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Binder medium is the professional way to adhere collage elements to your fine art piece. I use Atelier brand (good on the Aussies !) and if the collage piece is completely sealed with the binder, there are no problems with further decay of items, or worries about acid free properties. Snake skin can be collaged onto canvas or paper or any surface, and it grows larger as it absorbs the wet binder, so it needs gentle massaging into its final shape as it expands. Ensure that there is plenty of binder underneath the skin, and that it is completely covered on the top with the binder, and that all edges are lying flat on the surface when you are finished. The larger scales on the underside of the skins do not adhere, so carefully cut them off with sharp scissors, especially if you are fortunate enough to have a complete skin, and not just bits and pieces.
I began using snake skin in my collages several years ago, as I was fortunate to have a nephew who had a pet python (named Monty of course) and who, as Monty grew, provided beautiful complete skins. My sister would mail them to me if I wasn’t able to visit: they arrived in a smelly large wet doughnut-shaped form which I would unroll and hang out to dry on the hills hoist.
Monty was quite large by the time my nephew had to find his snake a new abode (my nephew left home to go to Uni and my sister refused to continue on with the rat-feeding and bath tub-swimming duties) and in one of my works I was able to use most of the skin as the neck and body of the portrait figure (Mitchell Johnson as a coiled and deadly snake ready to attack the English cricket team):
“Ashes Death Stare” (Bald Archy entry accepted, exhibited in the National Tour and sold) Mixed Media on Canvas
In this following recent large work, which I completed as an entry when I was invited to participate in the 15 Artists 2016, I have used a complete snake skin both as a symbol in the theme of the work, and as a design element:
“Rock and a Hard Place” – Mixed Media on Canvas
My most recent work I began as a demonstration piece when teaching workshops in Kurrajong with the Combined Art Societies of Sydney’s Art in Action earlier this month – I will post an image of the painting when it is completed. The particular skin in this painting is a delicate small entire one complete with the head and empty vacant staring eye sockets – one of my sisters came across it on her property and carefully wrapped and presented it to me. I often find treasures such as small creatures and so, left as gifts in my mailbox by former students and friends – what treats! Just this week I received a box in the mail from my brother and sister-in-law up in Townsville – and yes! Another delicate snake skin in all its beauty lay there softly wrapped in tissue – such exquisite marks and design excellence– they make a fabulous addition to meaningful collage as part of your painting’s story.