Art and Inspiration DIY and Recipes Highlight Tools and Materials

Great, Unique Art From Insignificant Materials

There’s something irresistible about “junk” when it’s uniform and clean and carefully sorted. Like bins of bottle caps or pill containers or wine corks or rulers… I’m sure there’s a name for this feeling – the desire to dig in and play with the things, the feeling that despite being “worthless”, they have some kind of intrinsic value.

Two places taught me the joy of this experience – SCRAP PDX and The Rebuilding Center. There I saw rolls of wire, shelves of yarn, boxes full of drawer pulls or crayons or tiles – all used, all things that would ordinarily be thrown away as garbage. But they sparked multitudes of creative ideas in my head.

And not in mine alone – take a look at some of this fabulous use of throw-away stuff by noteworthy creatives!

Lady Day – bottle cap portrait by Molly Bright

Metal bottle caps Molly Bright She says “I was inspired by remembering my grandparent’s desk. The drawers were filled with things that might have been thrown away but were saved by people who were molded by depression-era frugality; old rubber bands, corks, bottle caps, balls of string, 2″ pencil nubs.”

Wish House/Dream House by Virginia Fleck

Aluminium pull tabs Virginia Fleck She says “I was at a scrap-yard, seven months pregnant, perusing scrap metal, when I came upon a treasure-chest-sized bin overflowing with gleaming silver aluminium tabs.  The sight of these tabs, separated from the cans, sparkling in the bright sunlight was like a mirage among the rusted scrap. I was overcome by their unexpected beauty and traded the few dollars crumpled in the pocket of my maternity dress for a bucket of sparkly tabs. ” (She makes mandalas from used plastic bags as well – some are pictured above)

Anastassia Elias’ work with WaterAid, depicting cities with little or no access to toilet facilities

Toilet paper rolls Anastassia Elias She says “I have always enjoyed experimenting with materials that people might otherwise throw away, which is why I started working with toilet rolls; recreating scenes from my surroundings that have inspired me. People sometimes find it surprising that I make art out of such an ordinary, everyday household item but I think their size and my use of perspective helps to draw people in to another world.”

Close/Closer self-portrait by Mary Ellen Croteau

Plastic bottle caps Mary Ellen Croteau She says “I firmly believe in the power of the visual, and my work is my voice: a social critique and a visual challenge to all the cultural detritus we are force-fed every day. My art is about looking at things in a slightly different way, and is intended to undermine the status quo with wit and humor.” (Take a look at her tutorial explaining how to make projects like this)

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