New in The Re-source

This issue of the newsletter features some great resources to inspire you to reuse materials to make art, and if you live in or near Palo Alto, California, this is your lucky day! Were putting the art/reuse spotlight on an organization called FabMo, a group that salvages designer fabrics and provides them, free of charge, to teachers and others who work for nonprofits.

Also, we're introducing a new feature about artists who reuse and/or recycle materials. First up, we'll travel to the Netherlands to learn about an artist who spins newspaper strips to make  yarn, of sorts. Then we'll discover how a chef turned wood sculptor found his true calling as a craftsman on the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest.

We've scoured the Internet and found even more good Web sites that have a strong art/reuse focus, and we've added to our list of art and craft books that will help you learn new ways to reuse materials to save money and Mother Earth. Finally, we hope you'll forgive the pun about dollies and doilies, but we couldn't resist! In the last section, you'll see how a simple piece of paper can be turned into a winter greeting card or valentine.

What's In This Issue

Winter 2009

Repurposing Designer Fabrics

art exhibit imagebannersLocated in Palo Alto, California, FabMo collects discontinued designer fabrics and makes it available to artists, teachers, and members of churches and not-for-profit organizations, thereby keeping it out of the landfill. Other items available at various times include trims, leathers, wallpaper samples, and hardware.

FabMo was started more than eleven years ago when the founders realized that throwing away the fabric samples was a waste, literally! They knew that creative folks, like artists and art teachers, would probably jump at the chance to have access to such beautiful material. Now the organization annually distributes more than twenty tons of fabric and other designer items.

The material has found its way into a variety of handcrafted work such as quilts, dolls, purses, pillows, as well as fine art projects, and church members, teachers, and others who represent not-for-profit agencies sell the finished goods to raise money for their organizations.

While you may not be able to travel all the way to California to participate in a distribution event, your area probably has interior design studios whose employees will share outdated sample books. Just ask! Most likely, they' ll be free, and by reusing the materials, you're helping the environment while you save money.

Visit FabMo to learn more about the organization and how the staff is helping to save energy, natural resources, and landfill space. While there, be sure to click on the project section to see photos of wonderful art and crafts created by FabMo patrons.

Bells from Everest

bells made from Everest oxygen tanksbowls being turned out of oxygen tanksFormally trained in the culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University, Jeff Clapp was introduced to ice sculpting while at the school. Many years later, he began carving wood, which he preferred, because he didn't have to watch his creations melt!

Jeff began working with CO2 cylinders as art materials after a friend gave him a spent container from his restaurant. Working the piece on a lathe, Jeff turned the metal into a bell, and he discovered that it had a great tone.

Then, eight years ago, while watching a television documentary about Mount Everest, Jeff was disturbed to see the amount of trash left behind by climbers. In 2004, he went to Nepal and brought back 132 cylinders.

Canister Stack and JeffCanister Bottom Containers Now his work became more than art, because the Sherpas earned money for recovering the containers, and he was helping to clean the landscape. In addition, he found a new, free source of raw materials for making more bells.

Jeff has added bowls to his sales inventory, and he's even found a way to use the shavings left from turning the metal. The Everest Ornament is made of clear glass that's filled with scraps that once littered his workshop floor.

Visit The Bells at Everest to learn more about Jeff and his work, and to see photos of the bells, bowls, and ornaments.


Valentine CardWell, Hello, Doily!

It seems a waste of energy and natural resources, but many restaurants place doilies on saucers underneath coffee and teacups. What's that about, anyway? We think it's supposed to enhance your dining experience, but all it really does is add trash to the landfill!

If the doily is still in good shape, however, you can reuse it to make art, thereby reducing the waste and saving some money on materials. All you need are a few additional supplies, and you can create a cool winter greeting card or a one-of-a-kind valentine.

You'll need:

How to:

Look at the shapes in the doily. Do any suggest the features of a person? See if you can find shapes that would work for a mouth, eyes, glasses, hair, etc., or look for round shapes that suggest wheels or other round objects and make a car or truck. Glue the pieces to a construction paper background, and draw details to finish the artwork.

Doily Snow 

Man CardPictured here is a doily we saved after having breakfast at a local restaurant. The various shapes were cut apart, and then they were rearranged to make a winter scene that shows a snowman and snow falling from the sky. It took nearly an entire doily to make t he picture, and we used oil pastels and markers to complete it. Afterwards, we folded the paper to make a greeting card.

Also, the lacy doily could be used to make a valentine. Fold a piece of construction paper in half, and use the doilies as they are, or cut the shapes apart and glue them to the background. If you wish, use heart paper punches to add more details, and write a message to your valentine on the inside of the card.
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by Marilyn J. Brackney

Newsletters Archived by Topic

The link above will allow access to dozens of Imagination Factory art activities and articles that appear in all newsletters.

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Art/Reuse Web Sites

Frugal and Recycled Crafts at Creativity Portal
HGTV Recycled Crafts
Proptology: Papier Mache Rediscovered
Ronnie Burkett's Papier Mache Recipes

More Art and Craft Books that Encourage Reuse

There are two things that I find irresistible. One is chocolate (any kind), and the other is a good art book. Many in my library are technical books that deal with drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking, but a fair number are craft-oriented. Writing this piece allowed me to reacquaint myself with them, and I'd even forgotten I owned some of the books! Many are probably out of print by now, but you may be able to find copies at a used bookstore or on Ebay. They are all worth the hunt.

Furniture in 24 Hours by Spiros Zakas ISBN 0-02-082900-0 Containing 42 designs with instructions on how to create tables, chairs, and much more, the plans for everything shown were hatched in workshops conducted by Zakas at New York's famed Parson School of Design. Many call for reusing materials.

Papier-Mache by Miranda Innes ISBN 0-7894-0335-8 This book contains easy-to-follow instructions for turning cardboard and paper, including newspaper, into jewelry, bowls, frames, clocks, containers, masks, and ornaments.

Paper into Pots (and other fun objects) by Gerry Copp ISBN 0-85532-772-3 The artist shows how to use a variety of paper mache techniques to create bowls, plates, clocks, picture frames, and jewelry.

Simple Kaleidoscopes by Gary Newlin ISBN 0-8069-3154-X This is a great paperback that shows how to reuse common, household materials, such as cardboard tubes, to make a variety of kaleidoscopes. There are also many photographs of finished scopes to inspire you.

The Art and Craft of Papier Mache by Juliet Bawden ISBN 0-8021-1245-5 Packed with lots of ideas and easy-to-follow instructions, this book covers the history of papier mache, and it contains beautiful examples of jewelry, boxes, vases, bowls, picture frames, and much more.

The Art of the Handmade Book by Flora Fennimore ISBN 1-55652-146-4 This little paperback shows how to create photo albums, accordion books, pop-up books, scrolls and much more, and many are made from scrap or reused materials such as cereal cartons and tablet backs.

Trashformations: Recycled Materials in Contemporary American Art and Design by Lloyd E. Herman ISBN 0-9385506-04-8 Featuring 80 works by artists who see the value of items most people throw away, the photographs will help you view the ordinary in a new light.

You Can Make Your Own Soft Jewelry by Jackie Dodson ISBN 0-8019-8129-8 Many techniques and directions are included for a variety of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, and pins made of scrap.