« August Altered Calendar Pages | Main

September 30, 2006

What is "Fusing" Anyway?

Totebag by DJ Pettitt, world famous fused collage artist!

This beautiful tote bag was my prize acquisition from the phenomenal DJ Pettitt at Art & Soul this summer. I took her class on fusing and because I have posted some fused collages of my own since then, I've gotten questions about fusing . . . folks want to know, "What is fusing?" Oh my, I want to tell you that fusing is a term that DJ Pettitt uses for her original technique of "cooking" collage elements together and onto fabric or paper or probably anything you'd want to use. DJ is a natural talent who has a bent for things scientific - like experimenting! She has dreamed up many techniques among which is this magical "fusing" thing.

Djqueen_2 Djbookpage Djseekingmagical_1
Framed fused collage, book page with fused collage, and another fused collage piece by DJ Pettitt.

You could boil "fusing" down to the use of tar gel (a polymer medium by Golden) as an adhesive and fusing medium for collage, and then applying heat and pressure via an iron or heat press to "fuse" the collage. DJ describes her process in an article in the Cloth Paper Scissors Summer 2006 issue (Issue 7). In her July 27, 2006 post on her blog, gentle whispering hues, DJ says that she is now using tar gel instead of gel medium as described in the CPS article. Basically, she puts tar gel on primed, unstretched canvas, adds thin collage elements - both fabric and paper - making sure each piece has tar gel under and on top of it. She then sandwichs the assembled collage between silicon treated parchment paper or teflon craft sheets and heat presses it. Because any description of this process seems confusing, I highly recommend that anyone wishing to get this technique down, take one of DJ's classes.

Fusing results in a unique, smooth surfaced collage, which can be sewn or glued into other pieces. It works with almost any relatively thin element of collage: canvas, muslin, paper, photos, transparencies, sequins, fibers, etc. In her blog post, DJ says that the more pressure you apply while heating, the smoother the fused collage will be. Of course, you can incorporate hand painting or drawing before or after the fusing. DJ also does some artful, free form sewing on hers.

Fused collage by DJ Pettitt.

In a scan or photograph, the fused collage looks textured -- even to the naked eye -- but when you do the naturally compelled touch of the surface, you find, to your amazement that it is totally smooth, even when you run your fingers over the sequins! DJ takes the fused collage a step or two further by sewing onto it, gluing it to various bases, using it in making totes and purses, etc.

Honestly, this is the coolest technique resulting in a chic, smart looking piece of art. Thanks, DJ for all your work and congratulations on the upcoming technique book you plan to write in 2007 as requested by North Light Books. Please write it fast 'cuz we need you!

Remember to check out DJ's brand new blog, where she says she'll be "sharing bits of art and life" that are not on her website. You'll want to keep your eye on this dynamic artist, she will take you to places you might never dream of going.

Here are my fused collages to date some of which I've posted before:

Fuse172med_1 Trulyfresh72med_1
Book covers I completed as a result of DJ's class.

Veiledladyfin_2 Sallysignin_1 Homeright_1
"Veiled Lady," a fused collage; "Girl," a fused collage sign-in card; and "Home," a fused collage altered calendar page.

You may recall these fused pieces I've posted before. The main image in "Veiled Lady," which I posted right after I returned home from Art & Soul, is a Sculpey transfer on muslin that is then fused to canvas along with other paper and fabric college elements and ephemera. The sign in card is paper collage pieces and lace fused to watercolor paper. "Home" is a t-shirt transfer to sandwich paper fused along with a vintage photo and other paper collage pieces to a calendar page. My most recent previous post below (August 24, 2006) also has two fused collages I did recently for the MMCA altered calendar round robin.

DJ deserves my heartfelt thanks for all her industrious, hard work on this fusing process. I think it is brilliant and you can be sure you will be seeing more of it from me from time to time as I have bought a heat press and plan to use the fire out of it -- literally! I recommend that you all try DJ's fusing technique -- take a workshop if you get bogged down -- but by all means, learn it! You'll love it.


Thanks so much, Sally, for the great description and instructions on posting DJ's technique. I couldn't seem to find my instructions for this, so your posting came at the most opportune time.

Now all I need to find is more hours in the day!!

Hey there Sally! You are so kind to speak so highly of my art and fusing process. I appreciate the awesome job you did describing it. I may have to get you to help me write that book... you are so good with words and explaining things!
Big hugs to you Sally... I hope I have the pleasure of seeing you again soon!

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In