Posts tagged
with recycling


Ann Weber Elevates Discarded Cardboard Boxes and Staples to New Heights in Billowing Sculptures

January 12, 2023

Kate Mothes

An abstract sculpture made out of discarded cardboard.

“You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows” (2020), cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 101 x 44 x 20 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano

Exemplifying the possibilities of combining humble materials with a good dose of resourcefulness, Ann Weber’s monumental sculptures find their beginnings in discarded cardboard boxes. The San Pedro, California-based artist parlayed her training in ceramics into a focus on the everyday material, initially inspired by architect Frank Gehry’s cardboard chairs, which transformed utilitarian, heavyweight paper into structurally sound and visually appealing functional objects. Weber echoed a similar intention when she decided to eliminate the inherently cumbersome process and weight of clay in exchange for a lightweight material that could be scaled up.

The artist scours the neighborhoods of Los Angeles for boxes, paying special attention to those with printed surfaces; she carefully considers the colors of graphics and text and incorporates them into the overall composition of each work. In the studio, she begins by building an armature with larger pieces of cardboard to create the silhouette. She then applies layers of strips cut from other boxes and staples them into place in a repetitive, textured pattern.

While the forms billow, bulge, and tower overhead, the artist doesn’t want to obscure the ubiquitous material; instead, Weber invites the viewer to consider the substance in a way they might not otherwise, saying “cardboard has taken on more complex meaning in the 21st century with the hyper-capitalistic proliferation of excess shipping materials.” Paper accounts for more than a quarter of the waste in landfills globally. “The sculptures can be viewed as a critique of contemporary consumerist culture, but that is not my sole intent,” she continues. “They are instilled with a psychological component neither entirely representational nor abstract, but something in between.”

Weber recently wrapped up a major exhibition at Wönzimer Gallery in Los Angeles. Explore more of her work on Instagram and her website.


An abstract sculpture made out of discarded cardboard.

“You’re My Butterfly” (2012), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 88 x 30 x 20 inches and 88 x 36 x 23 inches. Photo by Sibila Savage

Abstract sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.

Left: The artist’s studio. Right: “Almost 16 & 15 and 1/2” (2002), found cardboard, staples, polyurethane, and steel base, 182 x 48 x 49 inches and 177 x 38 x 38 inches. Photo by M. Lee Fatherree

A series of abstract sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.

“Gothic on Grand” (2018), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 98 x 166 x 14 inches. Photo by Ray Carafano

An abstract wall sculpture made out of discarded cardboard.

“Happiest Days of Our Lives” (2018), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 96 x 124 x 10 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano

An abstract sculpture on a plinth made out of discarded cardboard.

“Hallelujah” (2016), found cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 30 x 46 x 10 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano   

An abstract sculpture with yellow stripes made out of discarded cardboard.

“Pedro Boogie Woogie” (2019), cardboard, staples, and polyurethane, 104 x 48 x 28 inches. Photo by Ray Carofano

An installation view in a gallery space of abstract sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.

Installation view at Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco (2012). Photo by Sibila Savage

Ann Weber, artist, standing with a series of abstract, white sculptures made out of discarded cardboard.





Discarded Scallop Shells Combine with Recycled Plastics in the Waste-Reducing ‘Shellmet’

January 12, 2023

Kate Mothes

A shell-shaped helmet made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

All images © Quantum and TBWA\Hakuhodo

The village of Sarufutsu in Hokkaido, Japan, is known for bringing in some of the country’s biggest hauls of scallops. Unfortunately, when the bivalves are processed for the food industry, they generate about 40,000 tons of discarded shells annually. The village teamed up with product design startup Quantum and plastics manufacturer Koushi to tackle the ever-mounting quantities in local landfills. Along came Hotamet—a portmanteau of “hotate” (which means scallop) and “helmet”—alternatively known as Shellmet. The marine-inspired, eco-friendly safety accessory incorporates discarded, crushed scallop shells into a protective covering.

A main component of seashells is calcium carbonate, a compound also found in hard materials like eggshells, pearls, and some rocks and minerals. Combined with recycled plastic, the substance produces a tough material that Quantum and Koushi could form into headgear. “Based on the idea of biomimicry, Shellmet incorporates a special rib structure in its design that mimics the structure of scallops, which are part of the material. As a result, we have achieved a strength approximately 33 percent greater than normal,” Quantum says.

Originally designed as a protective hat for the fishing community, Shellmet will also come in handy when Japan mandates that all bicyclists must wear protective headgear starting in April this year. You can find more information on the company’s website. (via Spoon & Tamago)


A row of shell-shaped helmets made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

A collection of shell-shaped helmets made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells, photographed on a beach.

A mound of scallop shells.

A detail of a shell-shaped helmet made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

A shell-shaped helmet made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

A group of three fishermen wearing shell-shaped helmets made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.



Art Craft

Balloon-Like Sculptures Reimagine Blown Glass in Matthew Szösz’s ‘Inflatables’ Series

November 17, 2022

Kate Mothes

A glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 33.” All images © Matthew Szösz, shared with permission

The art of blown glass takes on new meaning in Matthew Szösz’s Inflatables series. About 15 years ago, the artist was interested in challenging assumptions about how the material could be worked and what form it could take. “In the craft and design field, the way that we make things has a profound effect on what we make,” he tells Colossal. “Blown glass and thrown pots are round; houses and furniture are rectangular. I spend a good portion of my time experimenting with process to try and use a new way of making to create new families of objects and forms.” The resulting sculptures capture a playful tension between fragility and strength, ephemerality and durability.

Using glass panes or sheets from salvaged windows, Szösz carefully plans the shape of the final form and cuts numerous pieces that are measured to slightly overlap so that when fused together, they create tight seams. Ceramic fiber paper separates the layers to prevent the material from sticking to both the kiln and itself. At 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the piece is swiftly removed from the kiln and inflated, balloon-like with compressed air. The glass is malleable for only about a minute at most before it cools to a hard object. “There is very little shaping that can be done during the inflation, so the process relies entirely on the preparation of the material,” Szösz explains. “Once you pull it out to inflate it, what you get is what you get.”

Szösz’s work with sheet glass take numerous forms, and his sculptures are currently on view in two exhibitions at BWA Wrócław Galleries of Contemporary Art, including a solo show titled Gold Standard, and the group exhibition Autonomous Zones, a collaboration with Pilchuck Glass School. You can follow more of the artist’s work on Instagram and his website.


A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 95r”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.


A glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 71a”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 93irk”

Blown glass sculptures by Matthew Szösz that resembles unusual balloons.

Left: “untitled(inflatable)no. 87.” Right: “untitled(inflatable)no. 75g”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 90ir”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 85b”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“untitled(inflatable)no. 91irb”

A blown glass sculpture by Matthew Szösz that resembles an unusual balloon.

“”untitled(inflatable)no. 89g”



Art Craft

Expressive Wildlife Portraits are Captured in Elegant Scrap Metal Sculptures by Leah Jeffery

October 26, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images shared with permission © Leah Jeffery. Photographs by Katie Jeffery

When it comes to scrap metal, Hogansville, Georgia-based artist Leah Jeffery has honed an instinct for transforming old bike parts, cutlery, and offcuts into a captivating menagerie of expressive animals. During her senior year of high school, she began exploring different trades, and after signing up for a welding class, discovered a natural skill with metalworking. She became interested in re-using discarded materials, and her first project was a great horned owl, which spurred an ongoing series portraying an array of wildlife.

Now working as Bruised Reed Studio, her practice centers around the proverbial turning of trash into treasure. “There is something about taking what was discarded and giving it new life,” she says. “I use any scrap metal I can find—mostly old bicycle parts and flatware, or people will give me their random metal junk.” Each sculpture is one-of-a-kind, formed from in a wide variety of textures, densities, and patinas to expressively capture an eagle’s intense gaze, a butterfly’s wings, or a sloth’s lazy grin.

You can follow Bruised Reed Studio on Instagram, and find more work on her website.





One of the Largest Louisiana Glass Recyclers Was Founded by College Students Who Are Rebuilding a Vanishing Coastline

October 11, 2022

Grace Ebert

The Louisiana coastline has undergone significant erosion in the last century, and one method of restoration involves rebuilding landforms and protecting areas with sand. Unfortunately, the world is simultaneously experiencing a massive shortage of the material—it’s the most-extracted and second most-used resource in the world—so it’s essential to find new, innovative methods of procuring the substance.

Glass Half Full, one of the largest recyclers of the material in Louisiana, is working toward this goal by turning bottles and other waste back into their original, granular form. On a visit from Business Insider, Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz, who co-founded the organization while in college, tour the facility that already processes an astounding 16 metric tons of glass per week. The substance is crushed and sorted into gravel-sized chunks, a fine powdery material, and a coarse grind, the latter of which is shipped to wetlands and habitats for use in restoration efforts. Thanks to a National Science Foundation, Glass Half Full even collaborated with Tulane University scientists to ensure that the reused material doesn’t leach harmful chemicals into the water and can sustain plant life.

Since launching in 2020, the organization has recycled more than two million pounds of waste, and you can find more about its work on its site. (via The Kids Should See This)


Restoration efforts with bags of recycled sand

Gravel-like material

Franziska Trautmann at the Glass Half Full facility

Super fine sand




Recycled Building Materials Construct a Multi-Purpose Zero Waste Center in Japan

November 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Hiroshi Nakamura

Back in 2003, Kamikatsu, a town in Tokushima Prefecture, became Japan’s first municipality to go zero waste, establishing a whopping 45 categories for recycling. Today, the village reuses about 80 percent of the garbage it generates, and the Kamikatsu Zero Waste Center is at the forefront of the community’s charge to become entirely trash-free in the coming years.

Designed by the architect Hiroshi Nakamura (previously), the recycling facility is comprised mostly of upcycled materials, including a mishmash of 700 donated windows cloaking its facade. Unprocessed timber and trimmings—cedar logging once was one of Kamikatsu’s main industries—structures the building and forms tresses designed to be disassembled and reused. A terrazzo flooring made of glass and ceramic shards runs through the center, and a bookshelf made of bright blue storage containers from a nearby shitake farm covers an entire wall.


The curved facility features a central drive-through area for dropping off unwanted materials and houses offices, a community hall, and a shop where residents can bring items they no longer use and others can take them home for free. On the other end of the building is a four-room hotel that’s decorated with wallpaper made of old newsprint, and Nakamura stamped “Why?” on the pages to prompt questions about consumerism. He elaborates:

Not bringing things in from outside the region is the first step in reducing wasteful packaging, transportation costs and fuel. When designing, I often go to not only the old garbage station but also the abandoned house in the town, the old government building before dismantling, the abandoned junior high school, etc… Materials used for the building are those that consider garbage as a resource and utilize it.

For more architectural projects from Nakamura and his Tokyo-based studio, check out his site. (via Dezeen)