A few weeks back I found several rolls of brightly colored tape.  I hadn’t really worked with tape before and soon realized that its crinkly / sticky nature made it difficult to cut / move around.

I came up with a solution that involves using foil from the inside of cigarette packs (a material that is thin, flexible, and easy to work with).

I stuck the tape to the foil and then made the cuts I needed.  This mitigated the sticky crinkling and transformed the tape into something that was much easier to control.  Vuala,  a technique that I have already put to use and will continue to use in the future.


Often I find myself day dreaming of how to convert nontraditional objects into wearable fibers.  I think its cool to make a garment out of mini blinds.  And its a major bonus that this wacky fashion is a fun way to get people to pay attention. I believe it accidentally forces people to examine their relationship to trash.  Below is an example of a previous garment I made from mini blinds (one of my favorite materials to work with).

But how useful is a dress made out of mini blinds?  While it certainly gets attention, and looks wicked cool, am I really helping the environment by building a specialty dress that fits a small group of woman, and that can’t really be sat in comfortably?  Is my output worth it? I spent about 100 hours collecting, cutting, sawing, drilling, patterning, sewing, and fitting the model.  Its debatable.

Fast forward to this residency.  I’ve been challenged to make 10 pieces for September.  I knew going in, I wasn’t going to be able to construct 10 outrageous garments.  (there just are not that many hours in a day-one can take upwards of 6 months). I thought I’d make at least one insane outfit (as is my signature stuff), and I’d also create some crazy cool hats and wigs.  But now, I’m feeling this growing responsibility to make practical items, or things that will get worn and used often.

Here are my first “practical” wearable pieces.  They are made from metal mini blinds.


Trash Talking Artist…Jughead!

Hunting for art materials at the Metro Transfer Station is a lot like fishing!  I didn’t get to do a whole lot of it as a kid, but on those few times when we were out on some lake or river (even on ice…yes, ice fishing in the dead of winter!), I always felt that there was some element of LUCK in getting to pull in that coveted “big one.”  
There are big ones to be had at the dump, but it almost always involves being in the right place at the right time. Today was no exception.  I now often try to “follow” (either on foot, or with my eyes) the trucks that make their way into the bay, watching carefully for the kinds of things that get quickly tossed.  Today was also the second time that I quickly introduced myself to the folks who were off-loading lots of old comic books from their truck (I’m still a little shy about going up to people asking for their trash, but with practice, I’m getting a little more bold).  I was particularly interested in the old “Archie” comic books (wrapped in cellophane, no less), published over forty years ago.


I love the pages of these comics…colorful and pulpy!  I have big plans to incorporate these pages into some of my boxes.  The big issue that I’m having (as I’ve had with some other things that I’ve gleaned), is that I really hate to cut these marvelous old comics apart. 
There were a number of other comics in the mix.  I may just have to take from some of these first…they are not quite as vintage.


By the way, I was never a big fan of “ice fishing.”  I was always worried that our car would sink through the ice (as had actually happened to others)…not a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Trash Talking Artist…smile for the camera

I gleaned today for three hours-late morning and early afternoon.  This was the day of the “photo motherlode.”  I quickly got to know the folks in one of the trucks that drove into the bay to off-load their trash (unusual for me, as I seldom approach anyone who drives in).  I had noticed that they were tossing a pile of vintage photos, many of them dating back several decades.  I quickly introduced myself as one of the five artists working with a gleaning art grant, etc., and asked if I could take the photos off their hands for use in some of my projects.  The mentioned that they didn’t know the identity of these people and were quite pleased to have me retrieve them from the piles of trash.  This was my first discovery of just a few of the photos:


After having a better look once I got the boxes of photos back to my cart, these are just a few of the kinds of treasures that turned up:

Woo hoo!!  This was truly one of those “motherlode” finds for me today.  I’ve always enjoyed using old photos in my assemblage work in the past, wanting to create a new story for these “unknowns” in my own way.

Trash Talking Artist…the “stuff” challenge

One of the interesting challenges that seems to be coming up since I’ve been able to move my search for assemblage-type materials to the city dump is discovering how to creatively use some of the amazing items that I’m finding…”stuff” that I’ve never even considered using (or had available) in the past.  Needless to say, I’m UP to the challenge !!

My most recent challenges of “stuff” include these kinds of things:

four dozen new golf balls

 old tools

long metal screws from an old bass drum

rusted metals

numerous other items


My latest experiement….

This is a large World atlas.  The paper butterfly lying on top is going to be the pattern for what I cut out.

My trusty band saw!

The guts of the World Atlas that I cut out.

This is the Atlas open, with a mirror underneath.

This will be a wall mounted piece.  At this present stage, I am slightly worried it’s too cheesy and simplistic.  I’m going to play around with more texture to glam it up– possibly trying quilling some paper.  I will say,  I like some of it’s rawness right now, but what I most like about it is how I survived cutting this giant book without injury 🙂  I was sweating pretty hard around some of those corners.


^’/\’^ {tape and sticker battalion} ^’/\’^.

Before I get started with my blog I’m gonna have to throw out another one of these .^’/\’^.  There we go, so anyway,  I came across a whole bunch of stickers and tape at the Transfer Station over the weekend.  I haven’t really worked with tape before, but after finding a few colorful rolls and dispensers that will soon change.  

This is by far the largest sticker I have ever seen, and it isn’t even halfway unrolled.  Just to throw it out there .^/\^. … it runs about the entire length of my studio,





Trash Talking Artist…falcons and hawks

I also stopped to talk with the falconer last Thursday afternoon at the Transfer Station.  This raptor cage is one of the first things that I see when I head to the office to check in for a few hours of gleaning:

Like all “dumping” areas everywhere, Recology’s Transfer Station has its share of nuisance birds coming in to eat from the rotting piles of food scraps.  A falconer is contracted for a few days each week to bring his birds to the site to assist with this problem.

He brings two falcons and two hawks, allowing one at a time to “work the area.”  He has them fully trained to respond to the treats that he carries in his pockets, which allows him to let them fly free over the area, thus scaring the  highly intelligent crows as well as the pigeons and gulls.  The raptors seem to do a remarkable job by scaring off the other birds merely by their presence.

As a result of this little introduction into the world of falconry, I’ve been watching this link:  Red-tailed Hawks…streaming video (in HD) direct from the nest of a family of hawks (with three chicks) in the eastern part of the country.