Recycled materials

I get a lot of satisfaction from using old things in new ways, whether it is a delightful blue glass bottle planted in the garden, leftovers from the fridge combined to make dinner, or fabrics reused in a contemporary art quilt.

The Front Range Contemporary Quilters ( has a show called Transformation opening on June 1st at the Parker Art Center in Colorado. We were asked to create art using recycled materials. This is what the prospectus said:

Quilters reuse fabrics, giving them new life and purpose. We look at tablecloths, work shirts, blankets, and curtains as wonderful resources. As contemporary artists we also look to a more diverse array of materials that can be transformed: paper, denim, toys, burlap, found objects, plastic, bottle caps, etc. We have even seen band-aids used in a quilt!

Repurposing used materials is a way to lessen the carbon footprint of creating artwork. It can also be a way to honor those artists we borrow from, by bringing new life to beautifully embroidered pillowcases or a much-loved quilt. The medium is the message. Think about what you want to say (story, feeling, commentary) and how the thoughtful selection of recycled materials will give voice to your concept.

I entered four pieces in this show. Here are the two that got in.

Another Time Long Ago is 26 X 30.5 inches. Recycled Materials: I used old work pants, a towel, denim cloth, a sweater, a linen table cloth, and several shirts. Fabrics were fused and raw-edge machine appliqued. There are hand and machine details and quilting. My inspiration for the art was a photograph of my Aunt Louise feeding donkeys in the Sierra Mountains of California.


Another Time Long Ago, NFS

Safe in My Arms is 32.5 X 52 inches. Recycled Materials: I used two plaid shirts and a sweater. (I used the same sweater in Another Time Long Ago.) This piece started out in a vertical orientation but early on insisted on being horizontal! This art explores the idea of Haven. I had been thinking about refugees fleeing a war. I was imagining what a child would need to feel safe. All the fabrics are soft. The applique and quilting were done by hand.

Safe in My Arms, $1,200

I wish you could see these pieces in person, to see the color, detail, and size as they really are. The show will be up from June 1 – to July 27, 2022. There is an artist reception on July 1st as part of First Fridays. Here are a few more examples from the Transformation show.

Emerging by Regina Benson is 10.5 x 13.5 inches at base and 24.5 H. Recycled Materials: It is created entirely from recycled materials, laminated and patterned plastic grocery bags, doll parts, wooden candles sticks and wool blanket as armature. The work is stitched together by hand and machine.

Don’t Stand so Close to Me by Maria Lorenzo Sachs is 12 x12. Recycled Materials: It is mixed media textile collage; cotton, chiffon, netting, felt, printed paper, plastic sheeting, acrylic colors, and free-motion stitching.


Tea Bag Tunic by Barbara Olson is 38 x 24 inches. Recycled Materials: she used tea bags sewn together to form a fabric with which to make a tunic. quotes were written with ink, paint, or stamping with ink. There is batik cotton on the inside. 

Play Me Some Blues by JoAnne Hoffman is 16.5 X 24. Recycled Materials: Approximately 95% old clothes, denim jeans and an old white t-shirt (left wrinkled on purpose). She used right and wrong sides of the fabric to get different shadings. She used the jeans’ buttons, belt loops, zipper pull, pocket rivets and part of a zipper as parts of the guitar. The backing fabric and facing pieces are also reused denim jeans. Some colored pencil was used for a bit of shading. It is all raw edge fused collage.



My recipe for this month really needs to use leftovers! I often have leftover cooked Quinoa and leftover cooked lentils. If you put these two together and add tomato sauce, thawed frozen peas, and some grated cheese, you get a quick meal. Just microwave and serve. The grandkids love it.

2 Responses to Recycled materials


Delicious images!
Just moved a week ago, from Estes down to NIWOT!
All went smoothly, grateful beyond words, for loving
Family help!


Great article Joan, Love to see the creativity in using recycled items.


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