Viewing art in a different light

It’s called “upcycling” but don’t be fooled by its name; it’s certainly not recycling but just as eco-friendly.

The concept of “upcycling” boils down to the creative preservation of waste products. The Upcycle Magazine website deems it “taking an item that is no longer needed or wanted and giving it new life as something that is either useful or creative.”

No matter how it is defined, “upcycling” is a trendy and relatively new means of creating resourceful art and home décor.

“I think it’s a really interesting way to make art,” says Kristina Hagman ’14. “People make really creative pieces that way by using materials you wouldn’t normally see.”

Heritage art teacher Ms. Stacy Mangold is also fond of the trend.

“I find it very exciting. Art can be created with found objects of one sort or another and reconfigured or repurposed in many ways,” says Mangold.

The project ideas that “upcycling” has given rise to are seemingly endless. Websites such as Pinterest are great places to begin the imaginative search for creative projects to tackle.

A good starter craft for the beginner crafter is decorating a 3D cardboard letter or letters from a craft store, such as one’s initial or a word. They are relatively cheap to purchase and are simple to decorate. One method of decoration is applying glue in any desired design. After allowing the glue to dry, the letter can be painted with acrylic paint, thus giving the appearance of a fancy embossed wall decoration.

Rock painting is another cute and easy craft. Transform any smooth rock into an adorable garden critter by applying acrylic paint and an outdoor sealant.

Unwanted items such as terracotta pots, chip bags and old silverware can be transformed into trendy decorations through the art of “upcycling”. The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to creating “upcycled” art.

A slightly more intermediate craft can be done using potato chip bags, or any such bags that are lined with aluminum. Shrink any desired bag in the oven and after cooling, the shrunken bags can be used in numerous ways, like serving as bookmarks, being molded around the wrist as a bracelet and even being turned into earrings, for those more experienced jewelers.

If there are unused terracotta pots lying around, a cute faux gumball machine can be created with minimal materials. An upside down terracotta pot serves as the base of the machine while the upside down terracotta tray acts as the lid, perched on top of a glass bowl that holds the candy. Simply glue on a fake gumball machine dial to complete the look. Careful, while it looks real, the dial doesn’t really turn to dispense the candy!More intermediate crafters may want to try mosaics. Virtually anything can be mosaicked, from an old table to a new picture frame. Just apply glue to the surface and add glass, tile or broken pottery in any desired pattern. After drying, the cracks can be filled with grout and the product can be sprayed with a sealant.

Old silverware and pop can tabs can be transformed into beautiful bracelets, projects that perhaps more advanced crafters may want to tackle.

Look around. Creative inspiration can be found anywhere, even in the little things.

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