Category archives: Unique

ART | If Warhol Had Recycled, His Icons Might Have Become Superheroes

All American Blonde, Schimmel Art

All American Blonde, Schimmel Art

Fans of the late pop artist Andy Warhol take note: Sandy Schimmel’s portraits of the rich and famous can lay claim to one thing Warhol’s canvases can’t. They’ve got a bit of superhero in them: having rescued postcards from the edge, and homeless, post-season Christmas cards from the depths of disposal. Trash to treasure never looked so bold, emotional, raw, and mosaics never looked so modern.

Schimmel’s masterpieces call upon junk mail, other discarded ephemera to create something eye-catching and tactile. A self-proclaimed “art room brat,” she traveled to Turkey to master the art of mosaics. She was looking for a way to create the look of stained glass and after experimentation perfected her signature method. Check out this video interview with Schimmel to learn more.


First she paints a portrait. Jimi Hendrix. John Lennon. Twiggy. Even you (for a custom fee).

Next, she dives into what I imagine to be Olympic-sized collection of paper ephemera to create her palette of colors and textures. Schimmel hand cuts each piece, applies them to a painting, and well, you can appreciate the rest.

I discovered Schimmel’s appropriately enough, through my mailbox. She mailed me a postcard from her Phoenix studio and I was drawn immediately into her world. You can view the full collection and learn about gifting a custom artpiece at Schimmel’s website.


Sandy Schimmel is on exhibit across the U.S. See the events calendar for more information.


>> DESIGN BY RESCUE | Newsworthy Wallpaper

>> DIY STYLE FILE | Office Wall Art

Tara Donovan | From Banal to Beautiful

I can hardly contain myself — one of my favorite contemporary artists Tara Donovan is exhibiting again. Her latest work Colony, an undulating carpet of no. 2 graphite pencils (18,000 used in all) has joined other installations at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, CA — revealing the artistic possibilities of the prosaic pencil. Fab Green plans on being there over Thanksgiving.

I first saw Donovan’s work three years ago at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and have been captivated and inspired ever since. Donovan’s inspiration comes from mundane, everyday materials such as scotch tape, drinking straws, paper plates, and fishing wire, from which she molds and teases out sensual, abstracted landscapes and forms: be it pencils forming a haunting terrain of golden majesty or styrofoam cups congealing to create billowy, luminescent “clouds” overhead.


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DIY Style File | Ample Sample Project Plans

Instructions are out! How to convert cast-off carpet samples (of carpet cut-offs) into winning designs for home. The finalists, announced in June, included the above chaise lounge, a magazine caddy, a modern style bench and stools. Thanks to the team at Tricycle Inc. and Ample Sample finalists for sharing their design how-to’s with us.

For all build-it-yourself project plans visit the Ample Sample website.

Ample Sample Contest Finalists

You may remember back in March we announced Tricycle’s Ample Sample Contest, daring interior designers to transform their stacks of carpet samples into an appealing, functional interiors product. Ample Sample contest hosts Tricycle, Bentley Prince Street and Floor Focus Magazine designed the contest to help promote the “rescue by design” of hundreds of thousands of carpet samples that fall prey to landfills each year. Designers across the country cleaned out their material libraries and produced an impressive range of clever, inspired concepts ranging from furniture to light fixtures, hand bags to wall dividers. Well, the finalists have been picked and are on exhibit this week at NeoCon, but if you’re geographically challenged like me, you can view new photos posted just today on the Ample Sample website. Continue reading

DESIGN | Michelle Brand's Unique Petal Power

We’ve featured the wonders of recycled water bottles as art before, but this cascading fabric designed by British artist Michelle Brand truly mesmerizes me. The inspiration for these plastic petals were found at the bottom of a bottle–literally. Turn your empty Dasani bottle upside down and voila–a botanically inspired base. Michelle cuts, sands, and strings together recycled bottles to create this light catching fabric. Which goes to prove you can find beauty in the most unexpected, mundane places.

Up close and personal…Window Screen from the Flowerfall Series

Blossom Series of ambient lighting uses energy-efficient LEDs and recycled plastic petals:

Blossom lights aglow:

For Londoners interested in seeing Michelle Brand’s work on exhibit you can check out the Green Modernism Show at CUBE, on exhibit until this Saturday, May 26.

Via Belle Vivir

DIY Style File | Office Wall Art

Here’s a pretty resourceful design idea I spotted on Curbly: how to turn your collection of business cards into wall art. It’s an especially great project if like me, you’re in a design-related field and have collected bunches of stand-up-and-be-noticed cards. Or if you’ve abandoned your rolodex for a PDA.

* Sort cards by color, texture or theme. Look at them as a whole to see what kind of large scape print you can create with them.

* Turn them around. Some cards may have more designer appeal upside down, sideways, or on their backsides–begging to break out of the “same old, same old” mold.

* Cut, crop, or shred. Some cards exude more character when they’re cropped in dynamic ways. Think circles, lines, squares. Bring out your inner David Hockney.

* Consider designing a series of small pieces rather than one large piece.

* Mix the media. Admit it: you’ve been dying to do something with that new cover sheets on those pesky TPS reports. Ah, yeah.

* Layer it. Marker work on top could be fun–especially if you have a large number of white cards. Glue a few together to create some depth and pop.

* Get wordy. Arrange them into your favorite quote or word.

We’d love to see your designs or post your favorite office DIY project here. We won’t tell your boss. Really.

Chic Wrist CAN-dy

I love, love, LOVE these elegant Bohemian Cuffs designed by Hardware by Renee. You would never guess that they are crafted from recycled cans of tea (Arizona Green Tea anyone?) wrapped inside a white brass alloy. Amazingly affordable too ($26 each).

A whimsical cuff for Starbucks’ zealots. There are seven designs in all available here.

DIY STYLE | Ping Pong Lamp

I discovered this Atomic Pendant Lamp by Jeff Schneider on one of my virtual strolls through Apartment Therapy and was immediately drawn to its bubbly nature — thanks to over 400 ping pong balls and a hot glue gun. Jeff was kind enough to share his DIY instructions with anyone looking for a crafty light on an even lighter budget.

Step by step instructions from Jeff himself (with fab green tips thrown in):
1. Have a handyman install a hanging bulb (how about an energy-saving compact fluorescent) on a plastic arm, spray painted silver with a hoop above it to support a lampshade.

2. Purchase a spherical paper Chinese lantern with wire as the base of the structure. Wood will not work as you will have to remove the Chinese lantern after you have created your ping-pong sphere. the wire unravels easily.

Make certain that the hooks on top of your lantern will attach to the spider or hoop attached to your hanging arm. If not, leave more space at the top of your lantern for the hoop and you will attach hooks later.

Take into account how the size the ping-pong balls will add to your lantern. An 18″ round lantern worked well for me as my foyer is high and rather large.

2. Buy seamless ping-pong balls (or try collecting recycled ping pong balls from your local rec center or online at gigoit). Although they say they are seamless, there is a seam on the inside, which will be visible (i’ll let you know how to deal with these in step #3). I needed a bit over 435 ping-pong balls for my 18″ lantern and purchased them from Robbins Table Tennis.

3. Glue the ping-pong balls together around the bottom of the Chinese lantern. Continue to glue, using a small amount everywhere the ping-pong balls touch. starting at the bottom, you can determine if you would like a small opening or if you would like the sphere covered completely. In addition, by starting at the bottom, if you end up with an odd space at the top… who cares? Who’s going to see it?

If you do not want to paint the ping-pong sphere after assembly, color test some of the clear glues. I used superglue, which yellowed as it dried, but made for a very strong sphere. If you do not paint, your shade will be have a yellow hue as the ping pong balls themselves are off-white.

Make certain that the seams of the ping-pong balls are parallel to the sphere so that they won’t be visible. this sounds like a pain, but it’s really worth it. I learned as I went along and didn’t match up the seams or make certain they were parallel to the sphere and you can see them. In other words, look at the ping-pong ball from the direction it is facing out… you shouldn’t be able to see a seam from that angle. once you get going, the process moves along quickly, especially with a fast-drying glue.

4. When the sphere is complete:

start delicately removing the wire from the lantern. The wire and paper will come out easily.

If the top ring of your lantern (with the hooks) attaches to your spider or hoop, keep that top ring and glue it to your top ring of ping-pong balls.

If the opening of your shade is still too small for your spider or hoop, do what I did. take an exacto knife and start removing ping-pong balls, cutting at the glue between them until you have a gap large enough to place over the hoop or spider. Take that top ring of the chinese lantern, cut it with wire cutters and size it to your new opening and glue it to your top ring of ping-pong balls

5. If you want to paint the sphere buy some type of high heat resistant paint meant for radiators, etc. (hmm, anyone know a green alternative here?). I was lucky enough to be able to use an empty apartment in my building that was being renovated.Iif you don’t have a space available, find a large box, buy some clear plastic. Hang your sphere inside the box attached to a dowel so you can turn it. Spray in very light coats, multiple times. Maybe you can find an auto body shop? I’m certain they could do a great job.

Feel free to e-mail Jeff if you have any questions about the project. Thanks Jeff!

Fab Friday | Fashion Finds

Some fabulous links to eco-chic fashion spotted around the web this week:
Emerging Parisian design label SANS debuts a simple yet sensual line of womenswear this season that features fresh and flattering silhouettes and sustainable fabrics made from bamboo, soy, tussah silk and organic cotton. SANS is a collaboration between designer Lika Volkova and sustainable production veteran Alessandro De Vito.

Via Jill Danyelle of fiftyRx3 for Inhabitat

Sk8bags and accessories by beck(y). Designed by Becky Hickey, the collection featured handcrafted, one-of-a-kind bags, iPod cases, wallets, totes and belts constructed from recycled skateboards and plush fabrics.

Accessories by San Francisco designer Liz Saintsing for vintage UNTAMED. Unique bags and belts inspired from refashioned flea-market finds and graphics printed by Liz herself.

Via Miss Malaprop at Stylehive

Kimono Rings by Carrotbox $16 and up. Made using recycled vintage Japanese kimonos and acrylic.

Fab Friday | Interior Finds

Thought it would be fun to start a weekly Fab Friday feature of hot green style finds spotted around the web. A little design inspiration for the weekend. Enjoy!

Stenciled Seats by Zaishu. Inspired by Japanese slot-construction design, the Aussie Zaishu design team use plantation grown wood veneer, water based inks and varnish to create these graffiti-inspired flat-pack seat-tables.

Volivik Lamp by Enpezia. Clear and classy chandelier made from recycled Bic Ballpoint pens.

Housing Works Boutique Opens in Brooklyn
This hip thrift New York chain offers a range of beautiful, gently used furnishings, jewelry, clothing, home decor and artwork. From Danish modern to classic French styles, we think the pieces are fabulous. Online bidding is available for all of us non-New Yorkers. Here’s a picture of the new Brooklyn storefront for a peek:

German company Bulbs Unlimited offers Build-it-Yourself Chandelier kits made from recycled bulbs. Six styles in all. English brochure available on the website.