How I Created Useful Art from Trash

I’m amazed at the positive response to my Practical Sanctuary post. Here are some more favorite things I recreated from stuff collected from yard sales and our local recycling transfer station. We used to tell our city friends that our country home was furnished in early American white trash. We’ve upgraded the quality of our trash over the years.

Even as a wee tot, Cassie was a hard working apprentice. We designed and fabricated a lot of stuff together. Our first project was a swan mailbox. We transformed a small black plastic mailbox into a beautiful swan by cutting, shaping, forming, and attaching recycled black plastic sheet to the box. Then we spray painted it, pasted our house numbers on the front flap, and placed it on the road. It became a local landmark.

swan mailbox 2Next we built a bunny bench out of recycled plywood, two small branches for ears, three large branches for structure, and reconstituted shrink wrap for seating. The ears didn’t last, so we performed plastic surgery and made matching floppy ears from shrink wrap.

bunny bench

We created a food compost bin out of recycled plywood and reconstituted shrink wrap.

compost bin 2

Cassie raised a baby farm animal each summer. We built a wire pen and an animal hutch out of recycled plywood and plastics. At the end of summer when we had to return to NYC, we gave our creatures to people who would love and not eat them. We got to visit with them over the years. They all remembered Cassie. We got wool from Lilly, our black lamb who became a sheep, and cheese and soap from Zelda, our Alpine goat (my personal favorite) who had an insatiable appetite and babies of her own.

animal hutch

mark & cassie with bunnies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made the roof of the bottom story of our tree house from reconstituted shrink wrap. It’s still in great shape after eighteen years of personal wear and tear, tree sap, and weather.

Cassie in tree house 2

Cassie in tree house 3

Our country home was a disaster waiting to happen when we first arrived. It was dark and moldy with low ceilings, an uninsulated slab, horrible plumbing, cobbled electrics, and a leaky roof supported by rotting beams. Our friends were planning to bulldoze it. We convinced them to let us rent it for a modest fee in exchange for transforming it. The first thing I did was to tear out the ceiling in the middle of the space and reinforce the rafters. Metal joist hangers, corner braces, and connecting hardware make the beams beneath the birch plywood ceiling look like an erector set. Prior to paneling, I cut open the roof and created two round sky lights using large plastic bubbles I scavenged from a ‘going out of business’ plastics sale on Canal Street in NYC. The last thing I built was a loft space for Cassie and her friends to play in and have sleepovers.

Cassie in loft space

2 thoughts on “How I Created Useful Art from Trash

  1. What a great upbringing you and Joanna gave Cassie. it’s no wonder that she grew up to be this beautiful, talented, bright young woman!

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