Creative REuse Artist: lookwhatimade

Well, I seem to be running into a great many upcyling jewelers these days.  The amazing thing is that each one is so unique and different.  I love the creativity and “eye for reuse” behind the artwork of lookwhatimade. I mean, who thinks of turning old jacks into earrings?  I LOVE IT!  I am also a huge fan of Tina Fey and might need to get myself some blerg earrings.

The interview follows:

1.  Tell us your story…How did you get to where you are now as an artist?

i always loved to collect things, it is the natural course for the product of two collectors/pack-rat parents.   both ‘organized’ in their ways, as am i; despite what my boyfriend says!
i was raised that you recycle, compost and re-use whenever you possibly can, so i guess it would be foreshadowing that i am now more conscience of it than back then.   i think that there is always an alternative for anything besides the landfills and it kills me when i see what people throw away and what a ‘disposable’ society we as americans (especially) are.
to help pay the bills, i have worked in many restaurants and restauranting gigs and it made me so sick to see how the solution to most things is: “just throw it away.”   out of sight, out of mind right?   wrong!   so i do my part, i may have been known to ‘bully’ others into it as well, in taking responsibility for our planet.   reduce, reuse and recycle.   they taught it to us at such a young age, it’s a wonder to me how it didn’t stick to others as it did me.
in sculpture classes at sfsu, they urged us to bring in odd, old and random things for making projects out of, i also took art for kid classes and they would take ANYTHING for ideas of things to do with kids.   it was then that i learned of SCRAP in san francisco, if you have never heard of it, you have to check it out! anything i am getting rid of gets the scrap screening, what a place!   along with the many bins of random STUFF that i have schlepped around through various moves, i finally found my niche!   and old things just started becoming new things and life was good!   i also love to go to swap meets, antique stores and second hand stores.   thanks mum!
it was my parents and places like those that have helped me get to the point in my art that i am at now.   and of course actually giving a damn, compared to back in the day when it was a chore and not a passion and challenge of ‘how can i save this from the landfill?’

2.  Why do you reuse material?

i love giving old things new life.   i love the fact that we throw one bag of garbage away about every week/week and a half.   that we compost and i cut up all of our paper recycling packaging into business card sizes and am getting a custom made stamp so i can make my own business cards instead of order ones.   i love the reaction that my items get from (most) people when they find out that it is from recycled, vintage or used items.   it is catching on, just slowly and very demographically.   us on the west coast seem to be more into it that those back home in the midwest or on the east coast and down south.   a lot of them just don’t care, don’t recycle, or compost.   a lot of places don’t even offer recycling to people, how is that!?  how could you conscientiously throw away a recyclable item into the garbage!?   it baffles me and makes me want to double my efforts to make up for them.
it is also exciting (and super frustrating!) when you go on a hunt for something second/third or whatnot-hand and find it!   the thrill of the chase and hunt, everything is held in a more satisfying light and you are even more proud of your creations.

3.  How do you come up with ideas for creative reuse?

some of them just “speak to me” and others are morphed from some 6degrees of it’s original idea.   for example, in sculpture class, i was needing a good project, had a BUNCH of the fortunes from fortune cookies and a fair amount of corks from, well the bottles of wine we enjoy.   and i was thinking of what to make and all of a sudden: POOF! it came to me; a cork tree with fortunes for the leaves!   (photo #1)   so i began cutting out random fabric leaves, epoxied the fortunes and stuck them into old wire hanger branches.   (just an unfolded wire hanger with whole corks pierced through it.   the leaves had floral wire hand threaded through them so they could stick into the branches)   the trunk of the tree was made by cutting corks in half (whew!) and affixing them onto a recycled drop clothe.   and viola!  CAUTION: falling fortunes was bourne.    only while in the making of the trunk, i was laying and walking on the cut corks and said to brian (my boyfriend) ‘wow!  this is SUPER comfy to walk on!   it would make a cool floor mat…   and there you have the birth of the cork mats!   things like that are how i get to my spot i am in now!   it is fun and crazy the things that come out.

4.  What is your favorite piece you have ever made?

my favorite piece…   hmmmm, in terms of function, i would have to say my pick me series.   they are actual playing guitar picks made of recycled metals and sterling silver, cut into my rendition of a pick.   then they are hand stamped with the pun: ‘pick me’ on them.   i LOVE puns, it is a family trait that i am most proud of i think.  between myself, my family, brian and his family, i lead a very punny life!
followed closely by the cork mats; they are SO comfortable!!!!
as for aesthetic, i would have to go with the cork tree!   i am often amazed that i made it due to it’s size.   that photo does no justice!   it was on display at a flower shoppe at pier 3, before they closed.   i am told it brought in a lot of business.   or on-lookers at least!
that’s a tough question, i actually like all of my works….   but that’s the top 3!

5.  What advice do you have for anyone interested in creatively reusing something?

GO FOR IT!!!!   let your imagination run wild, just start putting things together and see what happens!   challenge yourself to use only one or two new materials…  it’s hard!  (ie: silver, epoxy, etc)

6.  What inspires your work?

hhhmmmm, nature.   the flow of things, beauty of the great outdoors, shapes, my loved ones, my mood!, how things fall and the nature of the piece.

7.  Any favorite artists?

anyone who makes an effort to reuse items, refurbish things and are against needless throwing away of stuff.

8.  Where do you want to be in 5 years as an artist?

5 years….   running my own successful business out of my garage studio on our acreage of beautiful california land.   to be known well enough to have a following that allows me to concentrate on my creations and what it is that i will be working on at that point in my career.   hopefully larger items, and more ceramics and welding -in a green manner of course and not necessarily together, but ‘who nose’!   i miss working big, it requires a lot of space and ventilation!
all i really want is for people to catch onto the whole reusing notion and seek out items that are made in that way.   and not choose to go to target or wherever because they are saving a few bucks.   artists need to get paid for their work as well as ideas and making them a reality.   i want the “starving” to be taken out of my “artist” label!

See more from lookwhatimade at the following sites:

check out my shoppe on cosa verde:
and follow a link to or checkout my etsy shoppe at:
follow me on facebook:
and twitter:
and flickr:
read/comment on my blog:


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