When I got the call from The Nate Berkus Show several weeks ago about creating an art project using the contents of someone’s junk drawer, I was naturally excited. Having a big pile of ‘random junk’ in front of me and being told to just ‘make something’ is the kind of challenge I love to take on. They gave me a bit of direction by saying they wanted it to be two pieces of wall art in gray and white and from there I was off and running. I took one of my own junk drawers (I too, have many) and played around with a couple of sample boards just to explore what ALL I could do with typical junk drawer stuff. I knew I’d end up having to create the pieces when I got to New York out of completely different contents that were from the actual family’s junk drawers but it was a good exercise to play around with things first so I would be ready for anything.
Here is what I played around with here at home beforehand….(can you spy the word in each?)
Below is what I had to work with in New York…(to see them in their final painted state……you’ll have to watch the segment from the show here…I didn’t get a chance to grab any photos)
HIS Junk Drawer
HER Junk Drawer
HIS art piece before it’s painted
HER art piece before it’s painted
BOTH before they’re painted… (their art department was going to paint them in the spray booth the morning of taping, so this was where I left things at about midnight the day before taping (with crazy ‘check this, check that’ ‘this one gray, this one white’, ‘edge framing would be nice’ kind of notes written all over the table)….I went back to my hotel room nervously hoping like heck that the producers would like what I did in the morning! Thankfully, they did. Phew!))
I gotta admit, I’ve done a lot of projects out of life’s leftovers but to solely focus on the contents of a junk drawer was creatively eye opening (Every junk drawer is different and their contents reveal a lot about the owner’s personality, interests, lifestyle, stories, etc) Once you dig in and start playing around with things, you’ll soon discover all the possibilities…..
Here are some tips on how to go about creating some of your own junk drawer art:
- Sort by color and size – see what you have to work with. Look at the shapes of your objects..do they resemble anything?
- Can some items be taken apart? This will give you a lot more material to work with.
- Develop a theme or pattern to play off of.
- The items can all have their own ‘space’ or you can build off them and layer the different objects.
- Are there stories or dates to go with any of the pieces….can that be worked into your ‘design’….everyone’s junk drawer is filled with stories….make it part of the art if you can.
- Using flat papers: They make great ‘backgrounds’ or you can crinkle them to give them body and texture…do some folding techniques.
- Work with larger items first and then fill in with smaller items…
- How can some of the items be creatively manipulated…disassembled, flattened, twisted, etc.
- If you want to maintain the integrity of the item…work a ‘pouch’ into the design so things like ipods/cameras, etc.. could be removed and actually used.
- Could come back in and paint some of the pieces in other colors or leave them as is for accenting. Could play off the different values of one color.
- Create hidden words in the design by using some of the objects as lettering.
- Great family project. Kids love digging through junk drawers and creating things out of what they find. Their little imaginations are very inspiring.
- It makes for a fun ‘I spy’ game when it’s all said and done.
Wall Art Steps:
Work on a wooden background for your canvas. It’s a sturdier surface that will support the weight of your objects. It also gives you other possibilities for connection methods. I just used a piece of plywood. Could explore other re-using other items from around the house as your canvas like wooden game boards, frames with wooden backings, old doors, etc.
Connection methods: Various objects called for different ways to secure. I used everything from high-temp hot glue – (for a quick grab hold before wiring), contact adhesive, white glues, wire, screws, nails and staples.
I did a monochromatic look for the ones on the show, but don’t hesitate to play around with other variations…leave some of the items ‘as is’…individually paint for pops of color….tape certain things off, etc…
- Determine background and size.
- Prime background – this allows for more even coverage after you have all your objects adhered.
- Layout all objects first to determine placement and positioning.
- Start securing each object in place. The object determines how you want to attach.
- Once items are all secured, spray with primer.
- Primer is important because you are working with so many different materials…plastic, metal, paper, etc.
- Once primer is dry, spray with even coat of paint.
- May have to position your board at different angles to be sure you’re getting thorough coverage.
Note: We had to work within short time constraints and with what was available so we did end up using spray paints and a couple of glues that I know are thought to be ‘unfriendly’, but they were the best choice for the job at hand…….if you’re striving for a friendly version, you can rely solely on non-toxic paints to hand paint and use only eco-friendly glues and the wire/screws/nail connection methods.
Other artful ideas for you ‘junk’..
- Use it to create interesting assemblage style portraits.
- Mixed Media Shadowboxes
- Create last name plaques/signage.
- Tabletop Sculptures.
- Smaller items can be used to create funky jewelry pieces.
Cheers to the natural collector in us all and the creative webs we weave..
(ALSO A HUGE THANKS TO MELANIE AND BRIAN FROM THE SHOW FOR DOING SUCH A GREAT JOB OF PLAYING ALONG AND ALLOWING US TO EMPTY THEIR DRAWERS…YOU GUYS HAVE A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY…AND I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING THE ARTWORK YOUR LITTLE ONES ADD TO THE MIX…Check out Melanie’s blog here!)
What does your junk drawer say about you?