something beautiful: a collaborative workshop with Orly and myself. We met to dream about what we would offer, to come up with a title, and to figure out how we would present the class.
Once our ideas began to take shape, we had several photos taken of us together, named our workshop MIXT: Collage on Old Book Boards, and decided that we would each teach two days in our four-day class. The class took place last week and was held in NE Portland at the gorgeous former studio of Flora Bowley. (An added benefit was that Orly and I got to stay at the studio, which has been made into an AirBnB – the commute to and from class was divine.)
Orly taught the first two days, and I taught the second two days. It was a whirlwind of tearing books apart, doing creative drawing exercises, playing with transfers, making our own painted collage papers, and creating the biggest mess we could. No words needed; the photos tell the story.
The workshop was a lovely success. The weather was perfect, and we were able to eat outside on the lovely grounds of the studio and take walks in the morning and evening. Everyone created a series of beautiful collages, incorporating the varied methods and ideas that both of us taught. There was laughter, silence, tears, the sound of paper being ripped, and the sound of a squeaky brayer. Orly and I deepened our friendship as we shared this time and experience together.
I love having a daily art project, something quick and easy and not too complicated. Having this type of project gets me into my studio, even on days when I only have a little bit of time or when I’m not feeling like painting or doing something big. Last year I kept a daily journal where I filled the pages with words, collages, and small paintings. One year I did a painting a day in a series of spiral bound journals. For this year, I am creating a collage each day and I have titled my project Lexicon of Collage. For my substrate, I am using matboard cut into 4×6 inch pieces (I ordered the matboard in a size of my choosing from Matboard and More, a company I have used for a lot of projects over the years).
For most of the collages I make, I use pieces of my hand painted papers, which I create using acrylic paint on various papers, i.e., drawing, deli, tissue, and paper bags. I divide these papers by color, making it easy to find just what I need.
When I’m ready to create a collage, I reach for my painted papers, text and typography, bits of ephemera, scraps from old books, and random pieces of collected papers. I audition the papers and when I have a composition I like, I start gluing using Golden semi-gloss soft gel medium.
Once I have glued down my collage material, I place a piece of wax paper over the collage and then a stack of heavy books on top (or a bag of rice), and let it dry for several hours (or overnight). Once the glue is set, I often have raggedy edges that I like to trim using an Xacto knife. Once the collages are trimmed, I apply a thin coat of Golden’s semi-gloss soft gel medium, the same medium I use for gluing the papers.
There are several benefits to having a daily project. As I mentioned above, this type of project gets me into my studio. But even more than propelling me to make art daily, it pushes me to experiment and play with a variety of compositions, unusual color combinations, and ways to create little pieces of art that hopefully take my breath away, that cause a gasp of delight, all the things that I want to happen in my bigger paintings.A bonus: I have already used some of my collages as inspirations for my paintings.
Another fun addition to this project is how I share my completed collages. About once a week, give or take, I share a grouping of collages I have created. I started inviting friends (and family) to be my guest collage flippers. I videotape my invited collage flipper and share the videos on Instagram. Here are some of my invited flippers.
For more regular updates on this project, follow on me on Instagram where I regularly post videos of my guest collage flippers and/or sign up for my monthly newsletter, where I do periodic updates about my Lexicon of Collage project.
A rare glimpse of me in my basement lair*, where I store all of my scavenged paper, vintage scrapbooks, ephemera, photographs, book scraps, old books, and book boards, and where I work on my Salvage Collages.
Lately, I have been on a Salvage Collage toot, and I work on collages in three ways:
♦ In a vintage scrapbook/journal/notebook devoted to experimenting with collage ideas.
♦ In my 2021 journal, which is a combination of collage, paint, photos, etc. Anything goes.
♦ On discarded book boards to create official Salvage Collages, which are for sale.
So join me for a whirlwind tour of the lady in the basement.
Here are a few photos of my scrapbook journal where I experiment with ideas for collages and create just for me. The journal itself was used as a scrapbook/workbook for someone in the Department of Marine Engineering and Naval Construction (1905) and the pages are filled with notes, drawings, assignments (with corrections and grading), and mimeographed training papers. I pulled out most of the glued in papers, but bits of residue are still present.
Next up is my 2021 journal. It is usually a paint journal, but this year I decided to create a junk journal, a journal I made using found papers to create three signatures, which I then sewed into a book where I had pulled out all of the book pages. This is a work in progress and I just started adding collage and paint at the beginning of the new year.
Finally, my ongoing Salvage Collages, always in some level of process, always spread out on the table; my washer and dryer are across from my work tables, making it convenient to throw in a load of laundry, then spin around and start puttering and auditioning scraps of papers, book pieces, or black and white photographs. During these work sessions, I usually find myself working on all three: Salvage Collages on book boards, my 2021 Journal, and my experimental vintage scrapbook/journal.
I am always trying to move my Salvage Collages in different directions, pushing what I have already done, finding new ways to use my materials. Recently, four friends gifted me lots of wonderful papers, ephemera, and photographs, and these new materials have been informing my latest work. (A special thank you to Sam, Bonnie, Jami, and Mavis for your generosity and interesting papers and photos.) Here is a selection from my most recent Salvage Collages.
Several of these new pieces are available at Salem on the Edge and others are available directly through me.
*It is also where I store all of my metal, wood, found objects, crazy collections, and miscellaneous stuff that defies classification. But today’s focus is on collage materials.
I have two pieces in the current Day of the Dead show at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria (on the Oregon Coast) and I want to share a bit about how the pieces were created. But first, the show. Tabor Porter is the curator and he invited his friends to participate. It is a small and intimate show in the Alcove of the gallery. Here is how Tabor describes the show:
The Day of the Dead reminds us to live our lives to the fullest; because death is always an integral, ever-present part of life. The present day Pandemic poignantly reminds us of that. So as we commemorate the death of our loved ones in celebration, we remind ourselves and others how important their lives were. In doing so we remind ourselves how important ours can be. This group of artists that I consider my friends endeavor to show us their relationship with this day of mourning and celebration.
The two pieces I created for the show are 4 inches wide and 48 inches tall, making them difficult to photograph. But here goes:
If you are interested in seeing the Day of the Dead show at RiverSea Gallery, the show will be up through November 10, 2020.
Now for the back story. I’ve been collecting random papers and ephemera for years and in more recent years, I have become an urban scavenger, pulling posters and fliers from telephone phones and buildings. As I was thinking ahead to Day of the Dead, I knew I wanted to incorporate some graffiti posters into my pieces, so as the pandemic put the state in lock down, Howard and I masked up and ventured to Portland in search of old, weathered, beat up, out-of-date fliers. The streets were empty and we were able to scavenge lots of fodder.
Let me tell you this about being an urban scavenger: you need gloves, tools to pull the bunched up posters from the telephone pole, and even if there isn’t a pandemic, you might want to wear a mask. The material is sometimes wet (don’t pull the posters from the bottom of the pole because sometimes it is a bit yellow, if you know what I mean), stinky with creosote, and buggy. So when we got all of the papers home, I aired them out in the garage and outside for several weeks.
Then once the paper was dryish and aired out, I had to handle every single piece to pull out all of the staples and nails. Again, gloves are a must.
Once the processing was complete, I sorted and loosely organized the materials into bins and boxes.
I used the pieces and scraps to create my two pieces for the DOTD show at RiverSea Gallery.
I have also used the scavenged posters and fliers in other ways; both for under layers in mixed media pieces as well as on book boards for my Salvage Collages.
On March 23, I created a handmade journal, which I titled The Great Pause, referring, of course, to the Corona virus pandemic. Since that time, I have continued to work on the pages, gluing in more fodder, pieces of old books, and lots of scraps from my collage bins. Besides continual alterations and additions, I have been writing on the pages, in no particular order, just finding the best space to write down thoughts, quotes, poems, rants, and even daily activities during such a strange period in my life. I decided it was time to share some of the pages, calling this post Part 2. I could offer a caution that some will be offended, but it’s my journal and my feelings, so I’ll not write about why I included what I included, but just share photos of some of my pages as they continue to morph and emerge.
My latest obsession has been exploring using little bits of book linen tabs, collected from when I rip books apart. I have quite a stockpile of these colorful little remnants.
I’ve been fascinated with the small size, the jewel-toned colors, and the raggedy edges since I began ripping books apart. In 2019 when I had my Salvage Collage show at Guardino Gallery, I first experimented with using the colorful little bits:
This was one of my favorite pieces from the show and when it sold, the design idea flew out the door along with the art. Until recently, when those little linen tabs started to make themselves known to me once again. Over the past week I’ve been playing and experimenting with them every time I walked into my studio; I started thinking of the little linen remnants as stitches used to hold pieces of paper together.
In mid March, all hell started to break loose as the Corona Virus began to consume our lives in one way or another. On Monday, March 23, Governor Brown mandated a statewide stay at home order. March 23 was the day I decided to create a journal where I could record not only what was taking place around the world and in Oregon, but also for me tucked safely inside my home. What was my new life going to look like in the upcoming weeks, or perhaps months.
The first thing I did was to make a journal using an old book and then gathering lots of paper fodder. I used book pages, music, scraps from torn apart books, and pieces of random papers, post cards, and handbills from my collage stash.
Once my papers were gathered, I bound the book using waxed linen thread and began embellishing the pages with scraps and raggedy book bits. Every day I would go through my journal and add interesting pieces to several pages, put wax paper between the pages, weigh it down overnight, and then come back the next day and do it all over again to different pages. I did this process of turning the pages and adding more day after day for three weeks.
Finally, on Monday, April 13, I declared that my journal was ready, the pages prepared.
At the same time, throughout the past three weeks, I have been writing notes to myself and making lists about the pandemic: sleeping in, routines, gift of time, rhythm of the day, tooth pain, sporty sneakers, oral surgery, helpless, daily walks, fake news, megalomaniac, self care, roller coaster . . . . .
I have printed things I have read: a poignant poem, a particularly good article on adjusting to how to live during this strange time, the timeline of how our president has fumbled and mismanaged the entire pandemic since the beginning. All things I feel inspired to record, share on my pages, or use as jumping off points for processing the range of emotions I have been feeling.
For now, I’m sharing a sampling of my pages before I make any entries, do any writing, make any lists, record poems and timelines, letting the beauty of the collages and materials speak for themselves.
Did I mention when I made the first journal that I made two more at the same time!?! What was I thinking?
I was the featured artist at our recent quarterly Open Studios at the Mill, held on February 13. My show focused on a series of revamped and new Salvage Collages as well as some acrylic paintings done on book board covers, utilizing my materials in a new way. I worked on pieces feverishly right up until it was time to get the show hung.
Artist Statement about my Salvage Collages:
Dayna Collins has always loved old books. She hyperventilates at the sight of books which are stained, defaced, torn or marked up. She rips battered books apart, reclaiming their faded fragments, and creates collages using only materials she has excavated. Dayna’s mixed media pieces reflect the passage of time, repurposing the scraps that are worn and weathered, transforming the aged and tattered pieces into something unexpected and beautiful, celebrating their fragile decay.
My husband hung my show in two stages, and it turns out he has quite a knack for curating and hanging.
The end result was quite nice.
Some of the pieces in the show:
And some of the paintings on book boards:
Many thanks to those who stopped in to say hello, and to Luis Noriega for attending our Open Studios and interviewing some of our artists for his podcast: Down the Rabbit Hole DTRH Podcast
Head’s Up: Next opportunity to see my Salvage Collages will be at a Pop – Up in July in Astoria, Oregon!
The opening reception for my show (with ceramic artist Michelle Gallagher) at Guardino Gallery, was on Thursday, July 25. It was a warm evening and lots of people were out enjoying art and the festivities of Last Thursday on Alberta.
The official photos:
The unofficial photos:
Thank you to everyone who came out for the opening and for those who have been visiting since the show opened.