Making Window Collages

So a few people have asked about how I make my window collages. A few years ago, I taught a workshop on how to do this technique on a smaller scale, some of the images shown here are from this workshop and NOT my artwork, but they show the process. I shared these steps in an online lecture at EBSQ. You can read more from that 2004 workshop at EBSQ.

The windows are a long PROCESS. And admittedly I haven’t taken on the task since I moved my studio to the attic some 3 years ago. I only have a little pull-down ladder access to my studio so hauling up big heavy windows from the basement hasn’t been a priority. I have been adapting this technique to fabric instead. But if they start selling at the gallery I will need to get back in gear with this style of collage. I still have several windows waiting for their transformation and even sketches from the hand series that I began. My paper collection has not dwindled by any means… but could use some reorganization. So this gallery opening has in fact been an inspiration and motivation to get back with it.

So here is how I create my window collages….

I start with a theme, “faces” was the last one and now I am on to “hands”

  • Then I take pictures of live models.

Photo from a modeling session for the faces series…

…and the piece that came directly from this photo

  • Next I do sketches to the size of what I want the final collage to be, usually based on a window I have lying around. (I measure the window and cut butcher paper to the right size.)
  • Then, I will sketch directly onto the window with dry erase markers.
  • At some point, I will select my papers. I use handmade papers, books, maps among many others, usually to match the theme or message of the piece. Sometimes I have the color theme or a particular paper in mind before I do the sketches.
  • I then use the butcher-paper sketch as a pattern to cut out the paper (those that sew…I use it just like a sewing pattern, I pin the sketch to the handmade papers and cut out the lines and sections of the image.) Everything is paper, I do not use any paint.

A student example of Cutting paper from the pattern

  • I glue the paper onto the back of the glass, I work backwards starting with the very top layer. The top layer is usually the outlines of the figure. Those that do traditional collage know this is completely backward from how you would normally work a collage. I use acrylic gloss or flat medium as my adhesive.

A student Gluing from the backside

  • I put on text and the image outlines first, then fill in with torn papers.

This shows a piece with just the outline completed in black paper. This pattern was adapted from a ‘stain-glass’ coloring book, easily found in crafts stores and is a great way to get patterns for smaller pieces.

  • Finally, I wash off the sketch from the front of the glass, that was used as a guideline of where to place the paper lines. and it is done.

Cindi’s P. Frida

For my larger pieces, the whole process will take months, as I will work with the theme in a group. doing pictures and sketches of the whole series together. But an actual window collage I can do in about 2 solid days if I get inspired. But usually they sit in parts, waiting for inspiration for the next phase. In the workshop, we worked for about 3 hours and most people did have to complete their piece at home.