Found and Made is in bookstores nationwide from 1 August.
I was always a creative kid. In my spare time I took pottery classes and carried around a sketchpad of animal drawings. One summer my project was to make a doorstop, so I found an old laundry bottle, filled it with sand, and papier-mâchéd and painted a face on the front (a weird old man, from memory). It held my bedroom door open until I hit my teens and became more interested in goth music and Emily Dickinson.
My childhood project closely resembled the ‘bottle bust’ in Lisa Holzl’s new book, Found and Made: The Art of Upcycling, where she takes an old milk bottle, buttons, pegs, and unwanted items, and turns them into a face. Holzl’s book has eleven such projects that intend to inspire kids to upcycle items that would usually go into the trash. The projects include a secrets box, papier-mâché kingfisher, and my favourite, the wheel of waste which is a woven plastic dreamcatcher.
Holzl is a practising artist who runs art workshops for children, and the book has the dual focus of creating art and also finding a new purpose for items that would be thrown away. She also teaches a sustainable art and design course, so wanted to create resources to inspire and assist other teachers, parents, and artists to use recycled materials in their art. While the environmental message of the book is unmistakable it is not heavy handed. The book’s large type instructions are clear and conversational, and accompanied by many photographs. The book also helpfully includes a tips section, a recipe for papier-mâché, a glossary of terms, and links to more information.
Found and Made opens with instructions on how to build your own art kit (what to collect and where to gather it from) and a project for making an art journal. In this way Holzl wants her readers to build up the tools necessary to be inspired by her projects and to adapt them to their own interests. This goal keeps the book relevant and useful, as many of readers could easily use the internet to find free craft tutorials. (image not from book)
Some of the projects also require more sophisticated thinking than just following instructions: the fantasy room montage, where you create the ‘room of your dreams’ from pictures in old magazines, and the project to create a self portrait out of string. Many of the projects I remember doing as a child, such as ripping up paper and collaging a picture (in this case a landscape), and decorating shoe boxes. These are projects that never lose their appeal, although it’s hard to pin down the target audience for this book. It will certainly be loved by any crafty kid, and some teens (that worldly and media savvy bunch) will appreciate the more difficult projects. The book will also be useful for teachers and parents who want to encourage this sort of creative play in their kids. To help with this, the Walker Books website also includes a five-page PDF of classroom ideas for teachers to use alongside the book. I know if someone had given me Found and Made when I was a kid it would have been ‘cool’ and I would probably have made them a friendship bracelet.
Reviewed by Sarah Jane Barnett
Found and Made: The Art of Upcycling
By Lisa Holzl
Walker Books, 2014
$24.95 RRP, 80pp, paperback