Upcycled Art with Found Objects & Metal Embellishments

Prayer flag by Vivika DeNegre using found objects and metal embellishments

“Don’t throw away the potato bag!”

“Has anyone seen that little safety pin that was on the counter?”

“Where are those ballpoint pen springs I’ve been saving?”

A Prayer flag by Vivika DeNegre that uses potatoe bag mesh and metal embellishments including safety pins and springs

Art quilters: Can you relate? I just can’t seem to throw anything away because I know that one day it will come in useful when making my art quilts. The potato bag, you ask? Yes, the mesh grid on the potato bag has been known to be couched onto the top of a quilt or prayer flag and is the perfect substrate for weaving in threads or mixed media fibers. The tiny safety pins from clothing hang tags can be pinned to a quilt top and embellished with stitches. And those ubiquitous pen springs? I have no idea where I’ll use them, but I have dozens!

Many artists use found metal, paper ephemera, used zippers, and more in their artwork. The addition of these paper and metal embellishments adds so much to their quilts. I love looking for unexpected glimpses of an artist’s collection that has been added to a quilt, and imagine that others do, too.

Check out how Libby Williamson uses found objects, paint chips, metal hardware, and more in her art quilts in the April/May 2018 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.

Detail of “Square Dance” by Libby Williamson

Libby’s Tips for Mixed-media with Metal and Stitched Components

  • Upcycled Art With Found Objects And Metal by Libby Williamson called Square Dance

    “Square Dance” by Libby Williamson

    Consider cutting a window in the hardware cloth to frame a stitched element.

  • Ribbon and plastic measuring tapes can be woven through the wire mesh.
  • Stitching through heavy paper can be tricky. Photocopy cardboard and other thick papers onto printer paper and then paint them, eliminating the problem. Fragile vintage papers can also be photocopied.
  • When stitching the components to the background, it may be necessary to remove and set aside some of the top layers so that the pieces beneath can be attached. Before removing any pieces, take photos of the composition to document the arrangement. Reference these photos when reassembling the top layers.

Her work is amazing. And after that eyeful of inspiration, I’d love to know how you reuse and recycle in your quilts!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Quilting Arts Magazine!


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