Althea Holden created this turtle shell from ball bearings and a pie tin for the upcoming annual recycled art show. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Althea Holden created this turtle shell from ball bearings and a pie tin for the upcoming annual recycled art show. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Making art out of life’s leftovers

‘C.R.A.P.’ coming back for annual show

Art stores are the usual destination for artists needing supplies.

Not so Whidbey Island.

For its creative crowd, life’s leftovers are loaded with potential.

Thrift stores, antique shops, recycling centers and dumps provide endless material to weld, glue, pound and ground into pieces of re-purposed art.

“There’s just mountains of material to be had,” said Katrina Hude, an accomplished glass artist who has a unique perspective on junk. For seven years, she worked at Island Recycling in Freeland, viewed by many as the source for manna of tossed treasures waiting to be reborn into a second life.

So much silverware. Spoons upon spoons upon spoons.

“Every household gets rid of stuff. Everyone who moves, everyone who dies, it all ends up getting thrown out,” she said. “Even thrift stores would drop things off because they get too full.”

Hude’s collection of discarded spoons and forks are now intriguing works of art with names such as “Provider” and “Feed & Nurture.”

Soon, they’ll be surrounded by other examples of trash turned innovative and quirky at the Creative Recycled Art Projects show, better known as C.R.A.P.

Staged at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley, the show features 11 island artists. Opening reception is 5-7:30 p.m., March 3. The free show is open to the public March 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11.

Many artists, including Hude, say they enjoy the show for its freedom to explore outside their chosen field.

“Most of working on glass is very deliberate and dealing with technical issues,” she said. “This was much more spontaneous work. I’m able to be more immediate.”

In its third year, the show is both a celebration of imagination and a condemnation of America’s wasteful ways.

“For me the artwork is fun,” said Janet Pheifer, who helps organize the show.

“It challenges the viewer to look closer, not just at the composition, but at our disposable way of life. Remember, there is no Planet B.”

Althea Holden, also an artist in the show, became friends with Hude when they both attended Pilchuck Glass School. She’s moving to Whidbey after living 20 years in New Orleans.

“Our culture is increasingly disposable,” she said. “I go to many thrift stores. It’s a lot of fun looking for treasures.”

Holden also drew outside the lines preparing for the show. Instead of glass, she chose metal. She had many stray (and heavy) parts from her metal artist friends.

Peering at her collection of rusted ball bearings, Holden pondered what they could become.

The ridge tops of a tortoise shell, perhaps? Pounding on a reclaimed pie plate provided the base. Soon, a turtle made from trash came to life.

“I have several bins of pieces and parts, and I play with them like a puzzle,” Holden said.

Janet Lewis combined her past career creating costumes for theater with her new woodworking pursuit. Inside her roomy barn studio, Lewis usually creates guitars, ukuleles and fine boxes.

But for the past few weeks, three little ladies have captured her heart and hands.

“I like the character, Titania, from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” Lewis explained. “So I created three different Titanias. One is from Greece, one from the Elizabethan era and one is Victorian.”

First she carved the bodies from scrap using various woods — maple, mahogany and Sappelle — to create different skin tones.

Then, she contemplated how to properly dress them.

“I’m going to make their costumes from crap,” she laughed. “Since she’s the Queen of the Fairies, of course she needs wings.”

Bottle caps form a corset. Second-hand fake flowers and leaves become accent pieces. Thrift store jewelry glued into an old, small machine belt forms butterfly wings.

A tiny crown is shaped from copper scraps.

Maybe gowns from old feed bags?

“I’m still deciding,” she said Monday. “But they’ll be dressed for their debut.”

Other artists showing work are Buffy Cribbs, Alicia Lomne, Liesel Lund, Natalie Olsen, Sarah Primrose, Sara Saltee and Judith Van Arnam.

Janet Lewis, a woodworker, carved three Shakespearean female figures from scrap wood. She’s adorning them with old fake flower petals, bottle caps and jewelry, reused feed bags and coiled wire for curly hair. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Janet Lewis, a woodworker, carved three Shakespearean female figures from scrap wood. She’s adorning them with old fake flower petals, bottle caps and jewelry, reused feed bags and coiled wire for curly hair. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Janet Lewis found many uses for discarded objects, such as this old machine belt adorned with old jewelry to form butterfly wings.

Janet Lewis found many uses for discarded objects, such as this old machine belt adorned with old jewelry to form butterfly wings.

Janet Lewis, who usually makes high-end wooden instruments, has been having fun finding ways to decorate three wooden figures she carved. “It’s been a real freeing process,” Lewis said.

Janet Lewis, who usually makes high-end wooden instruments, has been having fun finding ways to decorate three wooden figures she carved. “It’s been a real freeing process,” Lewis said.

Katrina Hude’s creations from spoons, called “Provision” will be part of the Creative Recycled Art Project show at WICA the next two weekends.

Katrina Hude’s creations from spoons, called “Provision” will be part of the Creative Recycled Art Project show at WICA the next two weekends.

Katrina Hude calls this piece made from old forks and chain links, “Imposter.” Photo provided

Katrina Hude calls this piece made from old forks and chain links, “Imposter.” Photo provided

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