Artsy Things

Published on April 19th, 2010 | by Kelly Rand


10 Ugliest Pieces of Recycled Art

Written by Simone Preuss of Environmental Graffiti, the Magazine Created by You

All recycled art seems funky, ingenious and fun. Until, that is, digging a bit deeper, we unearthed some pieces that are either in bad taste or just plain ugly. Or are they so hideous that they become cool again?

You decide. Here’s our Top Ten.

Number 10

Let’s start with the giant bottle sculptures made from recycled bottles. Surely a good idea but not too easy on the eyes. Seen at Evanston Art Center, Illinois.

bottle art
via pakattacks

Number 9

Staying with outdoor recycled art, here’s an unidentified sculpture at Cismigiu Park in Bucharest.

Romanian Sculpture
via travelblog

Number 8

These turtles made out of old military helmets could join the ranks of garden gnomes when it comes to shocking garden accessories. The question is- who of the two would be more militant when it comes to garden etiquette?

Turtle Helmets
via funksational

Number 7

This next piece could be a jellyfish, a sea anemone or something else entirely. Definitely something that has come from the depths of the sea. Or what do you think? You can’t deny it is thought-provoking.

via ecofriend

Number 6

We understand the need to do something with all of the bottle lids that accumulate, and we get the idea – lips, lid, face, etc. But one question remains – what do you do with this?

Lid Face
via recycledcrafts

Number 5

Take a few empty cans, some plastic strands, flowers and a ukulele and you’ve got a Hawaiian-themed recycled robot. Oh wait, you can also buy this sculpture for $180, no kidding.

via thebigidea

Number 4

These cupid dolls are made from recycled “Sweetheart” bread bags and some unidentified pink plastic. We get the message (love conquers all?) but wouldn’t shell out $35 for them…

cupid dolls
via greatgreengoods

Number 3

What is it with dolls? We can identify with the headless chicken feeling that these sculptures inspire but honestly, would you put them up in your living room?

Naked Dolls
via greatgreengoods

Number 2

Looks like fashion designer Tsumura got a bit too wired when he decided to combine recycling and art and create these out of fabrics, old plugs, LAN cables and iPods. We understand there’s tons of that stuff out there that need a new life but maybe it could be reused as it is, preferably under the desk?

via japantrends

Number 1

Our favorite – the tire Buddha. Or should we say tired? Good that nothing can upset a calm soul.

via greenopia

Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for recycled art. But it should be stylish or fulfill some purpose. Otherwise what’s the difference between the before and after?

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting. Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.

26 Responses to 10 Ugliest Pieces of Recycled Art

  1. Lisa says:

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While some of these might not be your taste, they are someone’s taste…and livelihood.

    Personally, I find this post distasteful.

  2. Jessica Marie says:

    Man, these are awful.
    Some people are too willing to call recycled art awesome or worthwhile, just because of the concept, but there have to be standards.

  3. Tami says:

    I love the tire Buddha!

  4. Di says:

    I like the Buddha :)

  5. Peter says:

    I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like:)

    Call it 3 out of 10.

  6. Cat Bishop says:

    Ahhh what an honor to be one of the chosen few for your list… I’m trying to figure out who to thank here but it appears two of you wrote it? Great minds think alike I guess :) Anyway the pieces of mine you chose were obviously not intended for living rooms, here’s some pieces that were and reside in homes of collectors all over the world.. Thanks for riling me up on a Monday morning. Oh and I also love the Buddha.

    All my love,

  7. as an artist I have to say art is made for arts sake,it never needs a purpose other than to be art

    as a very practical and green person I like things to be both artistic and useful for the most part

    most of the above sculptures are useless- like the bottles and that hideous thing in Bucharest

    The hula tin can robot thing- cute my kids and I make things like that for fun- would I pay $180 for it, hell no

    I do like the turtles though, I love turtles and I’m all for crafty yard art (and what’s wrong with yard gnomes anyway? :-)

    The buddha is awesome -maybe big and useless but awesome all the same

  8. Kerry says:

    The Tire Buddha is awesome. Too bad the artist is unknown…

  9. Taylen says:

    hahahaha excellent…the turtles aren’t too bad i guess :) glad to see a list that’s not just about the “best” or “greatest”

  10. ginger says:

    I like it ALL! Who is to say what Art is or is not?
    The headless dolls crack me up, and YES I would display them in my living room! HAHA. Whimsey is my inspiration!

  11. It’s such fun to be mean and narrow minded, isn’t it?

  12. Garden Beet says:

    a great post – the green movement sometimes creates an almighty visual mess – one of my pet hates is recycling plastics to make it look like wood – why? why can’t recycled plastic just look like plastic – nothing worse than faux plastic wood -

    • You might ber too young, but they have been manufacturing fake wood since the 1970s, maybe the 60s. And it was bought and used on furniture, floors, and walls forever! even today, people buy fake wood plastic floors called pergo, because wood floors are very expensive. it looks like wood….its big in the suburbs. Boring but very popular.

  13. Pam says:

    Personally, I’m all for anyone making art out of anything if it makes them happy. Creativity is important in life. Here’s what I do:

  14. Pingback: 10 Wege: “Kunst des Recycling”, über die sich streiten lässt | Kunst, Puppen, Quelle, Sache, Couture, Haute |

  15. Oh my. I hardly know where to start.
    A. I enjoyed the post, even while I worried one of my own pieces would show up, lol. (Some people like them, but some don’t. Just like everything else, I guess.)
    B. I thought some of the pieces you chose were weird, cool, unlovely, interesting…not sure about ugly.
    C. Goodness. People got a little exercised over this. To the ones who didn’t have a piece of their art “featured”, I’d say, “Relax.” To ones who did, “Hey. To each his/her own. If you like it, that’s all that really matters, and like they say in the movies, ‘ALL publicity is good publicity!’”

  16. paola buschiazzo says:

    Budda !!!!!!!!!!! É BELLISSIMO !!!! Idea FANTASTICA !!!!!!

  17. Honestly I love love love the majority of these pieces. I think you are seriously unknowledgeable about contempory art, or green eco art issues of the 21st century. All I can advise, is to go hang a cute picture of flowers, babies, or puppies on your wall, and stop bashing the fascinating, intriquing, and unique visions of the contemporary green art movements. “Ugly” best describes this blog’s tone and commentary….NOT the works shown.

    Yes, I would purchase and hang / display some of these in my home, and i will definately visit the Evanston art center to see the PET clear bottle sculpture.

  18. One last thing after reading the comments:

    The Tire Buddah is brilliant. The plastic doll babies are astonishingly wonderful, and the $180.00 tin can hula girl is under priced…WAY under priced. I certainly would buy and display all of these if I had the means too.

    “What do you do with this”…its a magnet for heavens sakes…and a great DADA movement one too. Dada was an early 20th century art movement. It was famous and is displayed in museums all around the world.

    Last but not least…the Giant bottle sculpture is so beautiful to me….I think it should be on permanent public display.


  19. “But it should be stylish or fulfill some purpose.”

    Ok in old school art theory…”ART’ is to merely look at and experience…while “CRAFT’ is something useable…artful, but used….a basket, a chair, a woven shawl are ‘craft.” not art. Art is hung on a wall, or displayed indoors or out…no other purpose.

    In the 21st century, theory is blurred…there is continual debate about the terminologies of the 2 words. Seriously, though, your statement is really uneducated.

  20. I’m surprised to see such a hater post here. And, if you had to go there, by the choices. There’s some seriously ugly trash art out there. You didn’t find it.

  21. inklion says:

    “It’s such fun to be mean and narrow minded, isn’t it?” (Jenny Bo Benny, above)

    That is the PURPOSE of this post, no? I mean, like, if there’s no PURPOSE, then why even bother writing it? How did you happen to decide on TEN as the magic number of ugliworks? Is ten a stylish number?

    “Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for recycled art. But it should be stylish or fulfill some purpose. Otherwise what’s the difference between the before and after?”

    Maybe you wanna move on to restaurant reviews instead, or some other place where you can dig your teeth into the purposeful meat.

  22. Art doesn’t have to serve a purpose. Craft does…according to what they teach in art school. what “art” does is cause one to think…and that is the only purpose needed.

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