Monday, April 13, 2015

Trash or treasure?

Today is all TALK!!  As I've explained to a few people who've asked, it's hard to create NEW recycled, repurposed, reused, reclaimed, or upcycled art every day for 22 days after I've been doing it for several years.  The particular type of art using recycled or recyclable materials I see on the internet can, for the most part, be placed in two distinct categories: high end and kids crafts.

Neither child craft nor high end, this mixed media piece I made one year shows how I recycled a can lid I burned in my chiminea.  For the background and owl, I used magazine images.  Over the body, I placed a found metal spacer and two found bird feathers that reminded me of an owl's feathers. For the legs and feet, I used calligraphy pen nibs. The bottom color is a bit distorted due to my previous scanner.

It's easy to find kids crafts on the internet.  The problem is, as I've said before, when it's made, it looks like a six year old made it.  Some artists have made a living at it, though.  Take for instance, a blog I found yesterday while doing an internet search for recycled art called Glue and Glitter.

This looks like something I could make with my limited skills.  But I think my friend Halle would do a better job with this than I.

There's an old Chinese saying, "The onion you are eating is someone else's water lily!"  What it means is, someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.  If we manage to look beyond the current purpose of a product and see its next life, we turn trash into treasure.  Sometimes that new life is obvious, but sometimes it's hidden for years until another person finds a similar use for it.

Another idea from Glue and Glitter shows having a great graphic on a tin-can can work in your favor.

I've been told there's a universe out there with millions of ways of turning trash to treasure.  I've also been told there are forums where you can find instructions to create something really sophisticated. The conversion from trash to treasure doesn't need to look homemade or like a Kindergarten school project.  I personally haven't found any of those forums, but I've not been much of a forum person since grad school, when forums were the only internet option and DOS was the operating system of choice.

Also from Glue and Glitter, this planter, made from a mesh produce bag looks like something I could make.   I read on someone's blog (sorry, I didn't save the link) that turning trash to treasure and creative recycling is all about learning new skills. Although I don't need a new skill to make the above planter, I would need new skills to make

these metal craft pieces found on RecylArt,

or this dinosaur

or wolf made by Andrew Chase.

Recycled materials should be your first choice, but if you don't have what you need, look for eco-friendly craft materials. Very often eco-friendly materials are actually the result of creative recycling since they often consist of post-consumer waste.

Paper is a great example. Why not make your own handmade paper like I do (yes, this is my craft room before I started watermarking my photos) using recycled paper and junk mail, or cards from old brochures, security envelopes, book pages, or colorful magazine images.  Sew or glue envelopes together made from magazine and craft book images.

One thing that's always bothered me is, you can often find tutorials for how to make gorgeous art using one recycled product, along with several that are not recycled, but brand new.  This chalkboard, also from Glue and Glitter cost the artist $25.00 (USD) to turn her old picture and frame into a chalkboard.  To me, that may be recycling, but I can't believe all the new materials she had to buy in order to recycle that frame.  Maybe I'm wrong and looking at the world of recycling the wrong way, but that simply doesn't make sense to me.

I would love your input on this timely issue, as we work our way to Earth Day (or bEARTHday in my world).  Many of you are followers who lurk and I appreciate that.  It's never bothered me that I get about six or more times more visitors per day than comments.  But today is the day I ask you to come out of the dark and be heard.  Today I need your input.

This is Day 13 and I'm asking for your input on Trash to Treasure.  Does a project have to cost more than it saves in order to be called beautiful?  Does it take mad skills and loads of expensive equipment to make?  Can a project be inexpensive as well as recyclable without looking like a child made it?   All comments are really, really gratefully appreciated, because it will help guide me in my quest to find truly unique ways to recycle junk I have been given over the years.

I'll be back later today with my T Stands For Tuesday post, which will count as Day 14.  Now I'm off to finish my taxes.   I admit there's nothing like waiting till the last minute.

11 thoughtful remarks:

voodoo vixen said...

Loved the owl with the tin can lid the first time round and still love it now. In answer to your question... recycled is a term that is used pretty loosely in the craft world... you give something a coat of paint or paper and its recycled... nope, its decorated. Recycled to me is changing the use of something to a new thing to make it of value again... and sometimes it will be something simple but not necessarily childish... the cork with sage written on it... LOL... ok, technically its been recycled to a new and practical use but no effort went into that... so maybe its effort that counts? The chalkboard frame... I would do that if it meant that I got something in a colour or shape that suited my home better than a shop bought version but its not recycling.

Jane said...

I thought recycling just meant finding a new use for something, especially something you might otherwise throw away - like your junk mail used to make new paper or your old file folders used for the Journal 52 pages. So the result of using recycled materials will depend on the individual artist or crafts-person. I think it's good to show children how they can use "trash" to make new things even if the results do look like Kindergarten projects. I love Crafty Crow - they show lots of cute ideas for small children.

see you there! said...

Trash to Treasure to me says taking something you would throw away and turning it into something you would keep. In that case a person might have tossed the frame but with the added chalkboard will keep it. I'm going to look at the links now.


Divers and Sundry said...

I'm fighting clutter here, so I give away my odd bits and reusable items to Goodwill for someone else to use. I re-use a lot of things (photo frames, plant pots...) but I don't craft them into other uses.

I am curious about the concept of buying a bunch of stuff so that one item can be re-used or re-purposed. I'm not sure I'd call that "recycling".

pearshapedcrafting said...

Hmmmm! I do like recycling - as in using stuff I've got to re-purpose and generally use what I have to hand - don't ever recall buying something to do this…but….I do buy new or charity shop buys to change to the way I would like it to be - for new I'm thinking those little wooden items that they have in craft shops, unpainted, or things from the £ shop that I think may look better with a few additions - that definitely is not recycling although I may use old blouses, magazines etc to do this!
I do hate to throw stuff away that I can use though, and this was a big problem when we moved to our flat!!
Sorry not to be more helpful! Love your owl BTW!! Hugs, Chrisx

Krisha said...

Hmmmmm! Good question. I think there is a very FINE line between recycling and repurposing something. Isn't recycling something just a different way of repurposing it? I don't feel it has to be taken apart and remade to be recycled.

Should it cost more to do either, than to buy it......not in my book, nor should it require rare tools to accomplish the project.

I bought a fantastic used canvas at the second hand store ( for way less than a new canvas) and I am doing a mixed media piece over it. Recycled or repurposed? Since it has old book pages on it I could call it recycled, but then again it is just a repurposed canvas.

I think it is the artist/crafter's call, the line is to thin to argue about.

Jo Murray said...

I don't think recycling is the same as re-purposing. To me recycling means making a treasure out of something that would've been thrown your paper.

Julia Dunnit said...

Interesting. My 'perception' of recycling, upcycling, repurposing has always been that each of those terms is the same thing. And that it all means making a use for something that previous had another use which is now defunct. The fact that some of these 'up cycling, recyclings, blah end up costing ( sometimes a lot of) money Is to my mind, a bit ludicrous and slightly off the point of the purpose.
But i do agree that just becuase something is upcycle or recycled, it doesn't necessarily have to look as if it is...that is, if it's appropriate to purpose then it doesnt much matter. But that part of it is really a question of the recycler's preference I guess.

Lorraine said...

I had to come back and comment on this. I confess I save a lot of stuff with the intention of recycling it into something useful. I don't like to have to put additional funds into using these items though. Sometimes it may be necessary to buy a particular paint, or adhesive for a project, but the cost would have to be minimal to make it worthwhile to me. I think it is more a personal goal though. And I do think you can use recycling bits and bobs to make things that don't necessarily look like a 6-year-old made them. It depends on the person who is doing the creating .

massofhair said...

I always struggle with the different meanings of recycle and upcycle so i went onto Google to see what results came up. Links are below:-)

Definition of Recycling:

Definition of upcycling:

I try not to pay out anything to recycle or upcycle an item, i usually attach it to something so that it becomes part of something else that i can use. Try not to make something that i can't or won't use.

Hope this helps :-) xxx

Halle said...

I don't think it has to cost a ton. Sometimes though I think about putting new or purchased items with the junk and wonder about the cost...and if it's worth it.
Thanks for the kudos about thinking I'd do a better job on the wine cork craft. :)
Somehow I missed this post.