Ever since I began metalsmithing and making artwork, I’ve enjoyed spending every summer experimenting in my studio with new materials or ideas. As with other artists who share via the Instagram app what we are creating in our studios, I post work-in-progress shots of my latest pieces regularly. Of my summer experiments, the upcycled materials that I started last summer in my Cameo Relief of Woman Holding Her Hair employs discarded microwaveable soup bowl material that I cut apart, saw, pierce, rivet and sew into new, lasting objects.
As one can see in this collage, I draw directly onto the material in graphite then score, fold, pierce and sew these geometric forms into a petite object (like this open-lidded cube form.) The fibrous material lends itself so beautifully to making objects, as its natural color resembles ivory; however, I upcycle what normally would be thrown away into something that can be held, viewed and become a vehicle for art.
While I’ve finished at least four new objects – I’d like to discuss my two latest: Upcycled Open Cube Brooch and an Upcycled Box of Shredded Tweets. The shredded paper in Upcycled Box of Shredded Tweets is further play on the ephemeral nature of seemingly “important” Twitter/news headlines started in my Widget Locket series that was published and discussed in Metalsmith magazine’s “Exhibition in Print: Moved By Metal”. By taking my own digital art “tweets” I created in Adobe Illustrator and placing the leftover hard-copy paper print-outs used in my Widget Lockets #1 – #4, I hope to further the notion of shredding paper as another avoidable act, since non-recycled newspapers or discarded, shredded office documents often meet an inevitable demise into landfills.
Moving away from the stand-alone object into the wearable vein, my Upcycled Open Cube Brooch began its life as a flat fiber material that was only intended in its normal lifespan to be placed on top of a lunchtime soup bowl and put into the microwave. However, with these disposable containers and lids designed and cut by hand, I hope to transform it into a precious object and thereby prevent its disposal. As it was popular during the Georgian period in art history to use ivory in highly crafted vignettes, I refer to my new raw material as a “socially-conscious ivory”. No genuine ivory is used, only the left-over fiber materials that I transform into personal adornments or petite objects instead of landfill fodder.
I plan to update and add details to art does matter soon of more “Upcycled” pieces (and where the work will be shown) along with additional details on my current metalwork I’m developing in the studio this year.
*UPDATE* Both of these Upcycled pieces were accepted into the //KYOOB// Exhibition, curated by Sharon Massey, juried by Joshua Kosker and Natalie Sweet, traveling to three separate venues from November 2016 through May 2017:
Annex Gallery at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP): November 3 – December 8, 2016
Jodee Harris Gallery at Seton Hill University: February 9 – 27, 2017
BNY Mellon Satellite Gallery at Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, PA: March 1 – May 27, 2017