Eyecatchers: Upcycling: Allied Arts Recycled Art Exhibit

Allied-5It’s been ages since my last Upcycling installment, but this weekend I visited an exhibit at a local art gallery that focused entirely on pieces made from recycled materials, and I just had to share.

Allied Arts of Whatcom County hosted their second annual Recycled Art & Resource Expo (RARE) this past weekend, an event that included exhibits, workshops, and presentations at various locations in town.

My favorites were on view at Allied Arts’ Cornwall Avenue gallery, where the majority of the works took the form of multimedia sculpture, like Graham Schodda’s Magneto, featured in the lede photo here, fashioned from: a vintage drill, piston, rods, fuel filter, insulator, and radio antenna.

I LOVE the imagination on display here, how the artist saw in these discarded scraps — once intended for much more utilitarian purposes — that they might be pieced together to form various subjects or some new functional item, like this clock by Karin Mueller, titled Time To Call Mom, made from a vintage cigar box, telephone, clock:


The exhibit will be up through April 24th, so, if you are in Bellingham consider checking it out. And/or, check out my other Upcycling installments, or just Google ‘upcycling’ if this kind of thing strikes your fancy.

In the meantime, here are some of my other faves from the RARE show:

Graham Shodda: vintage thermos, jigsaw, window winders, spatulas, gas can spout, etc.
Graham Shodda, “Thermo” – vintage thermos, jigsaw, window winders, spatulas, gas can spout, etc.
Karen Mueller, "Chicken or the Egg" - mixed media
Karen Mueller, “Chicken or the Egg” – mixed media
Rafael Mithuna, "Bomb Fin Lantern" - WWII bomb fin, WWII military transport parts
Rafael Mithuna, “Bomb Fin Lantern” – WWII bomb fin, WWII military transport parts
Launi Lucas, "Gnarwall" - mixed media
Launi Lucas, “Gnarwall” – mixed media
Rafael Mithuna, "Budenberg Steam Lamp" - early 1900s steam test equipment, lamp parts, plumbing parts
Rafael Mithuna, “Budenberg Steam Lamp” – early 1900s steam test equipment, lamp parts, plumbing parts
Alana Coleman, "Lovers Tango" - mixed media
Alana Coleman, “Lovers Tango” – mixed media

More Chandeliers From Recycled Bicycle Parts

light-1Similar to a post I did back in October 2012, this could easily belong in my Tweet of the Day, Eyecatchers, or Upcycling series…

…AND, both posts involve chandeliers made from recycled bicycle parts…

…AND, both posts were sourced from tweets by Christopher Jobson at Colossal.

…AND, since Fish & Bicycles LOVES all things bicycle, this was a no-brainer.

The amazing bike part lighting here, titled Ballroom Luminoso, the work of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock, is installed in a highway underpass in San Antonio, Texas, taking street art to a whole other level.

Via Colossal:

Ballroom Luminoso references the area’s past, present, and future in the design of its intricately detailed medallions. The images in the medallions draw on the community’s agricultural history, strong Hispanic heritage, and burgeoning environmental movement. The medallions are a play on the iconography of La Loteria, which has become a touchstone of Hispanic culture. Utilizing traditional tropes like La Escalera (the Ladder), La Rosa (the Rose), and La Sandía (the Watermelon), the piece alludes to the neighborhood’s farming roots and horticultural achievements. Each character playfully rides a bike acting as a metaphor for the neighborhood’s environmental progress, its concurrent eco-restoration projects, and its developing cycling culture.

Anyway, here are some more photos of this amazing work:





Upcycling: Awesome Piano Bike!

piano-bikeAs a blogger who LOVES bicycles, and who has the word bicycle in the title of his blog, how can I not write about this?

Via grist.org:

What would you do if you had an old $80 piano and a big tricycle? Would you throw them out? Not if you were San Francisco musician Gary Skaggs. He turned this seemingly useless combo into gold…

Since 2008, Skaggs has been taking his bike to San Francisco’s hopping tourist area, the Embarcadero, to perform. And he gets lots of tips. Take that, recession/supposed recovery!

Upcycling at it’s finest, zero emission transportation, exercise, and musical entertainment all in one package!

That’s awesomeness.

Here’s a video about Gary and his wondeful piano bike. Pedal on, Gary!

Upcycling: Iris’ Recycled Skateboard

back-to-the-futureRemember that scene from the 1985 movie Back to the Future, where Marty McFly, in a panic to get away from a gang of thugs in pursuit, “borrows” a scooter from a kid, rips the crate/handlebar assembly from the platform, and gets away on what appears to be the first skateboard any of the onlookers have ever seen?

Well, that’s one unique way to make a skateboard, and now George Rocha at Iris Skateboards in San Francisco has come up with another method, one that is supremely satisfying from a sustainability, reduce-reuse-recycle perspective:

iris_skateboardVia Wired.com:

George Rocha turned his life-long skateboarding passion into a career of building massive concrete skateparks. Now he’s added another product to his repertoire: artisan-quality wooden skateboards assembled from strips of used and broken boards.

Modern skateboards are made of plywood. It gives them both strength and flexibility — the perpendicular placement of each wooden layer helps the overall board withstand cracks, while the complex curvatures are made possible by pressing the individually pliable sheets of wood into a mold while being glued. As plywood decks became the norm, manufacturers began to color layers to add a visual element. Strips of red, blue, yellow, pink or various combinations could be found between the light hues of natural wood, with splashy graphics on the board’s bottoms and black grip tape on top, sometimes cut into artistic patterns.

Rocha assembles new decks using the remnants of broken and discarded skateboards, laminating them together and slicing the resulting stack sideways to create his material. The result is gorgeous and always unique, turning the distinct patterning of the thin multicolored ply into the standout feature of the decks’ tops and bottoms.

Rocha also uses ground recycled glass to create a course traction surface for the top of the deck.

Check out this cool video, showing how the boards are made.

Eyecatchers: Upcycling: Heather Kocsis

heather-kocsis-lead-2At first glance, it’s not at all immediately clear exactly what you’re looking at when you’re looking at the work of Ontario, Canada artist Heather Kocsis.

Her pieces look a little bit like paintings, but there’s so much texture and depth of perspective.

So, what the hell are they?!

The answer makes for a great installment in both my Eyecatchers and Upcycling recurring series.

Via Inhabitat:

If the measure of a truly successful piece of art is its ability to draw the viewer in, Heather Kocsis’ entrancing vignettes of New York City life certainly fit the bill. Handcrafted from reclaimed pieces of wood that have been broken down and painted to resemble miniature fire escapes, brick walls and windows, each diorama offers a new little world to be explored.

Most of the wood Kocsis uses to create her pieces is salvaged or given to her by others. Any wood that is dry and in good shape is utilized.

What I love the most about Kocsis’ work, besides the clever technique and the amazing attention to detail, is how these pieces capture the unlikely beauty of aging urban structures, a kind of beauty that stands in stark contrast to the clean, minimalist designs of modern architecture.

And, of course, that the artist uses mostly reclaimed materials appeals to my treehugging sensibilities.

Be sure to check out the more complete galleries at Inhabitat and Heather Kocsis‘ website, but in the meantime, here’s some more of her work. Enjoy!






Upcycling: Plank Sofa Table

sofa-table-1It’s been a LONG time since an installment in my Upcycling series featured a project of my own making. (See: More Fun With Shipping Pallets)

I’ve done a few small projects since then, nothing really post-worthy, but today I’m excited to share this simple sofa table, made entirely of recycled building materials, obtained at the RE Store here in Bellingham.

The plank for the top was actually purchased nearly a year ago. I was browsing around the reclaimed lumber shed, spotted this wonderfully weathered, thick hunk of wood, knew instantly that I wanted it, took it home, stored it in the garage, and there in the garage it embarrassingly remained for WAY too long.

In the meantime, I’d made numerous trips to the RE Store and elsewhere, looking for additional materials, originally thinking I’d make a bench, deciding instead on a sofa or side table, but, alas, the design for the legs eluded me.

You can’t tell from the photos, but that top plank is frickin’ HEAVY, and every time I thought about how tall this table would need to be and how narrow the plank is, I knew four screw-in legs weren’t going to cut it, and I just wasn’t finding the materials or the inspiration for another solution.

Fast forward to this past Saturday, when, browsing at the RE Store, I found four black metal brackets with pre-drilled holes, I have no idea what they were originally used for, but they finally gave me the idea I was looking for. All I needed to do was go back to the lumber shed, pick out some weathered 2″x2″ material, and I was off.

(In all fairness, some credit for this project should go to my wife, as she provided invaluable input, helping me tweak the design for the legs when I got stuck at several points.)

It’s estimated that the total cost of materials for this project was less than $10.

Needless to say, I’m pretty happy with the outcome!


Upcycling: Recycled Bottle Buddhist Temple

Now THIS is upcycling!


Yes, that’s a Buddhist temple in Thailand, constructed using 1.5 million recycled glass bottles.

I know, amazing, isn’t it?!

Via Inhabitat:

The Wat Pa Maha Chedio Kaew temple has found a way to bottle-up Nirvana, literally. The temple, which sits in Thailand’s Sisaket province, roughly 370 miles northeast of Bangkok is made of more than a million recycled glass bottles. True to its nickname, “Wat Lan Kuad” or “Temple of Million Bottles” features glass bottles throughout the premises of the temple, including the crematorium, surrounding shelters, and yes – even the toilets. There’s an estimated 1.5 million recycled bottles built into the temple, and as you might have guessed, they are committed to recycling more. After all, the more bottles they get, the more buildings they are able to construct.

The monks started building this structure in 1984, so that’s a lot of years of accumulated karma!

It’s beautiful, practical, and it helps the planet.

Very cool.

Here are some more photos (quality’s not great, but they still tell the story):