Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Recycled art: brought to you by STARBUCKS

One summer while I was still in high school I worked part-time as a barista at the newly opened Starbucks in the local mall. I lived in a pretty rural community so although Starbucks offered a new and exciting alternative to the usual Dunkin' Donuts or McDonald's coffee options, business was often slow. Most of my shifts occurred during weekdays, which proved to be a very slow time for business. Although I was visited by the occasional hoarde of middle school kids freed from the shackles of Algebra and Social Studies and eager to spend their allowance on Venti mint chocolate frappuccinos, most of my shifts I spent sitting behind the counter idly waiting to replace the containers of iced and hot coffee every 4 hours.

It didn't take me long to start devising new ways of keeping myself entertained. I started off making small doodles and drawing designs on the back of receipts. But by the end of the summer, I had created two pretty cool looking art pieces made out of materials that we had laying around. The first piece I made started from being bored one day and cutting patterns out of the small paper bags we use when serving cookies or pastries to customers. I got the idea from cutting out snowflake designs from paper for Christmas or other winter festivities. I created the large middle one first then decided to create eight smaller ones to encircle it. Then I placed my paper "flower" pieces on one of the large coffee filters we used, which I cut a rough eight-sided flower-like shape out of. Then to ensure that my new creation would not get wrecked, I covered the front in strips of clear packing tape as a sort of makeshift lamination. I was very pleased with the result:


The next piece I made I started while on the job, and finished at home. Some times I would idly play with the coffee stirrers as we had an abundance of them at Starbucks. I thought how cool it would be to make a paper  fan out of them and coffee filters. So I began designing the layout of my coffee filter/stirrer fan, always undercover so as to not make it seem like I was slacking off on the job. We had a few informational pamphlets given to new employees explaining the different type of tea Starbucks sold, and it the pamphlet were photos of the tea plants themselves. I cut these pictures out as well as small snippets of colors and patterns from the pamphlet and put them aside to use later for decoration.

Although I originally wanted the fan to be a functional piece that could open and close, I found that the coffee filters were too cloth-like and would not hold a fold very well, and the materials I was using to decorate the fan made it very stiff and hard to fold. So after taking all of my raw materials home from work, I assembled my fan as more of a decorative piece. I used simple Elmer's Glue to bond the coffee stirrers together with the coffee filters and the materials from the tea pamphlets. Then I cut the tea leaf pictures and the other colored paper into various small circles, arranged them onto the fan and glued them into place. Then using some paint I had left over from a "Paint-by-Numbers" lying around, I added more color and detail to the fan. For a finishing touch I fixed a hole through the bottoms of the coffee stirrers, threaded a small length of string through the hole and added some odd beads I had left over from a necklace I had previously made. Again out of some disposable objects, left over materials, and sheer boredom at work I managed to create a cool art piece that I really enjoy:


My career at Starbucks only lasted that one summer, but these two art pieces have been hung on the walls of all the dorm rooms, and apartments I have lived in since then, and I hope to keep them forever. I think that creating things yourself allows you have a much deeper connection with that object. Instead of buying something similar to these two decorations, the fact that I made them means that they are unique, one of a kind pieces of art.

22 comments:

  1. You have a real talent for this, a lot of people find hobbies in strange ways and i guess working in a Starbucks is one of them :) Best of luck with it.

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  2. Nice fan! Did you try some decoupage with materials from Starbucks?

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  3. Decoupage would have been a great idea, but I think I finished that fan right around the end of August so then it was off to college. But I'll have to consider it for future project ideas. Thanks for the add!

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  4. I would buy the fan any say of the week.

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  5. That fan is great. You should really sell them. Find a local craft show or something. The coffee filters make it even more buyable.

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  6. That's fantastic art, such craftmanship. great blog! followed.

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  7. Those are phenomenal, great job

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  8. Both of those look really good. I'd like to keep a lot of my personal stuff with me to college as well, but I had to end up leaving a lot of stuff behind, like my pet guinea pig. :(

    But things with sentimental value are always a lot more touching!

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  9. i really like the first one! sooooo cool followed

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  10. sick stuff. almost as excellent as gummy vitamins

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  11. Making art is valuable because it reveals the artist.

    You are the myriad decisions and intuitions that went into the making of the piece. When you look upon a piece of art, you are looking at the material embodiment of the artist.

    The ability to transfer your thinking, and what some would call soul, into inanimate objects is a minor expression of the divine. You literally breath your life into it.

    I took my 4 y.o. daughter to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition a year or so ago. She stopped in front of “The broken column (self-portrait)”

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Q0W-oiMdWqE/TW6v1A5L2gI/AAAAAAAAAYs/AvkRooJ6FRo/s1600/the_broken_column_1944c.jpg

    She started tearing up, and looked like she was about to cry. I asked her why, and she said, "she hurt so much". Indeed she did, and 70 years later, in another country, a little girl felt her pain for a moment.

    Art making is amongst the most profound human activities. Everyone should make art.

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  12. wow it looks awesome :O it looks like it's difficult to make one..

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  13. That's pretty inventive, I don't have an artistic bone in my body so I'm easily amazed though. haha

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  14. These are great! A very interesting post, and I know how you feel about connecting through art.

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  15. Wow, you really made these! They're absolutely beautiful. :o I would love one in my room... I think you have something profitable going here. I think hipsters would love this. :) I'm not saying that in a bad way, just that this is very creative, which hipsters like. :p

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  16. Thats awesome, i would've never thought to do that, i wish i was that creative. Good stuff!

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