Last week on the front page of Etsy, I noticed a picture frame that looked like something my mother would of brought home. Although, I have nightmares about my mother's hoarding, I decided to click on the picture anyway. Immediately, I was transported into my mother's mind. The shop I entered, reArt, was filled with all the ideas my mother has ever had but never brought to fruition. After looking through reArt's shop, I could only imagine the cool things I would of had if only my mother made something out of her junk collection.
Totally intrigued by the idea of turning junk into treasure (and with hopes of gaining a better understanding of junk collecting), I decided to ask artist Amey Radcliffe about her work.
How would you describe your shop/business?
My shop features some of the art I have been making out of recycled things. I love finding and gathering overlooked and discarded things and seeing how they come together into some new.
What inspired you to start making art from found odds and ends?
There have been several inspirations. Most simply, the fruits of my pack-rat nature have reached something of a critical mass, and making art out of them is a great way to let them go! I find old, rusty, weathered and worn things beautiful, and something useful or beautiful should not be discarded. That's an idea that is dear to my heart and has been with me since I can remember. Perhaps it comes from my depression-era parents who learned to "make do" with what they had. That included fixing up old things so that they could continue to be useful. I have small wall shelf, that my dad made as a young man, out of the wood from old fruit crates.
How long have you been making recycled art for?
I have been making things out of old odds and ends for a while, but just a piece here or there. Then in June, I paired down to a 3-day week at my graphic design business so that I could spend more time making art. Since then I have been making art in earnest. My first foray into selling was at a craft festival in a small city near where I live.
How do your get your materials?
Mainly, I find things or friends give me things they know I will like. I find items at the dump or at a garage sale or just come across them on the waterfront or on the street. I always have my eyes out for something interesting that no one wants. Parts and pieces of things can be found free or cheap because they've lost the pieces they go along with.
How often do you find pick something up off the street to use in your art?
Do you have any funny stories you can tell about collecting found goods?
It's sporadic. Sometimes I will find several things on the ground around the same time and then some time may go by before I find something again. I often find things travelling - I go to an island in Maine once a year, and interesting things get washed up on the rocky beach there. Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel in Crete. My backpack grew heavy from some of the rusty metal things I found while walking the streets and beaches. The wire and heart picture frame in my Etsy shop features a piece of rusty wire that was formed into a heart. I found it just like that and I was thrilled by it.
Something funny is that in the 90's when I was in a period of a lot of introspection, I kept finding those small plastic sandbox shovels. I took them to represent the personal "digging" I was doing at the time.
What are your favorite materials?
My favorite materials are weathered wood, rusty metal and tangled wire. I also love anything with numbers or letters on them. That must be a graphic designer thing.
Are your items available anywhere other than Etsy?
Other than when I participate in a local show, no, not at this time. My goal is to expand my Etsy shop into different kinds of things with the same recycled theme. The yoga mat bags are relatively new. I have lots of ideas for work on paper too.
Artist's Name: Amey Radcliffe
Business/Shop Name: ReArt
Etsy URL: reart.etsy.com