Saturday, June 23, 2012

FROM TRASH TO STUDIO STASH...

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
~Old English Proverb~
One of the things I have become increasingly mindful of lately is the amount of trash I have left over after an art project is finished.  While I do have a couple of ideas in place that I regularly implement to cut down on what is actually thrown out, I still have quite a few leftover bits to contend with.  The other day I was in a cleaning frenzy trying to get the studio back in order.  During the process I kept tossing everything that needed to be thrown out into one heap on the counter rather than in the trash bin.  It turned out to be a magical "aHa!" artful moment.

With everything back in place and all the tidying up finished I turned my attention to the trash and suddenly saw studio stash!  With a few simple supplies: wallpaper paste, gesso, heavy and medium matte gel, modeling paste, paint brush, pallet knife, and my fingers, I set out to recycle every one of those cast offs, up-cycling them from trash to studio stash!

My trash heap was composed of a large cardboard mailer that I had received a gift from a friend in as well as some random piece of cardboard cut from a box.  
  
 Two lunch sized paper bags, one brown and one white, from recent flea market purchases.  A miscellaneous mash of various fibers and odd fabric scraps.  
 Two sleeves and surged seams from a t-shirt I cut up for a project.   Various paper scraps: crumpled wax paper, bits of handmade paper, a stray coffee filter, a piece of brown pinstriped wrapping paper from my birthday gift, etc. 
 There were also boxes, one from a recent Amazon book purchase and one from an Etsy purchase.
Normally I would have been fed up and finished at this point and just tossed the random items out and called it a day, but, I have started to challenge myself to see how I can reduce the amount of things I actually throw out and to see exactly how creative I can get with all my leftovers.  I can blame my current craze on Beth (Gathering Dust).  She gave out one of my all time favorite tips for using up scrap paper bits and that is what got my mind whirling about how to use up other studio leftovers.

Beth's tip:
Keep a piece of blank card stock and a glue stick handy as you paper craft.  As you are working or at the end of your project randomly glue all those snippets of paper onto the piece of card stock in an overlapping collage like fashion.   It will look like a hot mess but do not despair!  Use a paper punch, stencil, or free form cut out tag shapes.  You will have some super amazing tag bases to embellish!
In addition to Beth's tip, I keep a pretty bowl near my workspace.  It is my leftover bowl.  As I work on a project I might select various items that are either accepted or rejected to include in a piece.  I may snip this or tear away that.  
 Everything related to that project gets tossed into the bowl, originally I did this to curb what was going onto my work surface, to be sorted and put away later.  I began to see additional projects with the rejects and leftover snippets.  I use a simple piece of muslin and layer all those paper and fabric bits onto the surface and then stitch them into backgrounds for later use either by hand or using my sewing machine incorporating decorative stitching.  Here are a few recent examples:
 I also keep a  couple of small vintage sewing machine parts tins beside my sewing machine.  As I clip away excess threads I put them in the tins, one for neutral threads and one for colored threads.  
 I used these thread snippets to create fiber art embellishments for enhancing larger projects.  Some examples are my fiber birds, small background or accent embellishments:
 So, my scraps have evolved from simple tag bases, to fiber/paper backgrounds, fiber embellishments, and now to artist "canvas".  Here is how I used my haphazard heap, all of these are in their rawest form but ready for paint, wax, or collage...

Etsy box lid, 1/2 crumpled white paper bag, and matte gel medium...
(Super simple even looks like a regular textured canvas)

Etsy box bottom, crumpled brown paper bag, and matte gel medium...
(Yes, I am leaving the rumpled edges as they are)

Cardboard box piece, 1/2 crumpled white paper bag, matte gel medium, modeling paste...
(I love the irregular random shape of this one)

Cardboard box piece, modeling paste, surged t-shirt seams...
(A fun textural background all ready for paint and embellishment or might be added to a larger piece, but I think I feel an encaustic moment coming on with this one)

Cardboard box piece, twisted paper strips, various fibers, crumpled wax paper, fabric and paper scraps, wallpaper paste, gesso...
  (TIP: I often use wallpaper paste on large pieces to adhere things.  It is very cost effective and I have found it to hold up well.  Have you ever tried to strip wall paper off a wall?  Need I say more ;c)

WARNING: The only thing you need to know about using the wallpaper paste is that it can sometime yellow over time, since I often want an aged antique look to my work the extra age does not bother me.

Amazon book box, t-shirt sleeves, fabric strips, gesso, modeling paste...
(This made a thick really sturdy textural "canvas" to be used as is or layered over with thin artist tissue or paints.)

Large cardboard mailer, paper and fabric scraps, fibers, coffee filter, handmade paper scraps, crumpled wax paper, pin stripe gift wrap, wallpaper paste, heavy matte gel medium, gesso...
 (I glued these things on randomly with the intention of applying gesso over the whole thing for just a textural background but changed my mind after hitting the surface with a dry brush of gesso.  It kind of came out looking like a piece of abstract art.  Pretty cool!)

Some of these need to be weighted and flattened or backed for extra stability and then they are ready to use as stand in "canvas"!  I have another stack of thick square boxes ready to cover with plaster wrap as soon as I have time and my heap with be depleted!  

Right now, with the level of attention dedicated to my mother's care, I don't have much studio time to spare so I am focusing my energies on little creative snippets like turning trash into studio stash, storing up for future projects.  I may also use some of these "canvas" as art kit bases to place in my defunct Etsy shop in the future.

I would love to hear any up-cycling tips you have for your project left overs!

17 comments:

Michelle said...

Wow! Such lovely "trash":)! You are one of my favorite art blogs, Sandy!

I just recently brought my new art blog over to Blogger to make it easier for others to join. I also just created some free stationery! Please help yourself, if you like?!:)

Have a blessed weekend!

Kasia said...

Ohhh such treasures!!! Girl, I keep all my things as well, theres always a small project that needs something exactly like that! :) Fantastic stuff you have here! :)

Hugs,

bobbie said...

OMGosh!!!!!!!!
You ROCK the "leftovers"!!
And you have truly inspired me ~

Shopgirl said...

This is really special. I think we all need to be mindful of what we throw away. And you have made it look really fun to do. I am with you, I will try this out. big Hugs, Mary

Beth Leintz said...

Love your ideas for creating canvases, glad you're still patchwork scraping paper. I have a new idea of thread and ribbon bits- I haven't tried it yet, but when I do I'll show it on my blog. I'm going to sandwich thread and ribbon bits between two pieces of water solubable interfacing, machine stitch back and forth all the "sandwich" and then dip it in water to get rid of the interface. I should be left with a fibery texturing piece that I can use for backgrounds.

EllenaElizabeth said...

Sandy I am so pleased you have posted this info. I too am very aware of what I 'bin' and what I do with the saved bits. You have a much larger following than me so hopefully your story will inspire others to do the same as you. I do many of the things you do such as save threads etc. I also re-use postal bags and boxes. Some I have re-used up to 5 times and still counting, between a friend and I. I keep all my 'not used' diecut bits and pieces in groups and use them eventually in other projects and find especially that they are useful when making christmas cards. I make my christmas cards from last years that were sent to me. The off cuts that are not useable I put in the re-cyle bin. I save and use on tags etc the ribbon that is one tags when I buy clothing...when I think that most people just throw that in the bin it actually upsets me. Instead of buying 'chipboard', I just use cracker and cereal boxes. The list goes on. Anyhow thankyou for sharing your tips and well done.

Lesley UK said...

Wow! Wonderful ideas. I shall look at 'leftovers' in a whole new way.
Thank you for opening my eyes. lol

Vee said...

My methods are far removed from your own. Clear it out, clear it out is mine. Otherwise, I am simply swamped within the smallish confines of my room and I had to ask myself what purpose the room is used for. I'm afraid anything with glue gets the ax. Messy and my old fingers ...nah, I've got enough messy. All this to say, I love that you are doing it. I will marvel at what you create out of nearly nothing. I just prize order more than creating and that.is.not.a.good.thing.

amy of four corners design said...

I have stumbled upon your blog...and so glad I did...here I thought I did pretty well with recycling/upcycling with my art projects - but you have me beat by a mile! I love all of the substrates you created - they are so textural and intriguing - and all made from leftovers! I have plenty of leftovers (paper, twine, snippets, fabric) so will definitely be using some of your ideas- thanks so much

and I'll be back - I'm your newest follower...

BucksCountyFolkArt said...

I often use the same English Proverb in my blog too. Dontcha love it?! And good for you for being able to be so inventive using up your stash. Think how great it would be if more people abided by the use it up logic.

Smiles,
Jill

Createology said...

Sandy it is so refreshing to see you creating in your studio. Upcycling all those bits and bobs is lots of fun. Your style is gorgeous. Love the textures and backgrounds you are creating. I try to utilize all my scraps too but definitely get overwhelmed with them all. I am liking your idea to create backgrounds and then the rest will formulate. Blessings to you dear...

Diane said...

LOL! So true, waste not, want not! Except we'd run out of space if we saved everything, wouldn't we! LOL! But your creations ALA Beth's tip turned out so pretty one really does have to rethink the idea of tossing STUFF that's leftover! I guess that's just how crazy quilting was invented!

Blessings!!! XO Diane

Tina @ TinyBear Studio said...

Love the idea with the glued left over paper snippets and the sewed fabric and paper snippets. very cool.
Blessings
Tina

Ruth Kelly said...

Have a safe and happy 4th of July. I miss your posts.

Ruth

Ana Márquez said...

I love your work! Thanks for sharing so wonderful ideas :-) Regards from Spain.

CATHY said...

what a great post - so helpful. Love the idea to glue the scraps down right then and there. I save all scraps - but they just go into the GIANT drawer! Thanks!

Sandra Martin said...

I just discovered your blog. So many treasures to uncover in coming days. I loved how you transformed cardboard lids into lovely canvases for your work. Definitely on my to-do list! Many blessings from another Sandy. :)

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