Tag Archives: trash

Utilize Part 1

via flickr

Elissa and I have been working on a project for the last few weeks we’re just wrapping up now. We’re calling the project Utilize. Since I’m about to sum up the past 15 or so weeks, I’m going to have to do this in installments.

We were inspired by Kudzu, which is an invasive plant. It was brought to the US in 1876 to the Centennial Exposition at erosion cover and livestock fodder. In the 30’s it was being subsidized by the government, and planted all over. By the 70’s Kudzu had grown out of control and finally in 1997 put on the Noxious Weed list by Congress. So, needless to say, Kudzu is crazy and smothers anything in its path. It’s super prevalent in the South due to a “perfect storm” of growing conditions, no natural enemies and negligence. Kudzu requires constant harvesting to control its rapid spread.

However, Kudzu is a super awesome, beneficial plant too. Its edible (full of nutrients – something like 24% protein) and has uses medicinally. It can be processed into an ethanol, paper and even a fiber for weaving (which is why we love it). Kimonos in ancient Japan before they found Silk worms, were made of Kudzu.

We found this great book that has sort of been our bible for this project. Sadly its out of print but available on google books.

Any way, Liss and I found some really great people in the South to collaborate with and/or advise, befriend, inform, help, etc. us. Thanks to conversations with Crop Mob, Kudzu Kollege, Elsewhere Collaborative, Jay Gamble, Alix Bowman and her Goat Patrol ,Junco Sato Pollack (Kudzu/Fiber artist) and other various community organizations we met along the way, we have forged on to create something we’re both really happy with and can really apply and adapt to any invasive plant.

In a time of depleting natural resources, there are many under utilized and unwanted resources. By collaborating with available communities to utilize abundant “waste” materials (Kudzu in this case), we can help control devastating invasive plants while building a healthier relationship for the community and its local fauna.

We worked along side sustainable eradicators (controlling without chemicals) in North Carolina to eradicate and harvest the vine. We did this on Jay’s land, practicing surgical root crown removal. Strategic grazing would probably work just fine too. Basically, land is fenced off and goats roam and eat up the Kudzu to kill it. The last thing they go after is the vine itself which is the piece we need to make the fiber. If processed correctly, the length of the vine is the length of the fibers you get out of it. This is all I can handle right now. Stay tuned.

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Magic Isaiah Zagar

carriekues flickr stream
If you’ve ever been in Philly you have undoubtedly seen the work of Isiah Zagar (pictured above). His murals are featured all over the city, especially on South Street where his main studio, museum and wife’s gallery are. His work is made of trash picked items, items he’s given and paints over and tiles he makes himself. One of his son’s made a movie about him recently which had been traveling around the country, shown on HBO last night and will be available on DVD next month.

Anyway, Isaiah is a close friend of Warren Muller, the light sculptor/co-owner of bahdeebahdu. Warren liked the work I did on the silverware screens (which have finally been installed) and introduced me to Isaiah. Now I’m his “little helper.” When I have free days I help him with his studio needs; clean, cut tile/mirrors, mix cement, etc. We’ve been having some fun. He’s a very interesting guy with a lot of interesting things on his mind. I snapped these photos the other day while I was making some tiles.

Making Tiles 1Making Tiles 2Making Tiles 3Making Tiles 4Making Tiles 5Glazed and Fired "finished" Tile

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Unnecessary Waste

"December 2005" A. Lawrence

I was reading this article about Texas based artist Annette Lawrence‘s recent show at Flatbed Press in Austin. Lawrence collected all her junk mail for a year and neatly displays it for all to see. It’s disturbing to say the least about the amount of paper wasted on just one person.

I keep thinking about how much more paper is wasted on each American household per year. I’m even more afraid how many more people don’t recycle. Tons and tons of unnecessary waste piling up in already overcrowded landfills. Landfills were meant to decompose waste put into them and instead end up preserving what is no longer desired.

Lawrence’s art brought to mind Ari Derfel, the man who collected, stored and organized his trash for a year. His blog, though not updated for a year, answers questions about his experiment and offers tips on using less. I like that both of them are attracting publicity to these problems of over consumption.

If you want off junk mailing lists you can sign a petition here.

Ari Derfel with his trash

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