Thursday, 19 March 2009

Thinking Outside of The Box

I am a huge fan of mixed media and try to utilise different items in many of the pieces I create, whether in my textiles or ceramics. I can't help looking at objects and wondering if they might be useful in some future piece or other. Often some strange item can inspire a whole creative train of thought.

Obviously, I look at clothing for fabric and am often found with my scissors in hand chopping a shirt apart. Skirts are great as you usually have quite a large area of useable fabric without too many seams. Old curtains are even better, with velvet ones being a particular favourite of mine. Wool jumpers are also very useful for machine felting. Obviously old buttons can be easily salvaged and put to good use, together with oddments of ribbon and lace. Recently I was given a whole bundle full of men's ties, some of which have already found themselves appliqued onto a bag, with another in the making.

Thinking outside of the box is really important when using mixed media. The principle doesn't just apply the textiles and ceramics I enjoy. All manner of items can be incorporated into jewellery, sculpture, paper crafts and paintings too. You really just have to keep an open mind at all times.

An excellent hunting ground is the local hardware store. I just can't help myself when it comes to metal and wooden curtain rings, different types of wire, copper tubing and metal nuts. Whilst in the hardware store the other day, I discovered they sold various thicknesses and colours of cording. I had been searching craft stores for it to no avail, so you can imagine my delight! Alongside that, I found different types of chain being sold by the metre, presumably for sink plugs and the like. I did get a few odd looks as I was muttering aloud about the fantastic chains that were available and imagining the uses.

A few months back, I was in my local kitchenware shop looking for a spatula. Amongst the cleaning items I came across the run of the mill silver metal scouring pads. However, they also stocked copper ones too. For some reason the copper ones had a beauty and almost organic quality all of their own. I had to buy one! I haven't quite found a use for it yet, but I will.

All manner of natutal items can be useful, shells, pine cones, stones, wood. I have used leaves as templates before for ceramic projects and have just discovered skeleton leaves. They look so fragile but are actually remarkably robust. Obviously they are great for card making projects but I thought I would try and utilise them in a felt piece. I think the resulting vessel was quite successful.

I am not alone in using every day materials, with more and more emphasis being placed on recycling, people are finding new ways to reuse products all the time. Plastic bottles are becoming fleece clothing, tyre rubber becomes shoes, clothing is shredded and used to insulate cars. All around us artisans are using glass found on the beach, broken china and even plastic bags to create new and beautiful pieces.

Hopefully, you will be inspired to experiment a little too.

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