First you need to decide on what your theme or content will be, no matter what medium you are going to do in artwork, that is the first step. As you already know, with this piece, my theme was my grandmother. I wanted the collage to be about her and her life. She loved her kids and was very proud of her many grandchildren and great grandchildren, so I also wanted to include them in the work. I knew if I tried to have independent photos of everyone in the family, it would end up being a wall mural rather than a poster size piece. That meant I had to go through all of my photos and find those that had her in them and then narrow some of them down to those that were of her with all the kids and grand kids. But I made a point of picking only photos that she was in. Once I had my pictures out and pretty sure those I wanted to use, I scanned them and printed them on non glossy paper. If you do not have a printer or one that doesn't do the quality of picture copies you are happy with, then you can always go to any store that does good quality photo copies. I would make sure that you do some in all different sizes, especially those that have a lot of people or content in them. You need a variety of sizes, and it is easier to fit all of your pictures on a project if you make some of them small. You can use the ones that you like most a little larger, I used some of the pictures of grandma up close and different stages in her life. As you can see in the picture to the right, I used a photo that is larger with a close up of her and her great grandchild.
Both of these pictures show some of the items I used to bring out her love of family and give the piece a flavor of what and who she was in life. You can use quotes you like printed on velum or paper. You can cut out images in clip art books. You can also purchase packages and books full of paper image that are designed for doing collage type projects. I also made copies of some of the cards she had saved from family members to cut out and use, but you are not destroying the original item. Using copies of originals are easier to use, because if you make a mistake, or do not like the way it looks, you can redo it again. That is also why you want to use copies of photos, so you still have the originals to save however you choose. I also suggest that you buy an art work fixative spray and use it on all of your copies, drawings, stamping, or hand writing you did to use in your project. If you do this, there is less chance that you will have any kind of bleeding of ink or color in your projects. It is something I just have gotten into the habit of doing, since I use a lot of copied material and my own drawings, and it is so frustrating when you put the finish on and something bleeds. I like to use Krylon Workable Fixatif spray, but there are other brands out there too. You can use buttons, ribbon, old jewelry pieces that are not valuable, lace and just about anything you think makes a project have a 'feel' or personality to it. I chose to use some inexpensive jewelry pieces I had, like a butterfly and dragonfly pin that I found somewhere. I just removed the pin backs from them. The rhinestones made them stand out so well and were things that she would have loved. I also found some old skeleton keys that would give a vintage feel. The copies of the cherubs and fairies were something she would have smiled at as well. There is no limits to what you can use to capture the personality of someone, or the feel that you are looking for.
After you have gotten the basic lay out with the photos, you can start using the decoupage glue/finish to the base. If you are afraid you will not like the placement and may want to rearrange the photos, you can do what I often do and use a non permanent sticky product to place your items that are going to lay flat on the base(you can move them around again and again until you are happy with placement). Once you have them where you want them you can then use the decoupage finish/glue over them. You might want to know that if you use velum, or a velum with a quote on it , that velum is famous for getting 'wrinkly' after you use a decoupage finish over it. I like the look, because it gives it more character and vintage feel, but some don't, so I would do a trial with a small piece of velum separately to see if you like it, before using it on your project. After that coat dries you can then use dimensional sticky tape, or sticky dimensional sheets with different sizes to apply other photos and items. The foam sticky pieces apply to the back of the item you are placing and attach it to your project. I used it to make some of the photos and flowers etc. stand out and make the project have so much more depth. I then use a good craft glue to attach the heavy pieces, such as jewelry,the metal letters that spell her name, buttons and also ribbon or trims like the tassel trim I used. After the glue totally dries and you have the 'standing out' objects all where they are to stay, use another coat of the decoupage glue/finish over the total project again. It will make your project much more durable and able to even touch. You can not tell by the photos, but the tassel trim I used is actually permanently placed and hard. It gives it a finish that holds permanently, but does not take away from the look. You have to reach out and touch the tassels to feel that they are hard and permanent. They look like they are still dangling free, but are very intact and solid.
Friends in art, sandy