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Creating Livable 21st Century Cities

Art, Nature & Recycling


By Reena Kazmann

Editorís Note: It is said that art imitates nature. And it is also said that nature recycles everything. Therefore it seems only, well, natural that artists and artisans of all types would make beautiful things from the discards of others.

The idea for this story came from discussions with Reena Kazmann, the founder and owner of Reena is both a committed recycler and an artist, and so we asked her to give us a brief pictorial tour of the nexus of art and recycling. We asked her to dazzle us with beauty from trash, and hereís what she came up with.

Beautiful Garbage?

Fhether you think of your household garbage or your local landfill, chances are good that what comes into your mindís eye is not a pretty picture.

But thereís beauty to be found everywhere, and so its not really surprising that a growing number of talented and committed artists, designers, architects, and builders are converting old stuff that would have gone to landfills into a wide array of useful and beautiful products -- from personal accessories to jewelry, from decorative items to housewares, from furniture to homes.

Take a look below at some of the beautiful things made from items that would have otherwise been laid to rest forever with your apple cores and kitty litter.

Jewelry & Personal Accessories

Double Dolphin Pin

Previously used Mardi Gras costumes, ball gowns, and wires from broken TV sets are transformed into colorful pins such as the double dolphin pin shown here.

Business Card Cases

Circuit boards from TV sets, audio components, phones and computers are made into various products, including the business card cases shown here.

Decorative Items & Housewares

Woven Wire Baskets

Zulu tribes people in Natal, South Africa, weave traditional baskets from untraditional material -- recycled PVC-coated telephone wire. Each basket is a unique piece of art.

Wind Chimes

Recycled glass and copper from curbside, industrial and glass artists' waste are fashioned by hand into decorative home and garden items such as these wind chimes.

Hand Made Cotton Rugs

Rag rugs are made from used cotton cloth. Rugs are all different, even if a pattern is repeated. One rug may incorporate blue fabric from jeans, another blue sheets.

Furniture & Homes

Coffee Table

Old bike parts -- chains, pedals and rims -- are remanufactured into wine racks, bottle openers, bookends, and picture frames. Wheel rims and gears were used for this table.

Antique Reproductions

Antique reproductions of cupboards, benches, and farm tables are made using boards, windows, doors, hinges and square nails from houses that have been torn down.

The Meadow House

This new home from Loken Builders uses recovered or salvaged slate, recycled copper-clad windows, salvaged timbers and beams, recycled maple flooring, recycled paper board, recycled bleacher wood front doors, and recycled glass for insulation.

A Beautiful Remodel

This remodeled home, also by Loken Builders, makes extensive use of salvaged wood. Timbers from an old saw mill were used to create trusses, and reused maple became the highly-polished floor.

Reena Kazmann is the founder and owner of She is a second-generation artist, and has been involved throughout her life as an illustrator, custom needlepoint designer, crafts teacher and manager of craft shops. Her needlepoint designs have appeared on the covers of Modern Maturity, The American Farmer and The Washington Post magazines. Several of the items shown above are available from


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