Monday, January 24, 2011

Found Objects and other Materials of the Starving Artist

 A cardboard box, some spare ribbon, a cocktail toothpick. Don't throw that out, I was saving it for a project! Upon entering my studio, one might conclude that I am a classic pack rat: the floor, my desk, and every other horizontal surface are piled high with bits of cardboard, buttons, scrapbook paper, cloth remnants and other such items that some might classify as "junk." I prefer to call these "art supplies." The difference being that most of these things have been saved for a specific project or purpose, and once I have gathered enough of said supplies, they will be crafted into something completely different (NOT stacked higher and higher to be kept for all eternity). I build miniatures, doll houses, costumes, and props. And, surprisingly, your average pirate costume may share quite a few of the same materials as a Victorian-inspired doll house. I take great pleasure in the search for my materials, spending more time than my husband would prefer digging through the remnant fabric at the craft store, the racks at Goodwill, and the glorious shelves at the local Dollar Tree, where anything that I desire can be purchased for a mere dollar. And if I can get it on clearance, I like it twice as much, taking it as a sign that the item was destined to end up in my possession. I especially like items that bring a duality to my work: retaining its identity from a "past life" while telling the story of something new. For example, a lampshade made from a toothpaste lid or a piece of artwork created from a postage stamp. These recognizable items evoke a memory of their former use that engages the observer on a personal level, while simultaneously telling a new story that can be carried forward. This is the power of the found object. And anything that can be saved from the garbage bin and re-purposed is fuel for the starving artist and one less thing gone to waste. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

7 comments:

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  2. Don't forget a lonely sock can make a great Barbie dress. That was my first sewing project after returning from a weekend with the Erbs!

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  3. A sock for a dress, an old sponge from the sink for a pillow, a wash cloth for a blanket. Barbie slept on a bed of books, but they say a firm mattress is great for your back!

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  4. Dear Cardboard Crafter,
    I have a project that my daughter and I are beginning and I think as your daughters get older it may come in handy. My 8 year old has many, many hair accessories. I have hung a ribbon to clip her hair bows onto. We have boxes and boxes of various clips and scrunciis. But there is no good way to store headbands. My inspiration came one day during breakfast. We are going to use 1 large quaker oatmeal box, covered with her choice of fabric. The headbands fit perfectly around the round oatmeal box, not causing stretching and still tight enough that they dont fall off. Just one more way to reuse! Enjoy.

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  5. I like that. And you can change the fabric that covers it later if you choose, and store additional hair accessories inside. Nice.

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  6. I can totally relate to this post. I have been known to horde odds and ends for years with the intention of making it all into art. You just never know when those thrift store finds might make the perfect addition to a piece of art! :)

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  7. Thaneeya, you should see my art room! I have piles and piles of stuff, just waiting to be made into art! All I need is the time...

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