A quick and easy way to get good at collages is to make a gluebook. I’ve been making a variety of gluebooks for YEARS, and they’re still my favorite style of mixed media art. Most of my art journals end up being some form of gluebook, actually!
What is a gluebook?
Literally, it’s a book you glue things into!
Well, it’s not JUST that…it’s more like a collection of collages, usually in a bound notebook. Unlike a mixed media art journal, a gluebook relies only on two tools: a gluestick, and scissors. Sometimes not even scissors, if you’re good at tearing! There’s no paint, ink, stamps, or stencils. It’s ONLY images, glued onto a page.*
*If you want to expand the definition of a gluebook to include paint or stamps or stencils, the art police will not come to your door demanding you give it up.
I really love making gluebooks! I find the process of creating collages relaxing, and it’s fun to try making a collage with a theme. Also, I like not having to pull out a bunch of art supplies– I can literally do this anywhere at any time, I just need a gluestick and some stuff to glue.
What to include in collages?
What can you glue down in your collage-filled gluebook?
Anything, really: magazine pages, vintage ephemera (or reproduction vintage ephemera), brochures, book illustrations, newspaper ads, postage stamps, snippets from letters, foreign money, food packaging or stickers, junk mail, drink labels, movie tickets, receipts, tissue paper, wrapping paper, greeting cards, etc. etc.
I also recommend either glueing in a date or writing it somewhere when you’ve finished a page. It’s a handy reference for future-you!
What notebook makes a good gluebook
Pretty much any kind of book or notebook that you’d like: a composition book (my fave), handmade notebook, old junky vintage book, a tiny travel art journal, a few pages you’ve stapled together, a $1 notebook from Daiso, etc. etc.
Keep in mind that because you’ll be glueing an entire layer of paper to a single page, whatever notebook you use will get VERY chunky. You can get around that by tearing out every other page before you start glueing, or by using adjustable ring binding.
You could also glue onto plain sheets of paper, and then store finished pages in a photo or scrapbook album.
What do gluebook collages look like?
Here’s some examples of my own gluebook pages from years past (click to enlarge any image):
This is one of my first gluebook spreads I ever made– way back in October 2010! It’s hosted in a desk planner from 1989 which I got from a thrift store for…$1, maybe?
I lived in Albuquerque back then, and I wanted to make a collage themed around ABQ. You can see it’s mostly magazine images, business brochures, and snips from a local newspaper.
Here’s another favorite gluebook spread from around the same time:
This one has magazine images (National Geographic and a lifestyle one, I think), a napkin, a catalog, and some leftover snips from other collages. This one was more about coordinating colors than anything else.
As you can see, I tend to pile a bunch of images together into a chaotic collage, and I love to fill every inch of available space. That’s why I tend to use cheap, no-name notebooks or upcycled vintage books, because I’m going to just cover all the pages with glued-on stuff anyway. I tend to move fast and loose when I’m making a gluebook page: I don’t want to think too much and ruin the flow of creation.
But some other people make more peaceful art, with plenty of room. Or sometimes they get VERY abstract! Gluebooks are really just whatever you enjoy about doing collage, focused down onto one type of medium.
More info, please!
Interested in making your own gluebook? Here’s some more resources which can help you out:
- Gluebook Facebook group
- Discovering Gluebooks: How to Stop Focusing on Products & Start Making More Art by Lisa Vollrath
- #gluebook on Instagramfor inspirational images
- Gluebooks Flickr group (my OG hangout)
I’d love to see any gluebooks you’ve made! Drop a link in the comments.