In this episode of This Re-Usable Life, we go to New Orleans, where, Ruby Re-Usable is sorry to say, we have only been once, many years ago. So there are lots of things that Ruby is still learning about this soulful city, like the fact that NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana (duh), and that the pelican is the state bird and that the fleur de lis is this ubiquitous symbol that is used for all things NOLA.
Many recycled artists of NOLA incorporate the Mardi Gras beads that are strewn about like litter into their recycled art, and voodoo images are abundant. Post Katrina, artisans also have been utilizing the blue FEMA tarps and other materials salvaged from the destruction to create a wide array of accessories with a DIY aesthetic.
Top of the DIY list is, of course, Miss Malaprop, the indie craft enthusiast who has made it her mission to shine the spotlight on unique and independently made products and small businesses, telling the world what“™s really going on in New Orleans/the Mississippi Gulf Coast while documenting her approach to living a more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible lifestyle.
Recycling artists Mark Kirk and Heather MacFarlane are the darling duo who do Unique Products, making colorful lamps from plastic laundry detergent bottles as well as from the aforementioned discarded Mardi Gras beads, clocks made from tins and trays, FEMA tarp messenger bags, and other only-in-NOLA stuff.
Nola Salvage and her partner Bayou Salvage create a variety of very NOLA-themed stuff, like “fleur debris” and shotgun house wall hangings, pendants, and southern Gothic clothing and accessories. Bayou, who says “Never underestimate the power of debris to change your life,” also blogs about her thrift store and junk picking ways on Thrifting in Oblivion (where she lists “what NOT to buy at the thrift store” and other helpful hints) and posts pics of her recycled art work on flickr at RustChic.
The Second Line is a timeless New Orleans tradition ““ the colorful parade that follows a funeral procession to turn tragedy into a celebration of rebirth. Second Line Frames are built from authentic wood siding salvaged from homes destroyed during hurricane Katrina. It“™s their way of preserving a little part of the beloved memory of old New Orleans while helping to rebuild it toward a better tomorrow. A portion of each sale goes to assist in the rehabilitation of affected neighborhoods.
Art by Mags is the recycled art and DIY blog of “art-n-craftivist” Margaret Coble, a multi-talented magazine editor, organizer, designer, roller derby dame, and, well, you will just have to check out her sites to get the full picture of her NOLA-infused art work. We especially like her fleur de lis skull designs and her mixed recycled media assemblages.
Finally, we visit Skeleton Crewe, who reuses old paint can lids and roadkill soda cans as a canvas for his skull paintings; old newspapers get turned into paper mache skull masks for Mardi Gras and other special occasions. He also takes pics of NOLA buildings, people, and graffiti, documenting the architecture as well as the culture that makes New Orleans the most unique city in America.