Jonathan Talbot’s Collage Fusing Method

Many collage artists attach paper elements with acrylic matte or gloss medium. Jonathan Talbot discovered another technique, which requires that the collage materials be precoated with acrylic medium, which is allowed to dry before work on the collage begins. The compositional elements are then cut, torn, manipulated or otherwise arranged until the artist comes up with a satisfactory composition. The elements are then adhered with heat, which reactivates the adhesive qualities of the acrylic medium. This technique—and variations of it—works with paper, fabric, foil, string and other similar materials.

Prepare the Substrate
Coat the substrate (support)—for example, an all-rag matboard—with acrylic medium (gloss). You can tone the surface with a neutral-value acrylic paint before applying the acrylic medium.

Prepare the Materials
Coat both sides of the materials you anticipate using with acrylic medium (gloss). Normally, one side is painted with medium; that side is allowed to dry (you can hang the pieces on a string or you can dry them on screening known as poultry mesh); then the other side is painted.

Create the Composition and Adhere the Elements
The precoated materials are then cut or torn into the desired shapes. When the artist is happy with the composition or arrangement, the elements are covered with release paper—paper that has been impregnated and coated with silicone in order to provide a nonstick surface, not unlike Teflon. (Release paper is used behind self-adhesive labels and during the drymounting process in frame shops.) Next a tacking iron (a small version of a household iron) is used to apply pressure and heat, which cause the acrylic coating on the surface of the elements to fuse with the acrylic coating on the substrate.

Excerpted from Collage: A New Approach (2001) by Jonathan Talbot, available at

Jonathan Talbot is one of three collage artists featured in the January/February 2008 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, available at




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