Sculpture Projects With Recycled Material

by Sarah Freeman
Use empty cans to build sculptures.

Use empty cans to build sculptures.

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Building a sculpture is an artistic way to express yourself. However, you don't have to buy new materials to create a work of art. Instead, use recycled materials to make your masterpiece. Use almost any broken, discarded or unused item to design a one-of-a-kind sculpture that not only adds beauty to the world, but also protects the Earth's resources.


Create a zoo of homemade sculptures using recycled materials. Start with any discarded tube shape, such as any empty soda bottle, milk carton or shoebox for the body. Look for smaller tubes that can be used as the legs, arms and tails, such as empty toilet or paper towel roles. A piece of foam can be fashioned into a head. Attach everything with white glue. Add some extra character to your animal by creating scales from an egg crate or fur from a stained shirt.


Recreate the likeness of someone you know, or a person from your imagination, using recycled materials. An empty milk jug can serve as a head shape, as can an empty pillowcase stuffed into a sphere shape with plastic bags. Glue on scrap yarn for the hair, bottle caps for the eyes and a broken necklace for the mouth. If you want to make a body, place the head on top of a cardboard box. Attach socks stuffed with newspapers to the sides for arms and legs.


Sometimes art doesn't recreate an object, but instead captures a feeling through the sculpture. Create an abstract piece of art using recycled materials. Scour your home, trashcan and litter on the street for interesting items that catch your eye. A torn playing card, broken plastic toy or discarded license plate can all be used to build your sculpture. Arrange the items in any interesting design that's aesthetically pleasing to you. Or use them to spell a word, such as "recycle," on a piece of cardboard or scrap wood.


Bring your sculpture to life by creating a recycled work of art that moves. For example, place a scratched record or CD on top of a bolted screw and give it a spin. Cut a piece of aluminum can into a spiral or star shape. Hammer a nail through the center of the piece into a scrap piece of wood, ensuring the wood is not flush against the material. The metal will spin around the nail when it catches the wind. Or decorate bottles and hang them with string from a hanger to create a one-of-a-kind mobile.

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