Creating Art through Upcycling

Art comes in many forms, but some materials can be quite expensive for the average person.  If you are interested in producing art in a more economical way, consider using the principles of upcycling when working on a design.  Various discarded household items can have a second life as art if it is given a chance.  If this sounds like something you would like to try, consider starting with the below listed suggestions.

Creating Art through Upcycling

Collages and Graphic Art

One of the simplest upcycling projects to begin with is creating a collage, or other form of graphic art, from discarded paper items.  You can choose to have a theme, such as with the creation of a dream board, or allow it to develop more organically.  The project can include pages or snippets from magazines, catalogues, or books that are otherwise damaged.  Otherwise, all you would need are a pair of scissors, a larger board or paper to serve as a backing, and some glue or tape.

Some less traditional options can include price tags from clothing, shoes, and accessories, product labels or boxes, mailers and old coupons, empty tissue boxes, and so much more.  If a paper-based item has a lovely color, pattern, or picture, it should be considered fair game.

Some lovely, minimalist pieces can be created from free paint swatches and some scissors, or a specialty paper punch tool.  You can create a bold, graphic design in minutes, using almost any color imaginable.

Glass Jars and Bottles

Empty glass jars and bottles have a lot of potential as art.  Once the labels are removed, glass items can be easily painted and tinted to create colorful displays appropriate for a variety of purposes and seasons.

For those who want to get a little more personal, glass etching can be done with some stencils and glass etching fluid.  Once the stencil is completely secured, you just add a coating of the glass etching medium and let it sit.  After the suggested amount of time has passed, you just rinse the etching fluid off and remove the stencil, leaving a lovely etched design behind.  If glass etching fluid sounds a little dangerous, you can also use a spray paint designed to leave a look similar to frosted glass.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can try your hand at glass cutting.  By using special tools, sections can be cut from bottles are jars.  They can be used to create a variety of pieces ranging from candle holders or luminaries, to wind chimes and sun catchers.  Some people even turn discard bottles into drinking glasses.  In all cases, it is important to properly sand the edges of any cut pieces to avoid injury.

Alternatives to Paint

Many discarded items can be used to create lovely alternatives to traditional paint.  For example, used lapsang souchong tea bags or discarded coffee grounds can be used to create an earthy brown shade that, when applied to paper, has an effect similar to that seen in traditional watercolors.

If you have some milk that may not be finished before it turns, you can combine that with a bite of lime and some chalk to create a lovely milk paint base that can be tinted to until you find your desired shade.  Children’s finger paints can also be created with some flour, salt, water, and food coloring.