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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

GarbART or Recycled Art

No matter what, I always use recycled stuff for my art projects, or at least get the material in a thrift store, at a garage sale or - GULP! - on the street. It makes me look at everything differently, and if I had the space, I wouldn't get rid of anything but compost and soiled things that aren't reusable in a conventional kind of way.

Here's a little collection of the things I've done recently:

Fabric scrap projects

My last project in the States for a very dear little girlfriend. Oh, did I mention how fun it is to have a sewing machine that has a ton of fancy stitches?

These cards are made of scraps that I had left over from doing the envelopes (the fabric came from a thrift store, of course!). I satin-stitched around the motives and around the edges of the recycled cardboard cards.
These cuddly friends are all made of clothing that I couldn't use anymore because of stains or rips that weren't fixable. Each one of them is one-of-a-kind, since I never work with templates and every item is different. Some of them are available at Lili, Meili and Beau at 33 Watchung Plaza in Montclair, NJ 07042.

This was my Halloween project - 2 Mario hats for Halloween for my two boys. They're made of leftover felt following this tutorial.
Believe it or not, this used to be a bed sheet! I made 3 receiving blankets and a duck family of 3 out of it The feet are tiny pieces of felt and the eyes are embroidered. I have to say though that working with a stretchy fabric is not always easy... especially not for a beginning sewer like me :-)

These are little felt flowers made of leftover felt and buttons


Another place mat made of small pieces of scrap fabrics. Can you believe it took me about two hours to finish one??? They're double-sided and I made two for my parents.

This is a stack of place mats that I made for party favors. They're made of fabric scraps, old clothes and fabric markers. The tags are cut out of cardboard boxes and decorated with stamps.

I love making place mats because it's a nice way to use little odds and ends of fabric - and they're useful, too!

Another way to use little pieces of fabric is making envelopes out of them. Hopefully these are getting used over and over and over again!

Inspired by my friend Kris I made this booboo pack of fabric scrap and filled with flaxseeds - kept in the freezer it helps with all the little booboos that kids get.


I love personalized gifts. This one is for a dear friend who recently had a birthday. I painted the backing of an Ikea frame with acrylic and crayons and hope he enjoys.

I'm so proud of this little flower that my 5 year old made for a friend. It's a homemade birthday card.

These two thingis were little trays for baby food, the kind you would fill in tiny little containers and freeze. Well, those days are over for us and I couldn't think of how to re-purpose those trays, so I painted them.

This is a painting of a newborn baby girl for her birthday card, decorated with golden star stickers.

This is an embroidered "picture" - a copy of one of my son's paintings that I embroidered on a piece of diaper liner in an old picture frame.


Here is another one of my son's creation (with hand-me-down crayons). I just love the picture so much that I had to post it here as well :-)


Portrait of my two boys - black pencil on diaper liner (had to find a good use for the ones I bought and was never able to use for the baby)


I like my logo. Painted it back in 2009, when the idea of Your Greener Future started to grow.


Another painting that I made for my little friend Susi a while back.

Spring painting (acrylic on paper, glued to lightweight cardboard).
Reused take-out containers with colored paper circles glued inside, displaying sample flavor packs for SodaStream soda maker (shopping window design for go lightly store in Montclair)


This doll is made of a Nike winter jacket. The story is that this jacket was given to us in like-new condition, but broke after the first time in the wash. Nike wasn't interested in taking it back, even though it was obvious that the material was damaged, so I needed to recycle it in some way.

This little guy was a birthday present for my son's best friend. It's a no-sew doll (except for the hat and hair), made of leftover yarn, some embroidery floss and little fabric scrap.

And this is another one made pretty much of the same material.

"Nana II" was a present for my older son, made of the leftover scraps from my hubbie's T-shirt (I made my first doll of the same shirt!), rug yarn from the local thrift store, a ripped baby jeans that was falling apart and two stained baby shirts, oh, and some fiberfill stuffing - I used a bag that somebody gave me. It took me about 5 hours to do Nana's hair - every single "hair" has to be pulled through the crocheted scalp and tied.

Meet my first doll "Nana". Nana is baby's Christmas present. The first picture shows him not quite finished, made of an old T-shirt that didn't fit my husband, and an unused blanket as filling.

Nana's face is made with brown and pink embroidery yarn. I always stock up at estate and garage sales!

Nana's clothes are made of a sweater of mine (from a thrift store, of course) where the zipper had broken. I hand sew (is that grammatically correct???) everything and realized that I NEED A SEWING MACHINE!!! - which now, month later, I own!
Nana's hair is one pack of rug yarn that I bought at a local thrift store for 10 cents!


These are my kids' Christmas presents - they still love Mario and Luigi (even though they don't really know them :-) and I love giving something home-made. Not that they'd appreciate it yet, but still...
These two guys are crochet of yarn scraps, which
made it difficult to finish, since all the colors are different weight and some of the pieces I had to re-do because they were either too small or too big for the rest of the parts. I think I worked about 15 hours on both of them - there are so many single parts that have to be sewn together. The eyes are tiny little felt leftovers from a ladies craft night and a dot of fabric paint. I hope they boys like them!

A crocheted birdie mobile for a baby boy. Lots of leaves, flowers, birdies to assemble!

The lower picture shows the first headband that I crochet. The upper picture is my second one so far, both were presents for little girlfriends. 
The little picture shows one of my chokers, also crocheted. I love making these kind of things as it's a nice way to use up small amounts of leftover yarn

A present for my son's 5th birthday, this Happy Airplane is made of leftover yarn from different thrift stores/garage sales and white fabric scrap for the windows. The pattern is from Ana Paula Rimoli


Crocheted ice cream cones for my friend Jen from go lightly who will soon offer vegan icecream in her store.
Made of leftover yarn, pattern is from Ana Paula Rimoli. I put the cones in an upcycled item - this is for these little single-use coffee portions for fancy coffee machines, but are the perfect fit for actual cones! Great find, I find :-)

"WauWau", the crocheted doggie made of leftover yarn and filled with polyester from an unusable blanket.

Paper/Fabric stuff

Recently someone gave away a whole bunch of Tiffany gift boxes and I took them. For this one, I covered the box with a birdie cut out from leftover fabric scraps. I think they make beautiful gift boxes.

 Here is an Ikea kids table that had some serious damage to the surface. I covered it with a large paper map and packaging tape and voila! - a like-new table where the kids can even learn some geography while sitting at it!

Cardboard card with sewn-on carriage (leftover felt and tiny fabric scraps) for new parents. I didn't even know that sewing machines can sew on paper and cardboard until recently!

 This is a bath mat made of a lot of unusable and unwearable shirts that I cut in strips and crochet them into the mat.

A long time ago I bought a fabric book at a local thrift store. It's kind of a sampler for different kind of fabrics. One of the pieces I turned into a pencil roll for my son.

This is a fabric and paper banner that I made for a dear family friend as a graduation gift. Made of cardboard, covered with fabric scraps and cut-out felt letters that say "Dream big". On the back I wrote quotes from friends.

Party favors for a kids birthday get-together, made of empty toilet paper rolls, scrap fabric from a local thrift store and random little toys.

A bouquet of flowers made of egg cartons and fabric scraps (cut of unusable clothing), and reused chopsticks.

A birthday card created with a blank card from a thrift store, a teabag string, cut-out letters, glue and 2 golden star stickers.

This was my older son's advents calendar: Branch from outside wrapped in white yarn, openings covered with cotton balls and folded holiday cards hanging down from it (filled with organic, dark, fair-trade chocolate 

I learned how to fold beautiful little boxes out of old greeting cards. I used these for the above mentioned advents calendar.

Another use for those unused diaper liners that I used for quite some stuff: For a holiday present for my son's preschool teachers I sewed these little gift bags with their names on them and filled them with drawings from "their" kids.


All you need is a little box (such as tea boxes, tissue boxes etc), extra cardboard for the roof and some old fabric scraps for the walls, doors, windows and decoration.


Yum, more vegan cupcakes made of almonds, dates, dark chocolate and sugar sprinkles. No recycled materials here, oh, just the liners are from a thrift store. Unused, of course :-)

These are (almost) raw cupcakes that I made for my son's birthday, and the kids in his class loved them! Made of raw almonds, dates, raw honey and cocoa powder for the icing. On top I put store-brought dark chocolate rounds with sprinkles.

Other fun stuff

My miniature holiday tree! A friend gave me this little metal garden obelisk that I had no idea what to use it for, but figured something would come to my mind :-) I wrapped it in old ties that I took apart, a broken necklace and recycled holiday chain and put battery-operated LED-lights in red around it.
 This on is a holiday "ornament" as well. Somebody in our development threw out this metal star last year and I rescued it. I wrapped red and green yarn around it (boy, does that take a long time!), decorated with a recycled golden holiday chain and green LED lights, also battery operated.
 I have two young kids and therefore always a ton of crayons in the house. You get them at restaurants, as party favors, presents and some you don't even know where they came from. In any case, there's always a ton of broken crayons that nobody wants to use anymore. I do! I bought 4 silicone forms for ice on a yard sale last summer and a mini muffin form in a thrift store. In the muffin pan, I melt the broken crayons, sorted by color, and pour it in the forms. When they've hardened, we have beautiful, unique new ones that look so cute in a self-folded box (out of old calendar pages).

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