Read on to meet our up-cycling artists for this show.
Sam Church and Kevin Bobbe
My husband and I love doing projects together. We renovated four rooms in our house in 3 months and fell in love with creating. We are frugal, and I have always felt passionately about recycling, so we started getting resourceful with materials. Soon friends and family admired the things we created for our home and suggested we continue our up-cycling more publicly. Rustic is our theme at home, and I had to make many of the decor items for our wedding, which introduced us to barrels and suitcases as we had them for the reception.
We applied for this show because we are just as excited to see what it brings to share with the community as we are to be contributors.
For the barrel pieces we meet with brewers and see who can get us a deal for the barrels they can’t use anymore. Then we design what we want to do with the barrel, in this case, using only half of it in order to hang on a wall. I do the cleaning and restoration of the barrel. My husband does the cutting and logistics of making it hangable. We come together in the finishing of the product in order to make sure the piece looks the way we envisioned.
The dartboard is our favorite piece. It brought up multiple challenges and took a lot of problem solving to get the finished piece the way we wanted. It improved our own communication in our relationship and was better than our original vision once complete.
We can be found on Instagram- ForgeATrail, and Etsy- Que the Prime
“I have been a woodworker all of my life, even during my active 35-year business manager and consultant phase. I discovered live edge or natural edge woods about five years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. This style incorporates the natural edge of the wood into the design of the piece making each one unique. All of the woods have been responsibly harvested along the Colorado Front Range from dead or dying old growth. All of my mesquite comes from another responsible sawmill in Tucson, AZ. Some pieces incorporate gemstone inlay to repair damaged knots or to fill cracks, while others display these imperfections in a “distressed” look and feel. Each piece undergoes ten to fifteen crafting steps to complete the unique look and feel of natural edge tables and other furnishings.
My creations have been represented at 45 Degree Gallery in Old Colorado City for four years and in shows in Lakewood, CO at the 40 West Arts District .”
I have been working in kiln-formed (fused) glass for 15 years, and I immediately became interested in how to utilize scrap glass and bottle glass. I've tried many media over time, but glass is the medium that stole my heart and soul!
I love rescuing bottles from the recycle bin! I feel it is doing a small but important thing that's within my control to help the environment. Many bottles are made with beautiful glass, and this is a way to enjoy their beauty without need to toss them away. It's also important to reuse art glass scrap. So much is created in the process of making kiln-formed glass, and it is hard to store. Being able to use it to create other pieces helps alleviate that problem, and also helps me resist the temptation to just throw it away! I've also created new pieces from those that have broken, which happens occasionally when you're dealing with glass. This way the glass can be used to create a new piece instead of winding up in a scrap bucket or the trash. My piece Shattered in this exhibit is an example of that process.
Scrap Luminary is perhaps my favorite piece, not only because of the beauty of the glass, but because it easily demonstrates the use of scrap glass to create a piece. Also, this glass is no longer being manufactured since the company that made it has gone out of business.
In addition to Commonwheel's open calls, my work can be seen at the Manitou Art Center, and I occasionally exhibit at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, The Modbo, The Bridge Gallery, as well as on Facebook (LoLo's Paloozas) and Instagram (@lolospaloozas).
My professional art path began in 2007 when I started making how-to jewelry designs for magazines. My educational background is in English literature and library science, not art, so I learned jewelry fundamentals through books and short workshops. My current jewelry currently focuses on simple metalwork. For my mixed media works, I love using contrasting layers like soft fabrics and ribbon with harder elements like metal and wood. I also use books, maps, and words in my work as a nod to my education. With all my work I especially enjoy creating pieces that are funny or that have some kind of secret or story behind them.
With jewelry, I work on an extremely small scale and have to worry about things like weight, ease of use, and durability. It's fun to explore larger canvases like those I used for this exhibit and not worry about the normal restrictions of jewelry design. (It's much less likely that someone will submerge one of my framed works in a chlorinated pool for 30 minutes!) Plus, I've been volunteering at Who Gives a SCRAP in Fort Collins for about a year and that's renewed my interest in using items destined for the landfill.
Sometimes I'll begin with a particular material, such as a book I've found at a library book sale or wine corks from the Who Gives a SCRAP shop. I keep a small box of discarded materials such as mint tins, wood chopsticks, metal washers, watch parts, game pieces, and old house keys that I can rummage through when the mood strikes. Other times I might start with a quote or a certain theme. (All my works for this show incorporate a flower motif.)
I usually do some sketching before beginning work, but mainly to capture my ideas rather than as a detailed step-by-step blueprint. I plan ahead if a piece will be framed, so I can work to the correct size. (Thrift stores are a great place to find inexpensive frames.)
I work from back to front, creating the backgrounds first before layering the top pieces. Backgrounds include painted wood, paper, hardback book covers, or metal. For metal, I typically emboss, stamp, or hammer to add texture. I may also darken or paint the metal.
Next comes the detail work such as stitching together the flower petals shown in “Never Too Late”. The petals are created with ribbons of sari silk, which is made from the scraps of saris made in India. If needed, I seal any paint or paper to protect the piece from dust.
I like to leave larger pieces on my worktable for at least a few days so that I can audition various scraps and see how they look together. For example, I looked at using leather watchband pieces or old heart charms as flower petals, but ultimately decided to use the ribbon. The final step is to glue, rivet, sew, wire, or otherwise attach all the layers together and insert the finished piece in the frame.
My favorite piece for “Waste Not, Want Not” is “Never Too Late.” The pink flower seems very sweet, but the distressed copper and steel spring gives it a slightly rougher edge. I find this quote intriguing. I like to think that seeing these positive words every day could empower the right person. It also makes a great motto for the upcycled materials used in this show: there's so much potential that is going unused.
My work can be found at:
fabric collage art
Over 20 years ago I helped my sister K.C. Willis work on her fabric collage art. She had a huge following and was very successful with this medium. She shifted her attention from art to a very successful dog rescue called “Lightshine Canine”. The fabric collage art fell by the wayside for a very long time. About two years ago I decided, along with her consent to resurrect this particular art form and am now very busy making my own fabric collages using the techniques and tips I learned from her. This art form breathes life into recycled materials and celebrates the strong men and women who have made dynamic contributions to their cultures. Multiple layers of treated and aged fabrics combined with recycled embellishments and skilled composition along with great attention to detail, texture and color are the basics of each piece.
I have always been a huge fan of Commonwheel and when I saw the word “up-cycled art” show, I knew this was my chance to show some of my work. I was so delighted and thrilled when I was chosen as one of the artists for this show.
One of the things I enjoy the most with my art is that my 85-year-old mother and I collaborate on the pieces. She does all of the sewing. We begin by buying plain muslin fabric and tear the material to whatever size we need. It is then laundered and ironed. The next process is submerging the material in coffee to get a “antique” effect. We scour thrift stores, yard sales and antique shops to find the perfect embellishments and unique fabrics that make up the front and the back of the piece. I then print out the desired photo on photo transfer paper and iron it onto a piece of the coffee stained muslin. The photo is then glued onto the front of the piece and then are embellished with antique buttons, vintage drapes, old wedding dresses, clothing, belts, jewelry, you name it are added onto the front. I then will add verbiage or a quote that the subject actually said.
I have to say that my favorite piece in the show is the one with Frida Kahlo on it. She has been my muse for many, many years.
My website is rhondanicholscollageart.com.
I am a featured artist in one of the largest art galleries in South Dakota called “Prairies Edge”.
Some of my Frida pieces are hanging in Cucuru gallery in Old Colorado City.
I showed over 20 Frida pieces in the “Frida, A Celebration of Her Life” at the Westwood Center for the Arts in Denver, Colorado
Linda Sampson is a mixed media artist in Colorado. Her blog and YouTube are under the “Take Time to Create.” Her philosophy is that we all should take time out of our everyday lives to create new and wonderful things. Because we all tend to get too busy in our day to day lives it is so important to take the time to create. She teaches classes at her local creative reuse center and does video tutorials on YouTube and sells some of her items on Etsy.
I saw an ad for the show, and I was inspired to be a part of a show that is all about up-cycling, reusing, and recycling. I have always been a believer in using what we have, and a lot of my art comes from reusing items I have on hand, or items that I purchased from a creative reuse center.
I usually start with a photograph and use that as my inspiration. I then find fabrics that will help me create what I am envisioning. I like to use re-purposed fabrics, or fabrics from a creative reuse center. Then I put a layer of heavy gel on the canvas and soak the fabric in gel medium and adhere it to the canvas. I add other elements as needed and once it is dry, I will add paint to add interest and detail. Once it has dried for a few days I will spray the canvas with a UV protection spray.
My favorite piece is the Hawaiian Sunset. The fabric was my inspiration for this canvas and this piece started me on my fabric art journey.
My work can be found at:
I have been doing mosaics for the last 4 years. It was only after moving to Colorado Springs from Chicago that my passion for mosaics started. It began with an old window that I brought with me with the move. As I unpacked that window the wheels started spinning on how I could bring that old window back to life. I purchased some scrap glass from a local glass store and made my first mosaic using all up-cycled materials. From there I started purchasing old glass blocks and made them into mosaic lights. My chosen materials are anything that can be used in mosaics, scrap stained glass, beads, tempered glass (crash glass), and china. I always try to incorporate some type of up-cycling in all my pieces. I also spread the love of mosaics by teaching classes. I currently teach classes at Who Gives a SCRAP, Kismet Mosaics, Full Spectrum Art Glass Supply Store and in November I will also be teaching in Denver.
I was inspired to apply for this show for several reasons. First and foremost is to keep things out of the landfill.
I love the creative process of making a mosaic as my workspace is overflowing of things that I have collected from people throwing things away, multiple trips to the thrift stores and Who Gives a SCRAP so once I have a piece to create I have a lot of tesserae to choose from.
I don’t think I have a favorite in this show as I like them all for different reasons. However, if I had to choose, I would say one of the birds. My love of birds comes from my Midwest roots sitting on the patio with my parents and watching all the birds that would come to my Mom’s bird feeders.
My work and classes can be found at:
Facebook: Shattered Glass Restored - Upcycled Mosaics
Instagram: Shattered Glass Restored
My family has always welcomed and encouraged creativity, and I grew up surrounded by art in one form or another. My mainstay in art media for many years has been drawing and printmaking, primarily reduction prints and landscapes. Then several years ago I took some jewelry-making classes and enjoyed working with silver for a while. The recent shift to working with upcycling is purely a fun direction. Not only does the upcycled object find a new functionality, but its surface also becomes a new canvas to play with color and form in the final design.
The idea of upcycling is a fun and creative process, and to be able to share these pieces in the Commonwheel’s show seemed like a perfect fit.
In making the tables and shelves, I prefer to work with old wooden drawers (dovetail joints are a plus) and stair balusters for the legs. My source for these has been the Habitat for Humanity ReStore here in Colorado Springs. A real treasure trove! Once the drawers are cleaned up, I assemble the piece with its legs, and use wood stain and acrylic paint to complete the design with a clear coat finish for protection. I like to put drawer handles in place to show the original purpose of the drawer. The overall design is something that I play with from piece to piece. It might come to me from the shape and size of the drawer, or the turning of the balusters, or a pattern that intrigues me.
For this show, my favorite piece is the Wheat Stalks standing shelf because of the Arts and Crafts movement feel in the motif. It’s also a good-size drawer that made for an interesting shelf design.
My artwork can be seen at my home studio by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m an ex-administrative assistant/secretary with a crafty soul and passion for decoupage (the technique of decoration on a surface with cutouts of paper with glue). When working full-time, I was crafting and creating during my spare time. I’ve always been fascinated by decorating things.
As a volunteer at Who Gives A Scrap; I adore all the vintage and craft items for sale to upcycle and heard about this show. My inspiration comes from memories of my great-grandmother’s Victorian house and her simple way of life.
The act of upcycling something unused into something new is so fun and spontaneous . . .watching your creation develop like a flower and seeing it bloom before your eyes!
My process is connecting images with sentiments/quotes as a main theme and then decorating with rubberstamping, embossing, and embellishments.
I source materials to upcycle and decorate (cigar box, Altoid® tin, fan blade, glue, Modge-Podge®, rubber stamps, postage stamps, embellishments, etc.) from Who Gives A Scrap.
Find an item to upcycle and decoupage. Find a vintage copyright free image and think of a sentiment or quote to compliment the image. On the computer, create a design to size and add a sentiment using a typeface font. Print it, add rubber stamping, embossing techniques, and glitter. Cut print and decoupage on item. Seal with varnish. Adhere embellishments.
My favorite piece is the Decoupage “Something to Smile About Fan Blade”. I love the vintage Victorian girl image and it has a wonderful sentiment. It is such a beautiful wooden vintage fan blade that it speaks for itself. The very act of creating the piece puts something of yourself into the work which is magical!
My work can be found at: