For the last three years,  members of our facebook group Muse Studio have participated in a mail art exchange called Muse Mail. This year the only guideline is that our pieces need to be 6′ x 6′ squares so they will fit in a 7′ x 7′ square paper mache box that we have all purchased. Each month we send and receive one piece of original art. At the end of the year we will each have 12 pieces of original art that will go in our custom designed art box.

Because I tend to get very ‘fussy’ in my creative process, often taking hours on things that end up buried under many layers of collage and paint, I decided to try something different this year.  In general, I really enjoy painting on top of collage and rarely just start with a white page.  Usually when I create these mail art pieces, I only work on one at a time.  This year I decided to challenge myself by doing all of the backgrounds at once. I also love the idea that each artist will receive a piece of art that was once a part of something larger.  Although each 6 x 6 is going to a different artist, I like that they are somehow all still connected to each other.

I started by randomly selecting a handful of collage papers from my collection. I then cut the paper into 50 2′ x 10′ pieces.  I used my special Yes! Paste recipe to mount the collage on an 18 x 24 120 lb piece of watercolor painter, being careful not to get any of the glue on top of the paper. As it often does, some of the paste did get on the paper when I used a credit card to mount the paper to the substrate. I just took baby wipes and wiped down the edges where the paste had escaped.

Next I took a mixture of white and clear gesso and did a light coat over the collage to tone it down a bit. I waited about 15 minutes, then did a second coat. Once this dried I cut the paper into 12 6′ x 6′ squares.

This was really a fun project, and a new way of working. Typically I would have spent 2 hours on each background. I was able to do all this in less then 3 hours, avoiding my usually fussy way of doing things.