Fuzzy Creature: art from trash

February 27, 2012 at 10:12 am | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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You can cut and/or tear cardboard boxes, foam cubes, plastic cups, etc., for use in flat art pieces. But think of the uses for sculpture! Three-dimensional trash holds endless possibilities for fascinating creatures, robots and humanoids, animals, architectural ideas…endless, once the brainstorming starts.

This little thing hasn’t been named, but I’m getting somewhat fond of it. Hope the kids are careful as its head already fell off once while working on it. Which brings up how to attach things. I admit to using a glue gun because it is fast and sure. The glue sticks are made from polymers (plastic), not so good for recycling, although my research shows vapors and skin contact are relatively harmless. Then there’s the burnt finger aspect, not desirable for kids. I also used Yes Paste, suitable for thick paperboard materials; it is non-toxic, acid free, and can be thinned with water as a final glaze. Non-toxic glue sticks are less expensive and easier for kids to manipulate, and are for light paper/collage applications. However, the bond does tend to break down over time. For many of the more sculptural pieces, PVA glue, such as Elmer’s will work well, since it’s art to be looked at, not handled. Tapes may also be used.

I was told this fuzzy creature looks like something from Star Wars. Its makeup is: yogurt container; plastic fruit cup; cap from a prescription vial; old drawer knob of plastic; plastic spice jar lid; plastic from a cable tie; sewing remnants of two buttons, a piece of cord, and half a metal fastener; toothbrush part; an old wig; leather purse handle parts; and left-over Halloween hair paint. What could you do with the plush covering from an old stuffed toy?

While playing around with Little Fuzzy I considered how it might live, it’s environment and habits. It’s easy to imagine a story there and how such a project could be used in the English curriculum.

Shiny, Shiny Night: art from trash

February 26, 2012 at 10:15 am | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Shiny, Shiny Night, mixed media by Joan Desmond 2012

For the past week I’ve been imagining again what to do with discards, trash, and used-up items, how they may serve as art material. The prompt was a display to be set up at Woodrow Wallace School to drum up interest for the Youth Recycled Art Show in March, part of the Living Green Festival.

It’s an easy reach to use magazines and paper goods in collage, but what to do with yogurt containers, the numerous caps and lids, the plastics, so many plastics, the Styrofoam (polystyrene foam actually, made from petroleum, why is that still next to our food?), on and on. All I had to do was be particularly conscious of the man-made materials that passed through my hands each day. Much of it gets re-cycled, re-used, and re-purposed but it’s also an endless, free resource for upcycling into art (gottta love new words). The projects needed to be doable for kids.

Here’s the first one. Built on the paperboard/cardboard backing from an empty 9”x12” drawing pad, it uses: colored bubble wrap; foil insulated bubble wrap; foil wrap from a gift plant; foam scraps; take-out container Styrofoam; those trusty magazine cuttings, and glue. It was entirely too much fun to create.

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