Landfill vs. The Art of Creative Reuse

A few years ago, we were holding an "Arty Party" in our Seattle Art Camp for Big Kids studio. If you remember the studio that was in the Greenwood neighborhood, you'll remember that we had it stuffed with stuff...a wild mix of ephemera, fabrics, papers, knick-knacks, and art supplies purchased by the heapful from local thrift shops (Lori was starting to get recognized by name on the Seattle thrift circuit--true story!). 

That night, an event participant told us that she worked for an architectural firm in Seattle and that they had HEAPS of scrap materials ranging from fabric samples to tiles to wood blocks to leather swatches. We answered her faster than she could even ask "Do you want them?" A few days later, Lori drove down to the loading dock and packed her car with anything that would fit. 

What was found inside of the mystery boxes? Well, let's just say that upon opening each box, you could hear squeak after excited squeak. Think of high-end glass blocks, fine papers, yarns, beautiful tiles, silks, textured leathers, wool fabrics, and a cache of interior space planning finery, albeit in miniature. From that first batch alone, we estimate that attendees have made over 300 art projects...from silly to  functional to pretty. And it was all destined for the rubbish very little of these types of materials can be recycled and they are not suitable for resale. 

Thus, our ongoing "Creative Reuse Challenge" was born and we feature it at most of our art-making and crafting events. 


Above: Our very first "Creative Reuse Challenge" debuted at the 2012 Seattle Mini Maker Faire. 

By Fall 2012 we were introduced to the folks at Zero Landfill. They have expanded on this donation concept and work with architecture companies, interior designers, and anyone who cycles through samples on a regular basis. They spend the year collecting supplies and then give it away to the public FOR FREE. Multiply that across the nation and you can only imagine the piles of sample goods that get thrown into landfills every with a fancy new reuse mission. 

Lori attended their Seattle Zero Landfill event solo last year and was in for a shock. Just 10th in line and armed with three small bags for the loot, she was ill prepared for what was to come. Materials, like those mentioned earlier in this post, were free for the taking in a room full of like-minded Creatives (you know who you are, Seattle!)...gorgeous stuff, first come, first served. 

From here, Lori was able to fill twelve more boxes of materials (the volunteers were SUPER helpful, even in the chaos) and that haul became the basis of creative reuse supplies at our Art Camp for Big Kids 2012 Fall Art Retreat on Orcas Island. Below are just a few images of creative projects that were made from these samples. 


Before: Suede swatches on the ring. 

After: Jenni models her stylish new suede scarf!


Art collage mobile made from plastic tile samples, glass blocks, and magazine clippings. 


Hair band made from lace scrap, ribbon, and hand-crafted zipper rosettes. 


Prepping a fabric flag from fashion-industry women's blouse "parts."


Garland crafted from T-shirt material swatches. 

This year, we're coming armed with a team...the stuff is really that good, and it's a step in the right direction for reducing our footprint as artists, designers, crafters, and makers. 

Event Details:

ZeroLandfill Seattle
Miller Community Center
Material Pick Up for public
Saturday, Sept. 28th, 11am - 6pm
Sunday, Sept. 29th, 10am - 1pm