"Celebration" was created for Dance Your Parts Off, an event held in September 2015, to celebrate Upcycle Parts Shop’s first anniversary in business. The "Celebration" original was donated to the auction/fundraiser.
I met Nicole McGee several years ago thru Bad Girl Ventures when she was creating jewelry from the oddest of materials, recycled floor laminates--with Plenty Underfoot. She also created gorgeous floral arrangements from plastic bottles. Those 'Bottle Blossoms' became the signature product when she founded Upcycle Parts Shop.
Nicole is a powerhouse of a woman, her spirit and enthusiasm are contagious. So inspired by Nicole's many projects and her vision, I wanted to support and be a part of the Collective Upcycle Holiday pop up Boutique at 5th Street Arcade--but I had nothing to contribute.
I didn’t think of myself as a maker…
But I’d spent years upcycling and refinishing old furniture, antique frames and other vintage items. I sold these finds on my eBay store and thru other channels and I probably could have sold them at Collective Upcycle, but I was burned out. Dealing in dining room tables, dressers, and furniture required storage space, a van to haul inventory, and muscle to move larger items. If I was making a product, it had to portable. More simple.
A friend suggested I make something with beach glass found on my daily walks along Lake Erie. I often sold beach glass and marbles on eBay to other makers because I could only fill so many vintage jars around the house with colored glass! My friend had “crafty” items in mind, but I didn’t see that; I hate crafting, don’t have the attention span or patience for it and I like my home free of clutter.
Items that end up in my house need to be useful and practical, or add to the calm and peaceful atmosphere I surround myself with at home. Something clicked. Perhaps I could put my beach finds on the gorgeous vintage canvas/frames I'd been sourcing, upcycling for years, and my art could add a relaxed, nature-inspired vibe to others living spaces?
So began my venture into 3-dimensional art. The art has evolved over the years, depending on what I find. If I only find teal beach glass, then my trees are teal. If I only find metal and stones, then I use metal and stones. Giant metal triangles have turned into sails for sailboats. I never alter, cut, or reshape my materials; only clean, seal and sometimes paint them. One thing hasn’t changed from the first tree. I create simple, timeless, uncomplicated graphics. They’ve been called “deceptively simple” by some. Originals take a long time to create, sometimes months of walking to find the finishing touch to complete a piece of art.
Celebration and Darling Daughter… I struggled with the colors. The real Bottle Blossoms are vibrant and colorful. My stones are organic, part of the outdoors. I can paint them, but the colors will always be more subdued, earthier than the colors that plastic will hold. My efforts at mixing color failed. My daughter sat down and started mixing. More failure. I encouraged her to mix random colors. Doing so was agony for her! But we got better colors. My daughter also suggested I add some of my trademark daisies…and it worked. So the final result was collaboration with my Daughter and we had great fun getting to the finished product.
The original and prints are a celebration… a celebration of Cleveland, its communities, of all that has been accomplished in recent years because people started small movements that created momentum, laid groundwork for big changes. They celebrate Nicole’s signature Bottle Blossoms, her journey, and her success with Upcycle Parts Shop. They celebrate my love of creating my unique art, which I never would have attempted without Collective Upcycle. They celebrate my relationship with my daughter, who I cherish, and who helped the final result be richer, more textured.
Where did the original "Celebration" end up? I believe it went home with the owners/founders of Maria Neil Art Project, who have a gallery in the Waterloo Arts District of Cleveland...