Art From Unusual Materials

Recycled materials such as cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, bicycle gears, coins and others can be transformed into beautiful art in the hands of a talented artist. These materials receive new life as the artist sees old things in new ways, full of potential.

Artwork by Erika Iris Simmons

Here is a portrait of Michael Jackson made with recycled cassette tape. I’m not sure how I feel about the man after reports of his child abuse, but I have to admit that the portrait is very clever. The tape, of course, seems fitting for a musician, and it also seems to work perfectly for Jackson’s coiffure. The artist, Erika Iris Simmons, has done similar portraits of several other musicians: The Beatles, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, etc.

Artwork by Laura Harris

Artist Laura Harris made this creative mosaic with materials such as recycled bicycle gears. Her site lists some other materials she uses in mosaic work. “These fine art mosaic pieces are heirloom treasures created from rare, precious, hand-cut materials including: dichroic glass, 24kt gold smalti, porcelain gems, one-of-a-kind ceramic tiles, faceted mirrors, natural river stones and an array of antique metals and delicate objects.”

Artwork by Sean E. Avery

Australian artist, Sean E. Avery, creates animal sculptures like the hedgehog above from recycled CDs and DVDs. With their iridescent quality, the recycled discs really make for an interesting medium.

Artwork by Federico Uribe

This sculpture, by Federico Uribe, is made with coins. He created a variety of other female torsos from unusual materials such as pencils, bullets, dominoes, computer keys, electronic connections and even rubber lips. Of the examples I saw, this one is my favorite, partly because, unlike some of the others, this one has a head and seems less impersonal. Also, the coins worked perfectly both for the lady’s necklace and the rippled texture of her ruffly dress.

Artwork by Mary Ellen Crocteau

Artist Mary Ellen Crocteau created this amazing eye with recycled bottle caps. She even created her own accurate self portrait using this same strange medium. Amazingly, she is able to collect and sort appropriate colors and use them to shade and create a realistic look.

Rollin’, Rollin’ Roland by Amy Flynn

You can find and purchase some unique robot sculptures by Amy Flynn on The artist is inspired by her love both of robots and flea markets. The sculpture above is called “Rollin’, Rollin’ Roland.” This is what the site says about this one: “Roland (and his pony) are found object robots made from authentic vintage parts, that may include candy and spice tins, Baby Brownie camera, party noisemaker, screen door bracket, toilet float, license plate, erector set wheels, wire brush, hose fittings, amp meter, telephone wire, folding skeleton key, candy molds, and a clock gear. Each one has (like the Tin Man) a metal heart inside.”

Jelly Belly portrait of Ronald Reagan from the Jelly Belly Co. Visitor Center

How about a portrait of Ronald Reagan made entirely from Jelly Belly jelly beans? The former president was openly a fan of the snack. This portrait can be found at the Jelly Belly Co. Visitor Center in Fairfield, California. I found the portrait on several sites but could not find information on the artist. It is, however, possibly Peter Rocha, who created a different portrait of the former president, with American flag in the background, all from Jelly Bellies.

Artwork by a co-op of Kenyan artisans

This colorful, mighty lion sculpture is made from recycled flip flops by a co-op of artisans in Kenya. Flip flops are rescued from filling up the landfills and given new purpose. You can purchase this or similar sculptures at

Artwork by Bernard Pras

French artist, Bernard Pras, created this amazing portrait of Einstein from assorted junk. His junk assemblages are only temporary, and the photograph of the arrangement is the only lasting artwork. Bras has also done portraits of other famous faces as well as reproductions of famous art like Botticelli’s Venus and Munch’s The Scream.

“Hot Dog” sculpture by Robert Bradford

Artist, Robert Bradford, creates sculptures from recycled plastic toys. The name of the piece above is “Hot Dog” and is created with plastic toys on a wooden armature. It’s interesting how the use of smaller toys on the back of the dog’s head seems to suggest tight curls of fur.

Did you enjoy these? Which of these was your favorite?

Bubbles (An Old Poem of Dad’s)

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Dad recently messaged me with a few old poems from his youth, and I thought I would republish one here.


Never trust a bubble,

Though it bobbles in the air,

Or drifting gently there,

Does allure.

Though it twinkles in the light

With colorful delight,

Don’t be sure.

Though you very lightly grasp it,

Though you very gently clasp it

Like a dunce;

All at once,

Nothing first,

It will burst.

© James Monroe Clark 2021 (Written some time in the ’50s.)

My dad was a physics major at New York University and was a senior scientist at ITT, accumulating 44 patents over his time there. He was working on things like voice recognition and GPS long before these became common terms everyone knew. He also invented many things to help out the U.S. military and worked on a secure telephone that President Reagan used. Many who know him might be surprised at his artistic side, but he wrote a lot of poems in his youth.

I have a great aunt on dad’s side who had some accomplishments as a painter and poet. Below is one of her poetry books.

One Thanksgiving, a cousin on dad’s side, who has appointed himself as our family historian, shared all sorts of stories about Great Aunt Marie and showed me a different poetry book of hers that he has. I never met my great aunt, but I found it all fascinating. I Googled my great aunt and was surprised at what I found. I was able to order the book above from Amazon, which actually came from a used bookstore in California, and was even an autographed copy. I’ve been meaning to post about this in detail for a long time, so stay tuned …

Creative Collage Art

I was perusing my “Art I Like” board on Pinterest and curated this art collection on a similar theme — collage. Collage artists here use pencil shavings, old newspapers and magazines, old sheet music, recycled Metrocards or assorted recycled junk to create pleasing creations and even recognizable famous faces or artwork. Only one piece in this collection is not technically a collage, but a sculpture, but since it is made with old sheet music, as some of the other pieces, it seems to fit. I only republished pieces where I could trace the artist and credit him or her.

pencil shaving art by Kristina Webb
Collage of Audrey Hepburn (made with old newspaper and magazine clippings) by Ines Koudis
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, made with recycled junk, by Jane Perkins
Sculpture made from old music books, by BeckyJArts on Etsy
Beethoven collage, made with notes cut with Xacto knife from sheet music, by Erika Iris Simmons
Van Gogh’s sunflowers recreated with wood wrapped in newspaper, by Lee Kyu-Hak
Collage of Itzhak Perlman, made with recycled Metro cards, by Nina Boesch
‘pictures of magazines 2’ by vik muniz ‘a bar at folies bergères’, after edouard manet

Two Duck Poems with Duck Photography

Photo by Susan Joy Clark

I’ve had a few opportunities to photograph ducks in the park from different trips there. I found these two floating on a raft together to be rather endearing. (It’s hard to tell, but I think the raft may actually be a platform that is anchored there underwater.) I keep noticing mallards together in male/female pairs, and it makes me think of Bambi and all of the animals getting “twitterpated” in springtime.

I thought I would combine photos with a couple of fun duck poems (not my own this time) of which I was reminded recently.

Photo by Susan Joy Clark

The Duck

Behold the duck.

It does not cluck.

A cluck it lacks.

It quacks.

It is specially fond

Of a puddle or pond.

When it sups,

It bottoms ups.

— by Ogden Nash

Another duck couple. Although seen on another day, perhaps it’s the same one?
Photo by Susan Joy Clark

I don’t have any “bottoms up” photos, but here is another duck poem with a similar theme, this time by Kenneth Grahame.

Ducks’ Ditty

All along the backwater,

Through the rushes tall,

Ducks are a-dabbling,

Up tails all!

Ducks’ tails, drakes’ tails,

Yellow feet a-quiver,

Yellow bills all out of sight,

Busy in the river!

Slushy green undergrowth

Where the roach swim —

Here we keep our larder,

Cool and full and dim.

Everyone for what he likes!

We like to be

Heads down, tails up,

Dabbling free!

High in the blue above

Swifts whirl and call —

We are down a-dabbling

Up tails all!

— by Kenneth Grahame

So, I don’t have any “bottoms up” photos of ducks, but I do have this photo of some baby ducklings.

Photo by Susan Joy Clark

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Street Art

Bloom Where You Are Planted Mural in Bloomfield, NJ, Photo by Susan Joy Clark

I saw this mural on an underpass on Broad Street in Bloomfield, New Jersey. I was on foot for a bit, so I took a photo. It impressed me with its vivid colors and beauty. It’s a lot more pleasant than looking at plain concrete. The mural was signed by The Art Alchemist.

Photo by Susan Joy Clark

From this angle, you can see that the giant flowers are pushing up through concrete in a cityscape.

According to the Art Alchemist’s website, the mural is entitled “Bloom Where You’re Planted” and represents the strength needed to grow wherever you are. It was commissioned by the township of Bloomfield. Not only is it visually pleasing, the mural has a positive message. You can go to The Art Alchemist to see more examples of the artist’s work.

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