Marilyn and TrashasaurusWe're happy to present the first issue of The Re-Source, a quarterly newsletter packed with great art ideas for saving money and Mother Earth. As a way of introducing myself, just let me say that I'm an artist, and I have fifteen years experience teaching art at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. Since leaving the public school system in 1988, I've enjoyed teaching hundreds of kids in small groups in my studio.

Oftentimes, we've reused and recycled materials to create art, but I'm not a purist when it comes to saving the environment. In fact, I backed into this whole reuse/recycling thing when I taught elementary art. One morning, my principal stopped by my room to tell me he was going to cut my budget for the upcoming semester. I learned that instead of the usual $1,000 with which I bought art supplies for the entire school, $250 would have to do.

I immediately began planning ways to find grant money and other funding to help make up the difference, but I also turned to collecting and reusing solid waste as art materials. After all, it was free and easy to come by. In 1990, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day was observed. As a result, interest in saving the environment seemed to take on a new life, and it occurred to me that I could encourage reuse by sharing my art activities with others.

Two years later, I received a grant to create and produce a local television series that showed kids how to reuse and recycle materials to create art. In 1996, I launched The Imagination Factory on the Internet. Since then, millions of people have visited the site looking for inexpensive art ideas or ways to teach kids how to reduce, reuse, and recycle, thereby saving energy, natural resources, and landfill space.

In the coming months, we'll give you tips on topics such as how to start a local scrap exchange, along with the names and contact information for organizations that can help as you reuse materials. We'd like to hear from you, so if you have an idea for a particular topic or issue, drop us an e-mail at kidatart@kid-at-art.com.
What's In This Issue

Summer 2008

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to this!

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Creativity and Conservation

Go Hand-in-Hand

More and more people are jumping on the recycling bandwagon, but teachers were leading the band long before recycling became the right thing to do. When money is tight, art is frequently the first subject that suffers budget cuts in school systems, so teachers often resort to using trash or solid waste as an inexpensive source of art materials.

Click to enlarge imageI know that many others who work with children manage to teach with very little money, too, but working on a "bare bones budget" and reusing materials isn't necessarily a bad thing. Besides helping to save the environment and money, making art from solid waste or trash requires kids to think in new ways, and making something out of nothing is fun and challenging.

In addition to hosting The Imagination Factory, I lead art/reuse workshops for solid waste management educators and teachers. Participants learn how to creatively reuse solid waste materials to make quality art and crafts, and they discover free, community sources of preconsumer waste. I'd like to share some of those resources with you.
iloveschools iLoveSchools offers a free donor-matching service for teachers who create WishLists of their classroom needs such as equipment, materials, and supplies. Then they're matched with people who donate the items. Search the Resource Library for links to specific states.

In addition to links to resources in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England, Costa Rica, India, and Italy, the Materials Exchange has state by state listings and links to operations that offer industrial process wastes, by-products, and surpluses.

freecycleThe Freecycle Network is an online resource that encourages reuse. It's made up of millions of members around the world who post items that are available for free in their respective towns and cities. Go to Freecycle to learn more about the organization or to sign up for a free membership. To find a group in your state, click here..

ReDO is an international nonprofit organization that promotes reuse as an economical means for managing surplus and discarded materials. Their searchable database links to many states and a few places in Canada. To find a Reuse Center near you, go to Reuse Center.

Another online resource that offers excess inventory, free of charge, to individuals and businesses is Throwplace.com®. Registered users can search for items and make requests for things they can use.

trashmatcherAnd don't forget The Imagination Factory's Trash Matcher. Introduced in honor of America Recyles Day, The Trash Matcher links specific types of solid waste to dozens of art/reuse activities at the si
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by Marilyn J. Brackney

Newsletters Archived by Topic

The link above will allow access to dozens of Imagination Factory art activities and articles that appear in all newsletters.

world hands

Dryer Lint Clay

nrc-recycle.org flag imageInstead of sending all that dryer lint to the landfill, collect it to use in making modeling material. Drying bath towels will produce a good amount, but you can save the lint from several loads until you get enough to make Dryer Lint Clay.

You'll need:

How To:

Tear the dryer lint into small pieces, and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water. When the lint is thoroughly soaked, add the flour.

Stir constantly over low heat till the mixture is smooth and holds together. Pour onto a stack of newspapers, and allow the mixture to cool. Knead with your hands to make the texture uniform.

Model the material to make small figures, or use it to cover balloons or other armatures. After three to seven days, it should be dry enough to paint. Spray with the clear acrylic to help make the finish more permanent.

Tips and Tricks:

To make it smell better, add four drops of wintergreen mint flavoring to the clay while mixing.

Sprinkling a few teaspoons of powdered wallpaper paste on the dryer lint and then kneading it to mix will make it hold together better.

cool, it's ready to paint. If it's still cool, wait a day or so before decorating.


In the old days, where did the Lone Ranger take his trash? Answer: