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How-To-Do 3 Projects with Artist-in-Residence Calder Kamin

Recycling champion and DoSeum artist-in-residence Calder Kamin sees waste as creative treasure. In her world, discarded grocery bags breath new life as colorful flowers and animal friends. Ancient (ok, from the 90s) keyboards, phones, and CDs become jewels in a masterpiece. Take a walk through Calder’s electronic-studded Time Machine Tunnel on display now as a part of the Dream Tomorrow Today exhibit, and you’ll see new possibilities for single-use plastics.

“Nature's ability to endlessly adapt and reuse waste inspires me to transform trash and re-imagine it as art. The materials I use send a message about how we can be better stewards of the planet,” Calder said. “[For caregivers] It’s best to start instilling values of creativity and conservation early on so their children continue to see opportunity through art and creative reuse.”

If you’re feeling moved by Calder’s philosophy, check out these three How-To-Dos, where Calder teaches us to make Easter egg flowers, crocheted flowers, and impact-proof bird decals. Each activity uses materials found in your home, and are accessible to both adults and children (if making with children, please be sure to properly supervise the use of the necessary tools). Before you know it, you’ll be seeing trash with the eyes of an artist!


How-To-Do
Plastic Egg Flowers

Materials

  • plastic eggs
  • garden shears
  • plastic straws

Instructions

1. Open up the plastic egg and start with one half.

2. Cut around the edges to create petals.

3. Enlarge hole at the center of egg and insert plastic straw to resemble a flower stem. See Calder’s demonstration here.


Plastic Bag Crocheted Flowers

Materials

  • plastic shopping bags, any color
  • scissors
  • crochet hook

Instructions

1. Flatten out a plastic shopping bag.

2. Cut, removing the handles and bottom seam.

3. Roll it long ways, from side to side—like a burrito!

4. Cut rolled bags into one-inch strips.

5. Open the strips into a ring and begin to weave the pieces by looping them together on each end of the ring.

6. Continue to hand weave the strips into each other for desired length of plastic “yarn.”

7. With the plastic “yarn” created in steps 1–6, crochet to your heart’s desire.

8. Step-by-step flower crochet instruction can be found here. See Calder’s demonstration here.


Impact Proof Bird Decals

Concerned about bird death and injury due to windows, Calder invented these decals to signal to birds that there is an obstruction in their flight path. Place in south facing and large windows, where glass is particularly dangerous for birds.

Materials

  • Impact Proof stencil found on Calder's website
  • scissors
  • construction paper
  • coloring tools (crayons, markers, or pencils)
  • scotch tape

Instructions

  1. Trace decal print-out onto construction paper.
  2. Decorate or replicate the bird’s plumage.
  3. Cut out.
  4. Tape to windows in your home or school.

Finally, Calder suggests looking in unexpected places for “art supplies.”

“I collect any items from the ground or my home where I see potential: a plastic bag, a bottle cap, or a bread tab to be able to create the textures that make up my animals,” she said. “My process has become more intuitive and experimental since I opened myself to new materials beyond plastic bags.”

Calder even gets friends to mail plastic bags from all over the U.S. and collects items from her local recycling center.

All you really need in order to make recycled art, Calder says, is “curiosity, imagination, scissors, garden shears, hands and a hot glue gun (with adult supervision).”

Happy re-crafting, y’all!

Have a Calder-inspired project you’d like to share with The DoSeum’s blog? Email pictures to monicafsimmons@gmail.com.

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