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Getting Started: Organizing Materials

Never throw anything away - at least until you consider its value as possible collage/assemblage material. Now even junk mail has value!

The trick is to organize your materials so you can find them again quickly when you're in the middle of a project. Clear-ish plastic storage boxes like the ones manufactured by Sterilite are invaluable for this. I'm using shoe-box size(approx.6x11x4.5 inches) and sweater-box size (approx. 10x12x5 inches). The larger size is great for holding sheets of letter-size paper. Items are grouped thematically (eg."Botanical Stuff" "Greeting and Post Cards" or "Game Pieces") and the sides of the boxes are labeled.

I spend time in the care and feeding of my image file: magazine clippings in legal-sized folders arranged by topic. Start with very general headings which get sub-divided when they become too unwieldy to browse through: "people" recently split into "figures" and "faces."

When I'm beginning a new collage, I like to prepare lots of images. I usually coat so many pieces that by the time the first side of the last piece is covered, the first piece is dry enough for coating the second side. As a result, I am building a collection of ready-to-place pieces that I can fall back on when I'm stuck with a composition that isn't working out.

It's important to protect these pre-coated images from sticking to each other in storage. For images up to 10x6 inches I use polypropylene bags. Larger images are protected between sheets in a pad of tracing paper.