I don't know about you, but when I used to hear the term "recycled art" or "art from recyclables," the first thing that came to mind was usually a picture of painted egg cartons. And it was not a pretty picture.
Of course, my experience with artwork through Cloth Paper Scissors has changed all that. I'm continually amazed at some artists' ability to take what is literally trash, scraps of paper and fabric, and art supplies and turn it all into something amazing that I'd want to wear or display in my home.
There are a number of artists who perform upcycled alchemy well, but there are four examples that immediately come to my mind now when I hear the words "recycled art."
Alisa Burke is an artist who brings new meaning to the term "trash to treasure." In the January/February 2009 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, she showed how she literally takes junk mail and cast-off plastic shopping bags from the recycling bin and turns it into clutch purses, wallets, and jewelry. Some ink here, some permanent pen scribbles there, a little stitching: works of wearable art.
My interest was piqued to the max when I first saw Linda Blinn's article on "Cheap Chic" in the November/December 2008 issue. Linda took plain natural linen fabric and drapes she'd stockpiled over the years and applied fabric paint via stencils and foam stamps. Then she added buttons and waxed linen thread-all from her stash-and whipped them into chic pillows. As I, too, have a stockpile of fabrics waiting to become fabulous home décor, Linda's tips have come in handy over and over again.
Jane LaFazio is one of those artists who can metaphorically turn straw into gold and make it look easy, too. So it was with her "Recycled Circles" tutorial in the March/April 2009 issue.
Using primarily fabric and paper scraps she had lying around, Jane made four collages, unifying the pieces with a film of gesso. Then she cut up the collages in fourths, rearranged the pieces to make four new collages, stitched circles on them to hold them together and for design, added a few beads, and voilà.
But I think my absolute favorite technique with cast-off scraps is Dorit Elisha's "Get Griddy" collage technique from the May/June 2009 issue. Dorit hates to throw away even the smallest scrap of painted paper or fabric. But how to arrange these disparate bits? She recycled an old technique: using a grid as a basis for composition.
Not only have I used this composition technique over and over again with my own pile of scraps, I liked Dorit's "Changing Seasons" collage so much I bought it. Not only do I love the colors and the leaf motifs, it's a daily reminder to waste not.
If you've missed any of these articles, you can get them right now at half price, during our back issues sale. And if you want to learn techniques from these artists in person, they'll all be at the Cloth Paper Scissors CREATE retreat in Costa Mesa, California, May 18-22.
So, what about you? Do you like to recycle scraps, recyclable materials, or even other pieces of art (UFOs, "bad" paintings) etc.? What are some of your best successes or favorite techniques? Leave a comment below so we can all learn.