Far Out or Out Too Far? Recycled Objects That Walk the Line


There’s a fine line when it comes to the now ubiquitous trend of recycling. Many objects are born of good intent by sparing castaways from the dreaded garbage heap but can emerge as art or utility assembled with too forced a hand.

Here’s a look at a few newfangled creations that are on the wackier side.

You be the judge: Inventive and funky or kitschy and junkie?

Clearly, the theme is “sewing” in this doll made by Arizona-based Janus Creations that I spotted on Trend Hunter. The artist incorporates recycled tins, paper clay, old block letters and spools of thread to produce her one-of-a-kind caricature sculptures. Would this appeal to savvy collectors of craft or just sentimental womenfolk with a soft spot for all things kooky?


Roll over, Beethoven! Another genius may be at work. Who says when the toilet paper is gone there are no lasting memories to speak of? Yuken Teryua goes out on a limb by affixing the rolls to branches to form intricate, organic artwork (shown at top). If you don’t mind the process, the result can be stunning. I had the same reaction with a tampon installation I once saw at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Vintage irons, motorcycle helmets and seltzer bottles are all seen in a different light when disguised as the shades of Lamponi Lamps, the brainchild of Italian artist Maurizio Lamponi Leopardi. Leave it to a mechanical engineer who studied in high style Milan to figure out how to rewire retro American household gadgets into conversational pieces for the edgy habitat. For me, the jury is still out on these. I’m drawn to the iron but the other collectibles can come as they are, as far as I’m concerned, rather than mounted to shiny chrome.


Donkey told his friend Shrek he was like an onion cause “onions have layers.” He could have said “like a chair” because this one also has layers, wrapped around a cylinder. The Cabbage Chair has been described as peel-till-you-drop furniture. It was designed by Oki Sato of the Japanese Nendo for the XXIst Century Man exhibition curated by Issey Miyake. The assignment was to make furniture out of pleated fabric that is usually tossed out as an unwanted by-product. It has no finishing to speak of, no screws or nails. During a meeting, Miyake described his concept by saying “21st century people don’t just wear clothes, but shed their skin.” But do we really want disposable furniture?


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High five, I Robot, a quirky hand punctured pierced with recycled electronic objects to function as a fridge magnet. The woodcut design is faux-painted with metallic silver acrylic paint by Etsy’s Rabbit Hole Art. It’s a rather complex assemblage for simply tacking up memos, but that’s recycling for you.


Are you dung-ho about using elephant droppings to write letters to loved ones? It’s not that crappy of an idea if you don’t mind the tactile experience of holding a piece of poop paper in your hand. The stationary is created by fair trade workers at the Lampang Elephant Conservation Camp in Thailand. You will be happy to know it is not only 100% recycled but also bacteria and odor free. Dug up at Rainbow Gifts USA, no one can argue that as far as elephant byproducts go, this one sure beats ivory!


Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.