Technique: Collage Background 2

The books were small–clearly children’s versions of classics. A closer look revealed real leather bindings and adult classics–full text, not abridged. They were just small. The leather was disintegrating, and try as I might, it would not be restored. Pages began to sift out of the small books. I’d found them at a garage sale, and I didn’t want to throw them away.collage bookcover

So I gathered them up and arranged them on a piece of heavy watercolor paper. When I had a pleasing arrangement, I put a piece of parchment over the arrangement and turned it face down, then lifted the watercolor paper. I brushed Golden’s Matte Medium on the watercolor paper, and carefully pressed it on the page-down arrangement. That gave me the exact arrangement I had before.

Using a metal ruler, I turned the entire piece over, watercolor paper, glued pages and parchment. I lifted off the parchment, made sure the pages were arranged the way I wanted them, and let the arrangement dry.

Once it was dry, I coated the back with Matte Medium to keep the page from curling. When that side was dry, I turned it over and coated the page collage with three layers of Matte Medium. I then punched the holes for the Rollabind rings.

Had I wanted the pages to be a background for a collage, I would have thinned an ivory or mushroom-colored acrylic paint with Matte Medium and painted at least one, but probably two coats to create a background.

If you prefer a busier background, use a large-toothed comb and drag is carefully across the painted surface. It will create an interesting pattern. You can also apply the thinned paint first, then lift some of it off with a damp sponge, creating a different effect that is quite appealing.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach and artist. See her work at

Easy Tips, Easy Travel

Some things I’ve learned on the road to make the trip easier:

1.Room-service breakfasts are great you travel alone, particularly if you are shy. Often the toast arrives cold. Butter the toast sparingly and warm it using the hair dryer. Warm toast, melted butter. Life is good.

2. Room service rolls or biscuits arrive hard and cold? Use the spare washcloth, soak in hot water, wring as dry as you can manage. Drape over whole plate, heat from top with hair dryer. Moist, warm rolls.
3. Splurge on fast-dry underwear from outdoor/adventure gear supplier. Wash a pair every night, and you’ll only need three for a trip: one to wear, one drying, and a spare.

4. The TSA make you put your gels and liquids in a quart-size Ziplock bag. Pack a few extra Ziplocks; they serve many purposes. Fountain pens and some gel/roller pens leak on long airplane trips. Put them in a Ziplock, no worries. Ziplocks separate dirty socks from clean; dole out snacks like trail mix into convenient one-serving sizes; contains chocolate mess if your bag gets put next to the heater vent; keeps toothpaste and toothbrush together, but separate from the hairbrush. Ziplocks hold ice to soothe sore joints or a hot-water soaked washcloth for warmth.

5. If you like to wear sneakers or other lace-up shoes on a trip, but have trouble re-tying them after going through airport security, change shoelaces to Yankz. Adjustable at two points, the stretchy shoelaces let you get in and out of your shoes without untying them and stay comfortably snug. Available from sports retailers like Sahalie.

6. Lip balm is a must-have on dry airplanes or windy, sunny or cold climates. Clear is the easiest to use. For women, start with a lip pencil applied on the whole lip, then use lip balm to create a lipstick-fresh look with lip balm comfort. Clear lip balm can also soothe extra-dry cuticles and keep unruly eyebrows in place.

7. Outdoor gear stores carry small rolls of duct tape. Duct tape fixes suitcases that have split, holds up a hem in an emergency. In case of a real emergency, a hotel fire, duct tape seals the cracks around a door to keep out smoke. If you leave your room, you can tape open the stairway lock so you don’t lock yourself out. Mark the door on the floor you are leaving with a duct-tape X and if you have to come up again in a smoky stairwell, you’ll know which door it was.

8. Traveling alone? Ask for two keys when you check in. Someone who is watching to see if you are alone, will think you are traveling with someone. Then put one key in your purse or breifcase, another in your coat pocket. One key will always be quickly available.

9. Carry your favorite herbal teabags or loose tea with you. Heat water in the hotel coffeemaker, use some to heat the cup and the rest to make tea. Brew up a cup of camomile for a relaxing way to drop off to sleep if you are in the wrong time zone. Loose tea can be carried in a Ziplock with some folded filters. A coffee maker can be a tea maker, too.

10. Carry postcard stamps on your trip. You can make colleagues or friends feel special by sending them postcards while you are away. If you don’t know the addresses, write them on blank labels before you leave.

– -Quinn McDonald is a traveler, writer and certified creativity coach. See her work at