Thursday, July 15, 2010

Journey to the Inside; day five... more older work..

    Before I came back to Eugene in 2002 I had been using found objects in my collage.   Everything from scrap metal found on Point Isabel to repurposing my own canvases and seaglass.  When I moved back here my first home was a warehouse in the Whitetaker just a block off the railroad tracks.  Soon walking the tracks looking for odd metal things to use in my art became a regular way to pass the time. 
   One day, I walked the other way and discovered a place called MECCA.  At that time it was located in a funky building on Railroad Blvd and a woman, Jennifer FG was MECCA's new director.  She too had just moved from the bay area and was interested in making art from castaways (which is why she took the MECCA job).  We became fast friends.  I remember spending a lot of time there rummaging through donated bottle caps, tiles and strange plastic doodads for artistic inspiration. 
    I am not really sure how or why I challenged myself to make a piece from cigarette butts.  I had tried a few times before I left the bay area with disastrous results.  But one day after making a piece from used tea-bags that my friend Alice promptly bought I became re-inspired to try again. 

     This isn't a very good picture of the piece I called "Old Bags".  Once the tea bags were opened up they looked like dresses to me.  Each bag had it's own unique hue depending on how long it had been steeped and how much it had dried out after being used.  I thought of the tags as heads and the strings attaching the tags as arms, although in this picture you can't really make out the strings.         
     Sometime while I was making this piece I got the idea to use the paper from cigarettes that did not have filters.  Just like with the teabags, after I unrolled each butt the tiny pieces of paper had their own unique qualities.
    The dress is made entirely from the papers of over a hundred cigarette butts; the burnt edges reminding me of ruffles.  For the head I used a cut out from an old Monopoly box.  The collage was made onto a patina-ed door that I nailed tacks down the left side and across the bottom.  Then I added an old Mexican metal piece I had hanging around.  The breasts were made using white plastic beads and tacked into place.  Yes I painted the tips of the tacks red to match not only her 'eyes' but the red 'donut' in her necklace. 
   Thanks for reading friends and as always your comments are greatly appreciated.  I may or may not have another teabag piece made by the time this show goes up but the Lady made from cigarette butts will definitely be at the show.  She doesn't even smell like old cigs anymore....  :) yona c. riel


  1. thanks for sharing,I like hearing the stories of other assemblage artists. I have seen a couple pieces recently made of teabags dipped in wax and stacked.

  2. sounds cool... i am saving all my starbucks teabags cuz they are made of silk and can be dyed just like wool...