Art Biz with Liz: Recycled Art and Letters

Last Thursday, I attended a “recycled letter crafting event” hosted by the Residential College’s Letters Forum and Eco Forum. What are forums? RC forums are student-initiated and student-run discussion groups that focus on a variety of subjects. The Eco Forum presents a space where students can discuss issues concerning the environment and how people relate to it, looking at topics such as sustainability, climate change, and more. Letter Forum, on the other hand, focuses on the art of letter writing, allowing students to discuss the history of letter writing, create mail, and connect with people around campus and the world as penpals. The two forums came together to combine their interests and create a fun event for RC students.

For the event, attendees created envelopes and recycled art from a variety of materials gathered prior to the Zoom meeting. After an introduction to the two forums and ideas for possible crafts to make, everyone in the Zoom meeting set forth on their own projects. After about twenty minutes or so, we regrouped and showed one another what we had worked on. People made all kinds of crafts, including wreaths made from leaves, envelopes constructed from scratch paper, and bookmarks composed of old sheet music.

Using a paper grocery bag, I made an envelope and a maple leaf craft. A slideshow presentation in the Zoom meeting showed instructions to make the envelope, and I followed a video online to create the maple leaf. For both projects, I cut squares out of the bag and folded them into various shapes. I wouldn’t quite call it origami, the art of paper folding, since I used scissors and a glue stick; however, these tools were the only things besides the brown paper bag that were needed to make the crafts.

Autumn is my favorite season, and students often host special events during it. While some of the typical campus events have been limited due to the pandemic, the Zoom event was an example of creativity that students exhibit in continuing to plan events and connect to one another. The event was perfect for fall, too; colorful leaves presented a unique medium for crafts, while the season itself served as inspiration for other art. I made a folded maple leaf, for example, because of my fascination with the change that takes place during autumn. I photographed it against the hues of yellows and reds on campus for this blog post.

Note: These pictures were taken outside of East Quad and the MLB prior to the issuing of the two-week stay-at-home order by Washtenaw County.

DIY Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the middle holiday between Halloween and Christmas, that most people choose to skip celebrating besides take the day off and eat food.  As soon as Halloween is over people start decorating for christmas and wishing for snow.  Most don’t go all out on decorating the house for Thanksgiving, but they do put a lot of effort into making the food.  This year, instead of having no decorations when family comes over for Thanksgiving, decorate the house with fun last minute Thanksgiving decor.

An easy way to decorate for Thanksgiving is to just re-use your Halloween decorations.  The best way to do this is to repurpose pumpkins.  You can just keep mini pumpkins and gourds around the house and kitchen area as decor.  The only pumpkins that won’t work for Thanksgiving is jack-o-lanterns.  You can also take a pumpkin and gut it, then put flowers and other other decorations in the top of the pumpkins to create a centerpiece for your dinner table(pictured up top).  You could also paint the pumpkins or paint some festive words on the pumpkin to create a more festive Thanksgiving environment.

A good craft that most people know about and children do in school is a

turkey made from a hand.  Either by putting paint on your hand or by tracing it on a piece of paper and cutting it out, which makes the turkey’s body.  Then, you cut out feathers from construction paper and staple or glue them to the hand/turkey body.  There are other turkey crafts as well.  You can make a turkey windsocks out of a can, paint, googly eyes, and streamers.  You paint the can brown, and glue the eyes on.  Then the last step is to glue long strings of confetti that hang downfrom the can.  This also a nice decoration because you can put it outside so that others see your Thanksgiving decorations and get inspired.  Another turkey craft that is fun and easy is a rock turkey.  All you need is rock, feathers, and construction paper.  There is two easy steps to make this: first you choose which side of the rock to be the front, and second you just glue the feathers on the back to stick up and the eyes and nose construction paper pieces on the front.

An easy way to decorate for Thanksgiving is to just decorate the house for the fall season.  This is much easier because there are many options to decorate for fall, and many of the crafts only require leaves, which are very easy to require.  One easy craft is to modge podge some leaves to a mason jar and put some candles in it to put on the table or throughout the kitchen and living room.  Another easy leaf craft is to glue some leaves to a wreath made from twigs that you can put on any door throughout your house.

You can now take your Halloween decorations down and put up these new, fun, and easy decorations for Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving!