WORKSHOP: In artists’ hands, paper recycling takes a creative twist

By Ken Keuffel
Published: May 24, 2009
Paper need not end up in the recycling bin to be recycled.
It can find new life as a greeting card, a wedding invitation, a bookmark or a framed piece of adorned art. All that’s needed is a shredder, a blender, lots of water, a couple of frames (one with a screen), a piece of cardboard and a sponge-paper towel.

Several clients of the Enrichment Center learned about this last Wednesday during a workshop led by artists Bryant Holsenbeck and Nicole Uzzell. The workshop was the result of a partnership between the center and Piedmont Craftsmen, which has been encouraging its exhibiting-member craft artists and the community to consider the creative possibilities of recycling.

The recycling process demonstrated at the workshop began with lots of shredded paper of several colors. Jane Doub, the executive director of Piedmont Craftsmen, seemed happy that her organization had provided it — or, rather, found yet another recycling-friendly purpose for it.

“If we didn’t use it here, we would … use it for packing gifts at Christmas,” she said.

The shredded paper, which had been soaking in water, was mixed with more water in a blender. This created pulp, which was dumped in a large plastic container.

The pulp at the workshop came to look so thick and soggy that it might have been mistaken for something edible, such as Jello-O.

“We’re trying not to eat it” said Holsenbeck, a Durham artist who specializes in creating various pieces of art out of used items, such as bed springs.

The paper pulp began to take form when two frames scooped some of it out. The two frames were stuck together; one had a screen, and the other did not. Something like a thick sheet of paper emerged; this was drained, sponged off and dried on a shop rag lying on a piece of cardboard. Uzzell decorated her example with flowers.

Throughout the workshop, each client got hands-on experience with each step in the process.

The workshop was one of several Piedmont Craftsmen programs focusing on recycling:
* On Show: Through May 30, the organization is presenting an exhibition called “Inspired Reuse” at its gallery at 601 N. Trade St. Several exhibiting members have created “objects of beauty” from such materials as “junk mail, bed sheets, upholstery scraps, old dress patterns, machine parts, biscuit cutters (and) furniture scraps,” press materials said.
* For Swap: From Thursday through Saturday, Holsenbeck led a Recycling Labyrinth Swap-a-thon at the AOL Conference Center on North Liberty Street. She guided participants “in designing a walkable labyrinth created out of household items that were still useable,” press materials said.
Participants brought non-clothing items for use in the labyrinth, or they selected an item to take home and use. When the labyrinth ended, its items were donated to such local organizations as Habitat ReStore.

Ken Keuffel can be reached at 727-7337 or at

Piedmont Craftsmen footnote: This workshop was made possible by an Art and Audience Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council and support from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.