Recycling the Artistic Way

The most successful way to conserve scarce resources is to avoid using them at all, so doing away with unnecessary packaging and reducing the amount of materials we use are good steps. However, once the materials have been used to make something, the next most effective way to conserve resources is to reuse those items rather than simply dumping them or sending them for recycling. Art is one way that people can not only help the environment by re-using materials, but also create something worthwhile and have some fun in the process. That’s what I’ve been doing for the first time this week.

Whale of a Time by Sarah Lewis, ShoreLark

An Artistic Population

I live in Flintshire in North Wales, and there are a large number of people in the surrounding area who get involved in artistic endeavours. Among them are a group of people who make beautiful items out of ‘found’ objects such as glass, pebbles, wood and paper. The sculpture of a whale was made by my talented friend Sarah, using driftwood and blue sea glass, and you can see more of her work, and many other talented artists here. I’ve always been fond of walking on our local beaches and am frequently amazed by the array of beautiful pebbles of all different shapes, sizes and colours. I’m also attracted to sea glass – bits of broken glass that have been rubbed smooth and polished by the action of the wind and waves over many years until they look like little gems, and I usually return from my walks with a few of these in my pocket.

Using Beach Finds

Up until now, I haven’t had a clue what to do with my beach finds other than to heap them up and admire them, but I have now discovered that you can turn them into fascinating little pieces of art. I went to a workshop this week with some members of local art groups, where we all had a ‘play’ with some found materials and made them into pictures. We made pictures and sculptures out of pebbles, glass, reclaimed paper, grasses and dried seed heads. It was all great fun and very creative, and it got me thinking of the uses I could find for any other materials I planned to discard.

Making Sea Glass

Many years ago, I had bought myself a tumble polishing machine – it’s a set of rollers powered by a small motor that uses about the same amount of power as a light bulb. You put the materials into a small drum along with water and a small amount of polishing powder, and they tumble against each other until they become smooth and shiny. I found out that if you do this with bits of the glass bottles that were destined to be recycled, in a few days you have something that looks like sea glass, but much quicker. I’ve now got a new hobby – creating sea glass and turning it into sculptures, and my glass recycling box will be less full in future!

It’s a creative and fun way to re-use materials and I can heartily recommend it as a great way to pass the time when the weather is awful and you can’t get out for beach combing.

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