Skip to content
The Fabled Threadreturn to home page
Round Ups

Finding Inspiration in Paper: Three artists working in collage

If you have been following our instagram account for a while, you will no doubt have seen my slight obsession with paper crafts. Whilst textiles and embroidery are my first love, they are slower paced crafts. If you start a new embroidery, it can be hours, days, or even weeks before you start to really get a feel for how the finished design will look. Often I only really get total confidence that a design is going to be successful in the final 10% of the stitching... until that point I am working with blind faith!

This means that at times I want to be able to play with a craft that is a bit quicker, so I can experiment with ideas and designs concepts without yet committing to fully stitching them. That is where collage comes in! I have found collage to be the closest craft form to textiles for a couple of core reasons. Firstly, you are working with fixed materials, be it your patterned paper or coloured paper sheets: you aren't mixing colours in situ as happens with painting so their is a decision process and constraint on the design which is comparable to stitching. Secondly, you are often combining lots of different patterns and having to choose which sit alongside each other comfortably, and which are just a bit too much.

If you are interested in how this process of using collage as a precursor to textiles has led to some of the embroidery kits you see today, or how you can explore this process within your own textiles crafts, then you can explore our freestyle embroidery course here.

Freestyle embroidery course

However in this piece, I want to highlight five inspirational artists currently working in collage.

Mark Hearld

View from Mark Hearld's exibition "Raucous Invention: The Joy of Making" at the Yorkshire Sculpture park from 13 Nov 2021 to 6 Feb 2022

It would be impossible to write an article on artists working in collage today and not to start with the inspirational Mark Hearld. Whilst he is certainly not constrained to one medium, working across ceramics, lithography, sculpture, linocut printing, ceramics... Mark is often best known for his collage work. His work takes inspiration from the British countryside and flora and fauna. To me his pieces capture the feeling of the countryside, from the golden straw fields to the hedgerows bursting with life. His work is full of colour and pattern, but all so carefully combined to not overwhelm the story. You can find Mark on Instagram here or take a look at his books through St Judes which are very inspiring.

Dahlia Fireworks. Collage, hand decorated frame by Mark Hearld. Credit: Mark Hearld via The Scottish Gallery
Folk at Heart, 2023. Collage, papercut, hand decorated frame by Mark Hearld. Credit: Mark Hearld via The Scottish Gallery
Whimsical Bird IX, Collage, hand decorated frame by Mark Hearld. Credit: Mark Hearld via The Scottish Gallery

Jo Waterhouse

Jo Waterhouse Collage [check name with Jo]. Credit:

I could rhapsodies endlessly about the genius of Jo Waterhouse - her work is full of character, playful, witty and complex. I first came across her collages via images from the Firmdale Hotels by Kit Kemp, a champion of British artists, and have been obsessed ever since. Her art is incredibly sought after so whilst originals are snapped up, she does offer fine art glicee prints of her work (I have a few which I adore!) and also separately runs the stationary business Hadley Paper Goods. Through these channels her work is very accessible. I highly recommend you follow her on Instagram and take a look at her blog as she is so very entertaining. I particularly loved a series she did where she recreated the characters behind her collages.

The Basket Maker by Jo Waterhouse. Credit:
The Quilter by Jo Waterhouse. Credit:
The Knitter by Jo Waterhouse. Credit:

Marion Elliot

Part of the design for a tea towel. Credit: Marion Elliot via Instagram

Marion Elliot is an artist and teacher from Ludlow in Shropshire, working primarily in collage. She has a great love for folk and vernacular art and her style is so distinctive for the eye-popping colours and her depiction of whimsical fantastical activities. She sells original collages, but also creates ranges of products based on her designs from card, to tea towels to calendars. I am particularly a fan of her applique work - she carries her same distinctive aesthetic and vibrant colours through into felt cushions, dolls and more. Take a look at her work via her Instagram or for sale through her Etsy.

Citron De Tangier, design for a tea towel by Marion Elliot. Credit: Marion Elliot via Instagram
A Marion Elliot applique cushion in the home of Sean Anthony Pritchard. Credit: Sean Anthony Pritchard via Instagram
A busy night at the circus. Cut paper collage by Marion Elliot. Credit: Marion Elliot via Instagram