This artist makes beautiful creatures out of trash

Emerald Pellot

Austin-based artist Calder Kamin makes beautiful trash art.

Kamin creates animals out of recycled materials. A pro at manipulating trash, it’s nearly impossible to recognize the plastic bags, eggshells and bottle caps in her pieces.


“I made frogs from birth control packets to discuss the effects of synthetic estrogen on the environment, learned to cut plastic bags into yarn for crocheting from clips of little old ladies on YouTube and then began to strip and twist the plastic bag,” she told SXSW. “New critters and plants are formed using koozies, Easter egg shells, bottle caps as well as other odds and ends.”

When the artist first began making creatures, Kamin used clay. After receiving a handmade bird feeder, she noticed the birds she attracted made nests from rubbish. She became fascinated by the natural-born recyclers. This led her to ditch the clay and scavenge for cast aside materials to integrate into her art. 

In addition to her animal creations, Kamin also uses her platform to educate others about plastic.

“All of my work is accompanied by educational workshops and activities that has widened my reach to thousands of school children,” Kamin told SXSW. “My work’s greater purpose is manifesting hope and possibilities for our plastic problem. I bring a second life to your stuff by turning it into a colorful and smiling creature and encourage others to do it. It’s simple, all you need are ideas, hands and a hot glue gun.”

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