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Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

More Trash into Treasures


I admit it, I am a trashy art lover! No, not soft porn, or sexy comic-book art, but art that utilizes the graphic excitement of commercial packaging and found objects. With these imaginative concoctions, that which is usually thrown away gets a second life  worthy of our highest regard. Not to mention that each one is a treasure of entertaining pleasure.

Eileen Neill commented to my last blog post: “I too make art quilts from trash. there is a particular brand of potato chips (Miss Vickie’s) here in Canada that has a really nice bag. I have made many small wall quilts using these bags. I commission my grandchildren to eat the chips for me.”


Miss Vickie’s, by Eileen Neill

Fun! And makes me want to hit the pantry for some crunchy munchies myself!

I’ve shared in a previous blog how Amy Orr uses cut-up credit cards in her art. Get a load of another masterpiece with a diversity of discarded “gems.”

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Alphabet Quilt, by Amy Orr
Crack vials, action figures, miscellaneous plastic and metal fragments, Publishers Clearing House stamps and glass beads, hand-stitched onto velvet
41″ x 32″

Doncha LOVE it? Amy’s use of unusual trash and found objects always provide an underlying, almost subversive dimension to her collage fiber art. So, although you’re looking at a textural icon recalling a joyful classic juvenile quilt style, Amy is also commenting about the dark, dangerous horrors all too prevalent in the environment or future of a child living in urban poverty.


Ellen Saul, one of the  Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia now exhibiting in Upscaling: Trash into Treasures, used a stained, vintage hanky and vegetable bags, among other things, to make her little masterpiece, My Way, below. Excuse the glare from the glass, and like all these pieces, you just have to see them in the cloth! And, her other little hanky-pankies, on her website.


Another member of this esteemed group of artists bound together by their talent for taking trash to the max is Ellen Benson. With the understanding that art quilts are one step away from more 3-D forms of mixed media, you’re bound to fall under the spell of Ellen’s talismans (talismen? taliswomen?).

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In the event you need an extra reason to covet them, Ellen makes a variety of weathered, ancient-looking labels available, so you get to choose the figure you want, plus the nightmare you wish to ward off. I seem to need the one that says Amulet to protect me from my computer going down….Talisman to prevent cellulite…or to ward off loud cell-phone users. You might prefer  Protection from overwhelming urges to go shopping–although I think there’s only good karma in purchasing from Ellen or other artists at dumpsterdivers.org.

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Finally, let me share the work of one more Dumpster Diver in this show–soon to close at the Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, PA: a new and wonderful friend whose work was recently exhibited at the esteemed Snyderman-Works Gallery here in Philly: Linda Lou Horn.


Linda Lou Horn

These “Ladies” are:

“Lit Up for You,” created with a parts of a lamp and other electrical components

Slinky Sally Shimmers, created with chair parts and part of a broom

Dart of My Heart, with a brush, doll shoes, and one found object that makes it an irresistible target for adoption.

If you like treasures from trash, green quilts, mixed media from found objects, please   comment below, share your work with me at elevie@comcast.net…

… and stay tuned for more adventurous art!

2 Responses to “More Trash into Treasures”

  1. Sam says:

    Love it! Is there an easy way to source fabric from clothes that don’t sell either at retail outlets or thrift shops? Any tips for finding good dumpsters for crafting?

  2. What you want to find for fabric that isn’t sold at retail outlets or thrift shops are stores that collect and sell rags. Generally, these rags are the ones that are used to weave rag rugs, and they are also used for other household uses (which is why they are collected). You can generally buy the stuff by the pound. Also, some larger thrift stores (not all locations) have a “by the pound” area where you can buy a lot of things very cheaply. I have found things thrown away and have gone after them in dumpsters in my mobile home park. Sometimes in some apartments and mobile home parks, there are tables where people can (and do) leave things for others to take. Anyway, you can check google for good resources for rags in your area and if not, there may be places where you can get them cheaply. I also use (as Eleanor does) things from my own home that would be thrown out. The bags cat and dog food come in are often a very nice, heavy plasticized paper and it can be cut and sewn. There are all sorts of things that generally get thrown away that you can use.

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