What a Journey

As the manager of the Zero Waste McMinnville Facebook page I see the issues that resonate with people.  I shared a story about a recycled arts festival about 18 months ago and there was some mild interest with maybe 20 likes. Four months later a similar story came to me and when I shared it again, the response was similar. Then a few months later I posted a third story and it went “viral” with over 100 likes.

So, after talking to a friend of mine who has been presenting her work at crafts and art fairs for years and hearing her response (“We should do this here!”) I popped over to a Facebook page for artists and artisans in the Northwest and posted a query. “We’re not planning this yet….I just want to know if any artists out there would participate if we did.”  Within a week I had the names of 60 artists.

So I decided my friend was right and together we got a small working committee together: Aundrea Harris, John “Sam” Houston, and my husband Graham and myself, Beth Rankin. We sat down the first time December 4th and started brainstorming ideas. We met almost weekly for at least 2 hours and each of us had lots of homework assignments.

One task that I took on was to identify more artists to issue direct invitations and not rely on posters and Facebook postings that we wanted artists to apply. In the course of a week, reading through numerous Facebook craft and art show pages and then on to Etsy searching for recycled arts and then on to Instagram, I identified another 90. We visited galleries in the area and got a lot of advice.

We set a response date and we formed a jury to review all the applications. The four of us on the planning committee were reading the applications as they came in, but the outside jury participant had no idea and came to the meeting with ideas of his own in case the work presented did not meet the quality we hoped for. He was blown away.

Participating as a jury member is interesting because you have to analyze  the work that it takes to produce something while suspending your own reaction to the art. That is one reason why there is a committee-to balance that “personal preference” factor.

The other reason the jury is made up of people from different artistic mediums is because the viewpoints of the general public has to be considered. However, as artists who sell to the public, we know there are  people who do not do that kind of work and thereby do not appreciate the effort to use creative ability and accumulated experience to produce the work. Many of us have heard “oh, I could make that” many times.  We also know few people actually take the time to learn and better that craft.  The artists who have built their craft into art are people whose work should be respected.

neckpiece Carla FoxMost people, we know, will be amazed at the offerings that the inaugural McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival will present. The concept of “trash to treasures” interests many, amuses some, but there are still people who are not convinced. For example, when I saw the neckpieces that Carla Fox will be offering, I knew the white one might appeal to a bride. I imagined a less expensive simple white sheath as a dress with this neckpiece as embellishment and believe some bride would feel gorgeous while keeping their dress budget more reasonable. So I contacted about eight wedding consultants. Seven never responded. One was offended I would think her clients would wear garbage. She obviously doesn’t understand and it was not worth the time to educate her with her anger so apparent. I had a festival to organize.

But you understand. You know that we can always increase our own personal sustainable practices. You appreciate learning of ways others reduce what goes to the landfill.

The community has responded in amazing ways. For example, I mentioned to one of the management at Recology that we wanted to put a street banner up over McMinnville’s NE 3rd Street, and he offered to pay for it. street banner bThat freed up money from our marketing budget and when I was contacted by That Oregon Life (in response to our press release) to see if they could help and I told them about Zero Waste McMinnville, they immediately reduced their fee for the services they would provide. Howie Harkema was happy to have us on his community access tv program, Speaking Frankly: and How We Doin?  . Then his camera person offered to come and take video. Other media have responded that they will come as well.

We can see the metrics of some of our advertising so we know we have reached a lot of people. We’re amused and excited by the number of people who have “purchased” free tickets on Eventbrite because we can see that Friday has a strong appeal to many.  When I started posting the artist spotlights on this blog and thereby on Facebook readership on both increased dramatically.  We know we have your attention. LOGO jpeg

My latest nightmare is that there was a traffic jam a la Field of Dreams……..bring it on!

Artist Spotlight: Bryan Parks and Chopstick Art

Some years ago Bryan Parks was living in China. During lunch with a friend he started pondering about how many disposable chopsticks must get thrown out every year. That is when the seed got planted in his head.L2-4Colors - Bryan Parks

Once he returned to Oregon, he made arrangements with nearby Asian restaurants to gather their used disposable chopsticks.  He then sanitizes them, paints or stains them, and finally, handcrafts them into functional products.folding soap wgreen soap - Bryan Parks (1)

Bryan says, “I saw a resource that there was plenty of and was only being used once. Why would you not want to try to re-use a perfectly good material!? ” Check out the folding baskets and more out of recycled bamboo chopsticks. Large red folding basket - Bryan Parks (1)

Bryan Parks and Chopstick Art is at Table #17.

Artist Spotlight: Aundrea Harris and Underwood Estates

Over her life, Aundrea Harris learned her art from a mishmash of experiences and hobbies. Designing came early as a floral designer for the Portland Rose Festival and jewelry designer for one of her first jewelry design companies in the 1980s.  Aundrea’s  passion for art and beauty extended from flowers and beads to incorporate textiles and vintage elements.jewelry

To create beauty from recycled pieces all while reducing trash, is not only a skill, but a passion.  Aundera explains, ” Reclaimed materials are some of the best items to work with. Millions of pounds of fibers and textiles are disposed of daily. We discard damaged clothing when we stain it, so why not utilize the remains and create beauty?bags

“Beauty can be found in just about everything, one must just expand their creative mind! Not only does working with reclaimed materials help eliminate trash on our planet, but it also creates beauty out of something one never would have expected. Beauty is in everything…just look.”more jewels

Aundrea Harris and Underwood Estates is at Table #10.

Artist Spotlight: Jim Tucker and Aspen Wolf Arts

Jim Tucker uses paper pulp made from repurposed brown and white waste paper to construct the various sculptures. “I liked using scrap paper pulp for paper making because it was recycling and just not throwing everything away.  I have recently taught myself to use scrap paper pulp as the sculpture medium just to try something different.  There is a steep learning curve to using paper pulp, but that is also the goal.  To keep learning, experimenting and growing is one of the key, yet fun, aspects of creating art.”0327191158 - Jim Tucker

“My most recent trials are constructing pulp ‘boulders’ to build Inuksuk. Inuksuk are actually constructed by First Nations peoples across the far northern regions of the U.S., Canada and Greenland as landmarks and commemorative signs. From Inuksuks I will soon be expanding my stacked pulp ‘rock’ sculptures to include free-form designs.”0327191200 - Jim Tucker

Jim uses recycled materials because he believes in REDUCING waste.  “Reduce, reuse, recycle – words to live by to make a better world for us and our grandchildren and beyond. Working with reclaimed/recycled materials is very important for reducing our artistic footprint on the world while still creating artistic items of beauty, whimsy and thought.  It is very important to me not to just add to the heap of trash we generate daily.  To create art out of waste materials is just icing on the cake.”0327191156 - Jim Tucker

Jim Tucker and Aspen Wolf Arts is at Table #11.

Artist Spotlight: Bryan Baer and Baer Naked Metals

Running a business as  a heavy equipment repair shop, Bryan Baer started noticing all the interesting parts and things they were chucking in the recycling bin. So, about eight years ago he started collecting those interesting parts and started to  weld, cut,  and grind them into a new life. outdoor duck Bryan Baer

Playing with these loose pieces and making something fun is like playing with Legos to Bryan. He realizes his creations will survive many lifetimes more as a piece of art than the part’s original purpose. 83958D48-E2D8-407C-A34C-12667E98DEAF - Bryan Baer

“We make and sell cute and scary animals and creatures using various recycled and found metals.” 282EF1D2-F8B1-4DF0-93F0-2057A0DB5591 - Bryan Baer

Bryan Baer and Baer Naked Metals are at Table #5.

Artist Spotlight: Tess Mattos and Second Chance Skeins

As a relative newcomer to Oregon and the Willamette Valley, I am still finding my way around the region, learning all the amazing resources it has to offer. As the planning committee for the Recycled Arts Festival starting its effort five months ago, one of the requirements was to introduce me to some of the best scrap resources that exist nearby.

One, located in Portland, is Scrap, an amazing center of donated materials that are sold at great prices.  This store was mentioned by more than one of the artists who will be showing and selling their work at the Festival.  2018-12-30 16.20.28 - Tess Mattos

Tess Mattos enjoys Scrap a lot, and even teaches classes there.  As a volunteer she also offers her expertise with yarn to review all the donated material. Those that have enough length are offered for sale. Those that are not long enough for a knitting project grab her attention.

“I work with reclaimed materials for the variety inherent in them, as well as for the fulfillment of making something useful out of something useless,” Tess explains.
“In each Second Chance Skein, I combine short lengths of at least 20-30 different yarns.  The mixing of so many colors and textures is precisely what makes the end result so fabulous and fun.  So having a wide variety of yarns to work from is essential.  And since I only use a few yards of any given yarn in a skein, it is a perfect way to re-use short amounts of yarns, that are almost useless by themselves.”2018-12-30 16.19.10 - Tess Mattos (1)

Tess can trace her interest in the basic idea — of mixing multiple yarns, colors, and textures in one skein — to expensive commercial versions of “wild” art yarns, at least fifteen years ago.  Over the ensuing years, she developed many different techniques to blend a variety of yarns within a project, such as free-form crochet, or changing yarns on every row or two.  However, it is only within the past year that I pulled together my love of mixing yarns, and my interest in re-use and upcycling, to start making Second Chance Skeins.



Upcycling everyone else’s leftover bits and pieces not only provides the diversity and variety Tess enjoys, but she also finds the effort to take what others throw away, and turn it into beautiful, exciting art yarn extremely satisfying.

Tess Mattos and Second Chance Skeins are at Table #12.