RecycleBinI love to fill up my recycling bin with cardboard, bottles, cans, plastic and even metal coat hangers.  It always makes me feel good – like I am doing my part to help save the environment.  Lately I’ve even taken to washing out items like hummus containers before tossing them in the bin.

But I never really thought about using recycled materials, or should I say re-purposed materials in my nature art until Professor Young Song at Lesley University asked me if I could.  You see I’ve been asked to lead a chime-making workshop in one of her graduate Eco-Art classes this summer and during our planning meeting she asked me if I could find and re-use pipes for the chimes instead of buying new aluminum pipes, which is what I usually do.

That question caused me to look around at my junk and my friend’s junk to see what I could use.  But before we go down that road let’s level set a bit.  What does it mean to recycle?  Google tells us that to recycle is to convert (waste) into reusable material.  Yes, that is what I want to do.  I want to take junk and transform it into material that can be reused.  Right.  That describes what I want to do.

But wait. Google also tells us that to re-purpose is to adapt for use in a different purpose.  Ah ha. Now that is more accurate.  I want to take materials that were designed for one function and transform them into art.  But not just any materials though, I want to take materials that have outlived their usefulness, otherwise known as junk.

So that is actually what I want to do.   I want to convert junk into reusable material and transform that material into art.  It’s a 3 step process: acquire, recycle and re-purpose.

My friend, Joyce has a garage that was an excellent source for junk or should I say, potential art-making materials.  From her garage, I harvested a broken beach chair, a discarded shower curtain rod, a broken kayak carrier, an aluminum mop handle and some other great stuff.  I found some items in my shed as well including a few random pipes, a bent flagpole and another broken beach chair.  The great thing about all this junk is that much of it was destined for the trash bin, but now it gets to live on…indefinitely as a piece of art.

PipeCutterAcquire: So the first step is acquiring the junk, which as you can see from the list above, I got a good start on.

Recycle: The second step is to prepare the junk, converting it to something that is usable.  For this I used my new favorite tool, the pipe cutter, to cut the pipes to length. I then drilled holes in one end of the pipe and used a file to sand off the rough edges from the cutting and drilling.

Re-purpose: The third and final step will be to suspend the pipes from the cross piece, essentially transforming the broken chairs, and shower rods into art.  We will actually do this last step during the workshops I will be holding, but the photo below gives you an idea of what the prepared, re-purposed pipes will look like once they are suspended from the cross piece to make the finished nature chime.