Thursday, June 28, 2018

Collage Art 101 With Gel Prints by Joanna Grant

Hello everyone! I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the amazing group of artists who make up the Gelli Arts® Artists Team. I’ve been a fan of Gelli Arts® products since they first came on the market and love to share my projects using them.

As a mixed media artist who specializes in recycling stuff into art for others to treasure, I have found that using my Gel Printing Plate adds another level of “cool” to my art. Today, I am going to share an easy recycling art project that has been super popular with my students. It’s also a project that will allow you try your hand at collage art if it’s new to you. And because this is a small-scale project, you won’t find it too intimidating if collage is something you haven’t tried before. I promise!!

One of the many recycled things I have used in my art over the years are old CDs which I love to turn into small collage art magnets. There’s something just so fun about working “in the round” on these little unintended substrates. Let me show you how!

CDs you no longer want
Flat backed magnet (see photo below at Step 3 – I recommend the business card sized magnets)
Various glues: 
Glue stick, White glue or gel medium, and E-6000 or Goop
Assorted gel prints you wish to use as the base of your mixed media art
All kinds of other materials to use as accents and embellishments

Step 1:
Choose a CD you wish to use and decide which side of it is going to have your art created on it and which will be the back (to which the magnet will be adhered). I generally try to leave the clean side of the CD for the back and use the written side (or label side) on which to create the art since it’s going to be covered up anyway. Because I sell most of my CD art, I like the back to look as good as it can. In the image below you’ll see I have two CDs along with the plastic protective liner that is on the top of a package of new stack of CDs. Might as well use this too!

Step 2:
Choose your gel prints that will become the base of your artwork you’re going to create on top of the CD. This is a great project to use up some of those prints you aren’t too happy with, as we are going to cover them up (somewhat) with collage art anyway.

Glue the gel print to the CD and allow it to dry completely before carefully trimming the excess paper away from around the edges of the CD. I like to use either a heavy-bodied white glue (I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue here) or a fairly heavy gel medium. Don’t use your glue stick. It won’t have the strong adhesion you’ll want for this application. 

Once cut out, check around the edges of the CD to make sure you have good adhesion to the paper. Use a toothpick with a small dab of white glue to tack down any spots you might have missed. Here’s what my example pieces look like once they were cut out.

Step 3:
When everything is dry, flip the CD over and take one of your business-card magnets, peel off the backing paper to reveal the sticky side of the magnet and adhere it to the back of the CD. I usually position mine centrally to cover the hole of the CD. Then, I clean up the back side of any paint or glue.

NOTE:  you can use other types of magnets, of course, if you can’t find the business-card magnets I’ve used here. Be sure to adhere them with E-6000 or Goop to ensure they will hold well.

Step 4:
Now the fun begins! Here’s where you can create anything you want to make your CD collage art. In the examples below, I have made little collaged persons out of a variety of images and papers, including some more gel prints. I’ve also used some rubber stamps and bits of text taken from a magazine.

What have you got in your art stash that would make a great collage? Do you have little bits of cool things that you’ve been saving (also known as hoarding in my world, LOL) to use just for a special, small-scale project? Here’s your chance to use those pieces!

Take all the little bits you’ve chosen for your collage and play with them on top of the gel print. Move them around until you get a pleasing arrangement. Cover up areas of the background you don’t like and let areas you do like show through.

It’s up to you how much you add to your collage or what you add. The sky is the limit! I am a firm believer that I will just “know” when a piece is done and I don’t fuss about it too much. If you aren’t sure if you need to add more stuff to it, set it aside for a day and then come back to it. Don’t overthink it!!

I’ve used a glue stick (generously applied) to adhere all the little bits of paper to the background of the examples you’ll see below. You can also use gel medium or white glue. When you are all done with adding flat elements to the CD, give it several coats of gel medium or some other kind of sealant. Magnets tend to take a bit of wear and tear and although art magnets should not be handled too much, it doesn’t hurt to give them a fighting chance by coating them several times. I normally put on about five coats in total. At this point you can attach any 3D elements as the top layer to your collage with E-6000 or Goop.

That's it, you're done! How easy was that? These art magnets are so much fun to make and they do becomes quite addictive. They make great presents for friends and family and who doesn't having a boring file cabinet at work that needs a bit of artsy pizzazz.

And what other kinds of recycled materials would make a good substrate for your gel printing/collage art? I hope this project has inspired you to look around your home and studio and see what else could be put to use for future fun projects.

It’s a great feeling to keep stuff out of our landfills. It’s an even greater feeling to turn that stuff into something to treasure! Thanks for being here to share in this project. Happy printing!!


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All rights reserved.


  1. Great idea, my nephew will love it! Thank you

  2. What a great idea of recycling those old CDs!

  3. Love the cd idea! Thanks for sharing your lovely work.

  4. These are stunning! Love them :-)

  5. Such a clever and innovative way of upcycling unwanted items into works of art! Very inspiring. Thank you.

  6. More great ideas from the lovely Gelli Arts artists. I love Gelli prints! thanks

  7. Awesome piece!!

    Blessings, Kathy H

  8. I love the apron - I really need one. The colorful sleeves are great!

  9. I love circles. This is a fun idea! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Love this idea - I've got a lot of bits and pieces I can use-- thanks

  11. wow !!! beautiful and so lovely work :) i really like your good idea so much.Thank for sharing.



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