5 Practical Ways to Create Art Using Recycled Materials
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Create a collage from old magazines
  2. Make a sculpture from scrap metal
  3. Paint a mural on reclaimed wood
  4. Weave a rug from unwanted clothing
  5. Assemble a mosaic from broken ceramics

Art is everywhere, and it's not just confined to paints and brushes. One of the most creative and eco-friendly ways to channel your inner artist is by using recycled materials in art. Not only does this approach breathe new life into items that would otherwise be cast aside, but it also adds a unique touch to your artwork. In this blog post, we'll explore five practical ways to create art using recycled materials, starting with making a collage from old magazines.

Create a Collage from Old Magazines

Old magazines that have been gathering dust on your bookshelves can find a new purpose through art. They are a treasure trove of colorful pages that can be repurposed into a vibrant collage. Here's how you can do it:

Choosing Your Theme

The first step in creating a collage is deciding on a theme. This could be anything from a favorite movie to a cherished memory—let your imagination run wild! Once you have a theme, you can begin flipping through your magazines, cutting out images and words that align with your chosen concept.

Preparing Your Canvas

Now, it's time to prepare your canvas. This can be a piece of cardboard, a wooden board, or even an old painting you no longer need. Make sure you cover it with a layer of white paint or primer. This will ensure that your magazine cutouts stand out and the colors truly pop.

Arranging and Gluing

  • Arranging: Before you start gluing, play around with the arrangement of your cutouts. Try different placements until you find a layout that captures your theme and feels balanced.
  • Gluing: Once you're satisfied with your layout, start gluing each piece onto your canvas. Make sure to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles for a seamless look.

Sealing Your Collage

After your collage is dry, seal it with a layer of decoupage glue or varnish. This will protect your artwork and give it a professional finish. Now, you have a beautiful piece of art created from recycled materials, proving that with a little creativity, anything can become art.

Creating a collage from old magazines is just one way to incorporate recycled materials into your artwork. It's a fun, personal project that not only helps the environment but also lets your creativity shine. So, the next time you think about tossing out that stack of magazines, remember: they could be the start of your next art project!

Make a Sculpture from Scrap Metal

Scrap metal — you might see it as just a pile of rusty, discarded pieces. But, did you know that it can be transformed into a work of art? Yes, you read that right! Sculpting with scrap metal is a fantastic way to reuse these materials and create something beautiful. Let's dive into the process.

Finding the Right Materials

Scrap metal can be found at local recycling centers, junkyards, and even around your own home. Look for pieces that have interesting shapes or textures. Don't be afraid to gather a variety of metals — mixing different types can add depth and interest to your sculpture.

Planning Your Sculpture

Before you start welding, it's crucial to have a clear idea of what you want to create. Sketch out your design, considering the size and shape of your scrap metal pieces. This will act as a blueprint for your sculpture.

Assembling and Welding

  • Assembling: Start by arranging your metal pieces according to your sketch. This will give you a visual of how the final sculpture will look.
  • Welding: Once you're satisfied with the arrangement, it's time to get welding. Remember, safety first — always wear protective gear when handling welding equipment. If you're new to this, consider taking a local class or watching instructional videos to learn the basics.

Finishing Touches

After you've welded all the pieces together, it's time to add the finishing touches. This can include polishing the metal to give it a shine or applying a rust-resistant coating for durability. And voila — you have successfully turned scrap metal into an impressive sculpture!

Creating a sculpture from scrap metal is not just an exercise in creativity, but also a testament to the power of recycling. It's the perfect way to express your artistic side while also promoting the use of recycled materials in art. So, the next time you come across a piece of scrap metal, don't discard it — your next masterpiece might be just a weld away!

Paint a Mural on Reclaimed Wood

After exploring the world of metal sculpting, let's switch gears and enter the vibrant realm of painting. Reclaimed wood provides a unique, rustic canvas for your next mural. The best part? You're promoting the use of recycled materials in art. Let's get started.

Choosing Your Wood

Reclaimed wood can be found in old furniture, construction sites, or even your backyard. The key is to look for pieces that are sturdy and can stand the test of time. Remember, the wood's texture and color can add an extra dimension to your painting!

Designing Your Mural

Before you dip your brush in paint, visualize your design. Sketch it on paper first. Think about the colors and how they will contrast with the natural tones of the wood. Whether it’s a simple geometric design or a complex landscape, planning ahead will make the painting process smoother.

Preparing the Wood

  1. Cleaning: Clean your wood surface to remove any dirt or grime. This will ensure your paint adheres properly.
  2. Sanding: Depending on the condition of the wood, you might need to sand it to create a smoother painting surface. Always remember to wear a mask during this step to avoid inhaling dust.
  3. Priming: Apply a layer of primer to help the paint stick better and to prevent the wood's natural colors from bleeding through your design.

Painting Your Mural

Now, the fun part — painting! Use acrylic paints as they adhere well to wood and are easy to work with. Take your time, enjoy the process, and watch your design come to life on the canvas of reclaimed wood.

Painting a mural on reclaimed wood is a wonderful way to combine art and sustainability. It gives new life to old wood while showcasing your creativity. So, why not pick up a paintbrush and start your journey of creating art with recycled materials today?

Weave a Rug from Unwanted Clothing

After painting, it's time to explore the world of weaving! One man's trash can indeed become another man's treasure—or in this case, a vibrant, comfy rug. Using unwanted clothing in your art not only cleans out your wardrobe, but it also breathes new life into old fabrics. Ready to weave a rug from your unused clothes? Here's how you can do it.

Gather Your Materials

Start by gathering old clothes. These could be anything from worn-out jeans to outdated t-shirts. Remember, different fabrics will create different textures in your rug, making it unique to you. Once you have your clothes, you'll also need a pair of sharp scissors and a rug loom. If you don't have a loom, don't worry! DIY looms can be made from cardboard or old picture frames.

Prepare Your Strips

Next, cut your clothes into strips. The width of your strips will depend on the thickness you want for your rug. Keep in mind that thicker strips will make a fluffier rug, while thinner strips will provide more detail. Try to keep your strips as even as possible to maintain consistency in your weaving.

Weave Your Rug

  1. Start Weaving: Begin by attaching one end of a strip to your loom. Weave the strip in and out of the loom's threads, alternating each row. Keep your weaving loose to avoid pulling the loom's threads too tight.
  2. Add New Strips: Once a strip ends, simply add a new one by tying the ends together. The knots will add a charming rustic touch to your rug.
  3. Finish Off: When your rug reaches the desired size, cut the loom's threads and tie them off. Congratulations, you've just made a rug!

With patience and creativity, you can transform your old clothes into a beautiful rug. By doing so, you're not only creating a piece of functional art but also doing your part in promoting the use of recycled materials in art. So, why not give weaving a try? Who knows, you might weave your way into a new passion!

Assemble a Mosaic from Broken Ceramics

Let's move on to an art form that turns fragments into masterpieces—mosaics. Making a mosaic from broken ceramics is like solving a colorful puzzle, where each piece plays a vital part in creating the final picture. Ready to turn your broken dishes into a stunning work of art? Let's get started.

Collect Your Pieces

The first step is to gather your broken ceramics. These can be from plates, cups, or even old tiles. The more varied the colors and patterns, the more vibrant your mosaic will be. Keep in mind to handle the pieces carefully to avoid any sharp edges.

Plan Your Design

Before you start gluing, it's a good idea to plan out your design. Draw a simple outline on a piece of paper or directly on the surface you'll be working on. This will serve as your guide as you arrange your ceramic pieces. Remember, it's your art, so feel free to experiment with different patterns and color combinations!

Assemble Your Mosaic

  1. Start Gluing: Apply a strong adhesive to the back of your ceramic pieces and start sticking them to your chosen surface. Work slowly, one piece at a time, to ensure a strong bond.
  2. Fill the Gaps: Once all the pieces are glued, fill in the gaps with grout. This will secure your pieces in place and give your mosaic a smooth finish.
  3. Wipe and Polish: After the grout has dried, use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess. Then, polish your mosaic to give it a shiny finish. And voila! You have created a beautiful piece of art from broken ceramics.

Creating a mosaic from broken ceramics is a fun and rewarding way to reuse materials that would otherwise end up in the trash. Plus, each piece you use holds its own story, adding depth and history to your artwork. So next time you break a dish, don't throw it away—transform it into a piece of recycled materials in art!

If you're inspired by the idea of creating art using recycled materials, we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'Creating Landscapes on Cardboard: The Process' by Shazlin. This workshop will teach you how to transform discarded cardboard into stunning landscapes, further expanding your knowledge and skills in incorporating recycled materials into your art projects.