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Treasure out of Trash

I use alcohol inks and polymer clay, often on man-made “paper” in my mixed media work. It worries me that these are not eco-friendly materials so I try to use every scrap I make. I think of it as rescuing and actually it’s one of my favorite things to do. Here are a few of my tactics:

IMPROVE: If I am unhappy with my art piece, I first brainstorm what it is missing or what it has too much of or what will save the composition. I often set it up somewhere in my studio and wander by it for a few days until I have a solution. My guide here is what will please me. I can’t work for anyone else – only myself.

MAKE FIXING A SNAP: I often pull out a piece later that is already framed but I want to add that bit of shocking color or add another flower etc. This happens so frequently that I purposely use frames that can be reopened. In matting I use artist tape that is easily removed.

FIND THE DIAMOND: If I don’t feel the overall piece can be saved I explore it for whether there is a great small section that will make a neat small picture from the ho-hum larger work. It’s amazing how often there is a diamond in that inky rough.

COLLAGE: Before I cut the picture up I may make collage paper by copying or scanning the main picture. That collage sheet will likely be torn in many smaller pieces to get just the right design or color. Those pieces don’t have to stand on their own but will be the perfect addition to a larger composition.

EXPERIMENT: My pictures often have 2 or 3 layers and the leftovers from reducing a picture’s size when cut into the shapes I need are perfect.

While these ideas pertain to those who work on canvas or paper, I’m sure whatever your media, there are ways to conserve that actually will enrichen your work. I’d love to hear and share your ideas. Just email me at

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