Upcycling: Making Art, Furniture, and Everyday Objects Out of Trash

As I perused the eco friendly informational display booths of organizations such as the Appalachian Mountain Club and Mass Energy at Earth Night 2010 in Boston, a vibrant object in the corner of the room caught my eye.  As I looked closer, I realized it was a stool, full of vividly interspersed color that resembled modern art more than a piece of furniture.  I was immediately drawn to the object and decided to admire it up close.  I quickly realized this was no ordinary stool, but a stool made out of old magazines.


Cameron's ReVision Stool


Luckily, the artist that designed this piece, Cameron, caught me ogling and came up to talk to me.  He explained that the stools are constructed from old rolled up magazines that are held together by rubber bands and fit into a square resin mold.  The stool stands on legs made of steel rods that are also adorned with magazines, providing not only style but extra support.  Cameron is a sculptor for an organization called Artists for Humanity (AFH).  Founded in 1990, AFH was created to provide underserved city youth with an opportunity to engage and build a voice through art projects while developing respect and responsibility through a collaborative work place.  In addition to sculpting, the organization offers programs in painting, design, photography, screen printing, and videography, and artists earn commission on any sold works.  The stool is part of AFH’s new ReVision sculpting line; sustainable furniture composed of old magazines, newspapers, junk-mail, steel, and environmentally friendly resin-mold – not plastic, as Cameron assured me.  A fresh idea, but at a hefty price tag, can it function without breaking?  Doubting the structural integrity of this so called furniture, I decided to give the stool a try and plopped down upon it.  Lo and behold, my 175 lbs frame was unable to collapse this marvel of engineering!  Fully impressed at this point, I thanked Cameron and congratulated him on having the coolest display at Earth Night.

Thumbs up to AFH for mixing in some style while promoting socially conscious and sustainable living.  The stool inspired me to further research the concept of art made from trash.  Let’s look at what I found:



A statue of a road runner in New Mexico. The belly is made from white sneakers while the rest is composed of a variety of junk.



A self portrait by artist Tom Deininger.



Zoomed in, you can see he used anything from cigarette butts to old receipts to create this work.



A pile of trash, some light, and you've got yourself a new medium for your art.


While looking at these, I stumbled upon the term upcycling: the use of waste products to produce new materials of better quality or higher environmental value.  Let’s take a look at some everyday objects made from stuff found in your local landfill.


A beautiful dress made from chip-bags. Surely we'll see actress and environmentalist Meryl Streep rock this at the Oscars next year. Then again, probably not.




Maybe I can convince Meryl to take one of these awesome wristlets made from candy wrappers as an accessory though.



A chair you can read in that's made from the books you've already read!



A pimp cup for the beer lovers among us.


There are a million examples on the net and I only picked a few to display here.  The point is you can get creative, make garbage look stylish, and save our planet all at the same time!  After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I leave you with a somewhat related video of Joshua Allen Harris, who made trashbags into his treasure.



Filed under Greener Lifestyle - Hobbies

6 responses to “Upcycling: Making Art, Furniture, and Everyday Objects Out of Trash

  1. Lauren

    My speech team actually made those wristlets as wallets for people. It takes a long time to make though, and a lot of chip bags!

  2. marina

    another amazing artist is nek chand, who created an entire sculpture garden out of used materials… there are so many people and ideas out there that can be a source of inspiration for thinking outside the normal cycle of consumption and disposal. because nothing is ever thrown “away”… keep it up with the enlightenment of the people, igor!

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