Monday, April 22, 2013

Not your average bEARTHday

Today is Earth Day, the day we respect the earth and recycle, recover, rethink, re-invent, repurpose, remake, redesign, reuse, reclaim, and recraft, while we reduce waste going to our landfills and recycle centers.

In case you don't live in one of more than 192 countries that celebrate Earth Day, here is a reminder of what Earth Day is all about.

Back in 1969, while America was in the throes of the Vietnam War, which some may remember, a group of anti-war movement students got together, and decided, with the help of then Senator Gaylord Nelson (June 4, 1916 – July 3, 2005), to have an environmental teach-in.  Before the event, the name was changed to Earth Day and was first held on April 22, 1970.   It was decided at that time to hold the event every year on April 22.

The time seemed right to Nelson, because of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and the deterioration of the environment in general.  After all, many groups had already been fighting against oil spills, toxic waste and sewage, polluting power plants and factories, pesticides, a growing ozone, air pollution, timber cuts beyond control, and a shrinking wilderness.  It was time to bring all those groups together, since there always seems to be safety in numbers.  And the numbers were there, too, since many sites claim over 20 million people in the United States celebrated the first Earth Day.

After that, it didn't take Congress (US) long to pass the Clean Air act, Clean Water act, Safe Drinking Water act, and several laws to protect wilderness areas. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), was created within three years after Nelson’s April 22, 1970 Earth Day celebration.

Fast forward to 2013, and you no longer see beaches strewn with garbage, smoke billowing from factories, or raw sewage headed for rivers and streams.  What you also don't see is the same environmental awareness that brought about these environmental laws and changes in Congress in the 1970s.  Today we are told by people like Newt Gingrich that the EPA should be replaced, while Mitt Romney, when running for President, wanted the head of the EPA fired.

Today is a good time to reflect on my own love of, and respect for, the environment.   I've been known to stand up for my parks, the two rivers that define my neighborhood, and the fact that I try to use what I buy, rather than tossing it in the trash or recycle bin.  The fact that I was born on this great day we celebrate our Earth, and that people call me "Dr. E, Queen of Free," adds to my resolve.

My tribute to Earth Day 2013 begins with some fabric I colored last month using food coloring for dye.  I copied a picture of North America and colored it using my Fabric crayons seen in this post when I worked on another project.  I dyed some gauze and sewed it over printed words I colored.  It's too bad you can't see I sewed the words with variegated green thread before I sewed the gauze in place.

This has been a difficult 22 days.  You see, I wanted to include a few things any mixed media artist might use in my quest for recycled projects.  What I learned while trying to get ideas from the internet was that most "green" art is designed for children, and is meant to be made by children with a bit of adult supervision.

For example, I drink a TON of half and half in my coffee.  I save my (paper) cartons because they make excellent fire starters for my chiminea. Covered with wax, these cartons burn slowly, thus providing an excellent chance for small sticks to quickly light on fire.  However, there are only so many fires I can start each season, so finding a good alternative for these cartons uses in mixed media can be hard.  I could have made a bird feeder or even a bird house, but those seemed a bit childish and not exactly what I would call mixed media.  There are many examples on the internet and YouTube if you are interested in making one or both.

Of course, you can always make houses like Lilla did for her Advent Calendar.

Then there's this one found on Maya*Made. This is one I might actually be willing to reproduce.

One thing you won't catch me making is anything like this piece made by Dieter Roth.

Using a Lindt chocolate bunny mold, Roth made a series of these bunnies using rabbit dung.  This is a copyrighted photo which is from Roth's Wikipedia biography page.  It shows how dark mixed media can be, yet how ingenious it is when you have no idea what the piece consists of.

Of course there is always the occasional fun find

like this one using soda bottles I found at Dollar Store Crafts.

And then there's The Crafty Crow, who has collected a plethora of crafts made with plastic lids.

This one, made by Plum Pudding includes both plastic and metal lids.  It sort of looks like a birthday cake, don't you think?

Then there are a few things I've made, including

several birds

 using tin can lids and various embellishments and backgrounds,

in addition to a rusty lid that became the centerpiece of a fabric and paper page in my Rust Altered Book.

For this quiltlet, I began with a background of several layers of dress maker tissue to which I added fabric samples from Sunbrella.  Over that I sewed a dress pattern and a sheet of recycled Christmas see-through wrap.  All embellishments were recycled from a miniature sewing kit.

I love to recycle old file folders. The file folders were first sprayed (with spray paint) through a lacy cloth, then allowed to dry.  Some were sprayed with two different colors.  I then added several plastic spoons that had been dropped on the floor, a set of chop sticks from a Chinese deli, and a paper plate.  I sprayed again, this time outlining the plate and spoons.   After the folders were dry and I had taken these photos, I cut the tabs/protrusions off the file folders and used them for backgrounds. 

Here's what I wrote back on April 21, 2010 when I finished this piece for my friend Kathy:
The above piece is made from a KFC dinner lid covered with dress pattern tissue, then layered with painted corrugated cardboard, cheesecloth, an image, sheet music, and the definition of birthday. To complete the piece and hide the protrusion at the top, I added two gold covered ornaments Kathy gave me. She'll get a kick out of the fact I used them in her gift! It's an Earth Day special.
Later, I used some rub-n-buff to create a patina and knock the shine off those two ornaments at the top of the piece.

For these brooches/broaches, I began with two mirrors to which I added buttons and deconstructed clock hands.  This photo was taken before pin backs were added.  I apologize for the blurry photos.  Seems the only thing in focus is my popcorn ceiling reflected in the mirrors.  Don't you just love popcorn ceilings (NOT)?

Please don't forget to sign up for my giveaway that ends at midnight Central Daylight Time (CDT), April 24.  See my right sidebar for Wichita time which is CDT.  You need to leave nothing more than a comment on THIS POST (takes you to a new screen) for a chance to win the book "Layered, Tattered, and Stitched" by Ruth Rae.  It's another way I can give back to this wonderful blogging community.

I hope you enjoyed this Earth Day bEARTHday wrap-up on Day 22.  I'm off doing something good for the earth today, or sharing a meal with friends, whichever comes first (grin).  I'll share bEARTHday photos with you tomorrow during Tea Tuesday, then return Wednesday with the beginning of another recycled project. 

16 thoughtful remarks:

Helen said...

Happy bEARTHday to you. have a good one.

Neet said...

Happy bEARTHday to you. Haven't seen you around on WOYWW for simply ages so thought I would pop in and say "hello" to you and Bleubeard. Please give him a cuddle from me.
Loved seeing all your recycling, I do like to recycle but was amazed to see a post somewhere showing how long it takes these landfill places to decompose. Nice to see your way of doing it. Some good ideas there. I do recycle lots but love the previous post on recycling boxes which I will have to try.
Take care Elizabeth.
Hugs, Neet xx

Susan said...

Happy bEARTHday to you!
You have made some wonderfull beautifull recycled pieces of art!

Love Susan

see you there! said...

Wishing you all happiness on this your bEARTHday. Thanks for showing us all the steps you take in making your creations. It is interesting and I know it takes a lot of work to do that.

Have a great day Elizabeth!


Yvonne said...

Very cool post Elizabeth and happy bEARTHday to you.

~*~Patty S said...

Happy Happy "bEARTHday" to you dear E...Queen of Free and Birthday Queen today too!

Great post ... you always inspire and educate and more!



Magaly Guerrero said...

Lilla's little house is absolutely lovely ;-)

Happy Earth Day!

Rebeca Trevino said...

to call you 'crafty' would be an understatement. . .
i especially love the birds!
and secondly, i love the piece right below the birds, with the tin can lid. fabulous!

you have done an excellent job giving us all these examples of fun ways to recycle/reuse/and create.
thank you Elizabeth.
happy earth day to you too.

PS thanks for getting back to me about the gasket material. . . who knew?

Dianne said...

Love it all...but especially love your bird collages! Happy bEARTHday to you, and many more! have fun on your day and hope it is a great year for you!

Halle said...

Happy Birthday Earthday girl. I raise my coffee cup in a toast to you...wishing you health, joy and a busy creative muse.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

"Dr. E, Queen of Free," I really like that! Happy BearthDay to you! I enjoyed this wonderful post (that I am sure took a long time to organize & put together), and I am always inspired by your passion for keeping our earth junk-free. Enjoy your day!

Donna: said...

Happy Birthday Elizabeth... been a long time since I have visited. This morning I was so anxious to see what you had done for Earth Day, and as usual it is awesome. May you have a perfect day, an awesome find for your aRt treasures... and ALL that you wish for.... :)

sandee said...

Happy bEARTHday to you and hope you had a great one. I always think of you whenever I see a cool recycle idea, or a different way to dye cloth! You're always in my thoughts!! waving hi from the hills of North Carolina ♥

Rita said...

What a wonderful day to be born on!! Happy birthday to an avid recycler and earth lover!! :):)

voodoo vixen said...

Happy Bearthday Lillibet! Love this post, will be sure to read it again on something bigger than my phone when the internet is connected!

TwinkleToes2day said...

What a lovely lot of recycled/reclaimed/reused pieces you've made/shared with us. Over the past couple of weeks I have made a brand new journal with 'junk' as my tribute to earth day this year. I will always 'play my part', and with inspiration abound from artists like yourself, willing to share, it will never be boring! Thank you :0) Mo x