Putting the HeART in Recycled Art
Updated: Nov 24, 2022
Though the idea of turning trash into treasure may seem parsimonious to some, there is great value in saving and even up-cycling those items destined for a dumpster. In recent years, I’ve found solace in taking household items, ranging from toilet paper rolls to soda tabs to raggedy socks, and transforming them into something that I would never let near even an empty trash bin. As a champion of change powered by consumers in particular, I challenge you to do the same!
Sure, brand-name companies are largely at fault for using unsustainable or non-biodegradable materials in their products, but you, as a consumer, have the power to keep those products from reaching their final destination. You have the means and the resources to find ordinary items that you would otherwise discard and turn them into something meaningful. With a little bit of scissors and glue (and love!), you can turn almost any old scraps into something truly marvelous. Below, I’ll show you four different crafts (in four different mediums) that I have made as evidence of the countless possibilities that exist in this creative refuge that I like to call paradise.
Take a look at this bottle cap Texas. I had wanted to create an art piece that would stay true to my up-cycling theme without breaking the bank, and this project was a nifty solution. I found an old canvas on which I had previously messed up, covered it with a piece of fabric from a torn blanket, and hot glued bottle caps from several milk cartons onto the fabric in the shape of Texas. I painted over the bottle caps with acrylics, added a coat of glue (my cheap “varnish”) on top, and voila! Within the span of a few hours, I had found a way to avoid tossing a boatload of bottle caps into the lonely garbage bag in the corner of my room.
If you don’t have an arsenal of bottle caps, that’s okay! Toilet paper is a major commodity right now, but what can you do with the rolls? I created this canvas using the same supplies as before: a canvas on which I had messed up (as you can probably tell, I'm not the most proficient painter), a piece of fabric from a worn blanket (because yes, I have a lot of those too), and some paint. I took toilet paper rolls and cut them into rings around ½ in. thick, painted the rings black, and hot glued them onto the fabric in a flowery pattern. Once again, a one-day project resulted in a piece that will last a lifetime. And as an added bonus, it makes a great wall decor in my room!
We all get more magazines than we can count in the mail, and most people choose to toss them rather than save them. This rolled magazine T was my way of turning drab sheets of paper into a three-dimensional wall hanging that catches the eye. I took a couple of pages of a magazine and cut them into strips of different widths. I added glue to the strips and rolled them up separately, arranging them all into a T shape. Finally, I glued the rolls together and let the piece dry before hanging it up. And that was it! Who said magazines are just for reading?
Many of us have an array of fabrics littering our closets, and oftentimes we just don’t know what to do with them. To make this cuddly cloth cushion, I found fabric on a torn book cover and cut it out into heart shapes. I stuffed the pillow with some of my old socks that had holes in them, rather than with the usual beans or rice or cotton. Finally, I stitched it all together with a small spool of yarn. Though this craft only took an hour, the result was a cute pillow that makes a cheerful accessory.
Making recycled art is certainly a time-consuming undertaking, but the results always stand the test of time. By transforming the most mundane materials into lifelong masterpieces, you can reduce your contribution to dumpster growth while producing something that you will likely cherish in the years to come. The best part? The options are endless! In the whimsical world of recycled art, there is only one rule: It’s okay to not throw away!