More Marita in March

Olympia Dumpster Divers blog was originally started in July 2006 as a way to document Ruby Re-Usable’s HERE TODAY temporary art installation, although lately it seems like all Marita Dingus all the time, but I am sure you don’t mind, because Marita is so inspiring in the fearless way she recombines a myriad of recycled materials to create figures that resonate with cultural, historical, political and environmental issues.  So this month, we  will be posting about Marita once again.

The Gathering by Marita Dingus at Traver Gallery

Marita Dingus’ show “The Gathering” is at Traver Gallery, March 2- April 1, 2017 (more pics HERE and HERE).

“In her mixed media figurative sculptures, Dingus, to communicate her narratives, uses almost exclusively, recovered and found material as the medium for her sculptures, creating harmonious results from shattered pieces and discarded materials.

In her exhibition, Marita Dingus commemorates how humans continue to call upon the spirit world for help and guidance in conducting their affairs, especially in times of elevated threat and uncertainty. This show is inspired by Marita’s love of the nkondi sculptures of the Kongo people, which were used as spiritual enforcers of conflict resolutions. The Gathering represents the duality of people seeking spiritual support outside themselves when in fact the spiritual strength comes from within. Gathering is also a process of passing along to the next generation the skill to draw upon our inner strengths.” via Traver Gallery

This past Saturday Marita invited me to hang out with her and Lynn Di Nino at their wearable art sale at Dan Fear’s art studio in Tacoma, so I brought along my Singer 201k hand crank sewing machine for Marita to try out — she has several electric Singer 201 sewing machines and was skeptical about hand cranks, but was so impressed by the smoothness of the crank, the well-designed case, the portability and the practicality of it (when the power goes out, as it tends to do here in our part of the Pacific Northwest, a hand crank &/or a treadle is a useful sewing machine to have) — she totally fell in love with it and wants one now!

ps Marita introduced me to the glue gun back in 1986; more recently she is one of the people who has sparked my passion for vintage sewing machines.

Marita test sews with Ruby's 201k hand crank sewing machine

Beachcomber Fun Fair

Back in the beginning of this month, Second-hand Sid and Ruby Re-Usable joined Devon D Spazzatura on a trip to Ocean Shores, WA for the 30th annual Beachcomber Fun Fair.  There were displays of various kinds of beachcomber treasure, including glass floats, driftwood, shells, and tsunami debris; we even met John Anderson of John’s Beachcombing Museum.  But the highlight was talking with Flotsamist Dr Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who studies flotsam and publishes the Beachcombers Alert.

Dr Curtis Ebbesmeyer wearing his beachcombing necklace

Of course, being a trashionista, I was particularly fascinated by his Kamilo Beach (aka “Trash Beach”) flotsam and jetsam necklace, made by an Hawaiian artist (whose name I didn’t get) out of found beach trash and, according to Dr E, strung together with “used” dental floss.  He also explained his collection of “beach beans,” with my favorite being the ones that originally were from Ban Roll-On deodorant — totally appalling and yet visually appealing.  Check out more pics from our trip HERE.

Ruby/ODD Is Still Here!

Oh, my, it has been way too long since your trashy friend Ruby Re-Usable has posted anything, not really sure why anymore, but, well, here I am now, ready to start blogging again.

So what have I been up to since the ODD Trash Menagerie entry back in June 2016?  Hmmm, perhaps posting on Ruby Re-Usable’s Facebook artist page or sometimes lost in the rabbit holes of Pinterest and Instagram.  Let’s see, there was the Vintage Sewing Machine event that I organized for the Lacey Library in September 2016, with a dozen old & antique sewing machines for the public to see and try sewing with (including hand-cranks and a treadle), and another Day of  the Dead workshop for Nova Middle School in October, as well as coordinating the 14th annual Duck the Malls Crafts and Art sale benefit for the Olympia Film Society in December.  Spent 2 weeks visiting family & friends in New Jersey and New England in July (which is better and worse than it sounds) and 2 weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii in December (which is as delicious and fragrant and fun as you imagine).  My whole website went down this summer and it took awhile to get back up, and there was the hot water heater fiasco that flooded the basement and created a remodeling project that meant moving around and letting go of a lot of art and art supplies and some sentimental stuff, which took a toll on my creative psyche.

Also, truth be told, acquisition syndrome also took hold, so there has been too much time spent thrift store shopping and searching online for various vintage sewing machines that suddenly seemed so alluring and necessary for the projects that never really materialized because anxiety over things beyond my control metastasized from an ennui into an artistic depression that felt/feels overwhelming.

I did, however, manage to use my herd hoard modest collection of vintage sewing machines for a functional recycled art project: a crazy quilt patchwork duvet cover made from an unwanted aloha shirt via Second-hand Sid, plus fabric scraps from friends and some new material purchased at the local quilting store.  My progress is documented on my Ruby Re-Usable flickr, but here are some of the highlights:

1st block, sewn on a Singer 301
1st block, sewn on a Singer 301
last block, sewn on a Singer 201 hand-crank
last block, sewn on a Singer 201 hand-crank
finished Crazy Quilt duvet cover by Ruby Re-Usable
finished Crazy Quilt duvet cover by Ruby Re-Usable

Well, that is it for this month, hope to post more this year, wish me luck!  Oh, and Happy Year of the Rooster!!


Trash Menagerie – Art from Recycled Material

When I am not collecting junk or making art with it, I am teaching about art from recycled materials (check out my Washington State teaching artist page HERE), so I found this 1000 + ideas about Recycled Art and this  Recycled Art Work lessons page worth checking out, especially this video:

Marita Dingus: “Hanging from the Rafters” at BIMA

It is always amazing and inspiring to see what Marita Dingus is up to in her studio; last summer, I got a sneak preview of the 27 foot figure she was creating for the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art:

Marita Dingus work-in-progress 27 foot figure for BIMA
Marita Dingus work-in-progress 27 foot figure for BIMA

Finally got to see the finished piece installed in the entry window of Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, where it will remain on display through this summer.

detail of Marita Dingus installation at BIMA
detail of Marita Dingus installation at BIMA

Fun to get close to her work and wonder “what IS that?” and marvel at how she utilizes such disparate objects and shapes to create such an awesome whole.

Marita Dingus installation at BIMA photo by Robert Wade
Marita Dingus installation at BIMA , photo by Robert Wade







Happy Earth Day 2016

At Olympia Dumpster Divers, we, of course, believe every day is Earth Day, but we do appreciate the officially designated holiday as a way to emphasize and celebrate the love for Mother Earth.

LOVE your mother earth day

Here in Olympia, Washington, USA, there is the annual Spring Olympia Arts Walk, which this year happens to coincide with Earth Day and always has lots of sustainable/recycled/upcycled/green/Earth-Day themed art (plus a parade), including Carrie Ziegler‘s latest community-participation installation at WET Science Center; read more about it HERE

One Water - The Infinite Journey installation detail by Carrie Zielger
One Water – The Infinite Journey installation detail by Carrie Zielger

In Seattle, our friend Terra Holcomb will unveil “Terra Spiritus”  at Method Gallery; she will also be giving an artist talk today (which is also her birthday — Happy Earthday Birthday, Terra!).

Terra Spiritus by Terra Holcomb
Terra Spiritus (detail) by Terra Holcomb

Terra Spiritus is a 12 foot tall moss dress that is inspired by tree hollows found in Washington’s old growth trees in the Olympic and North Cascade forests. Visitors are invited to rest inside the epic dress to reconnect with the sounds of nature, while discovering hidden surprises tucked in the mossy cave

And at the Portland airport baggage claim, we have Nancy Judd‘s PDX Weather Advisory:

Nancy Judd


So HAPPY EARTH DAY to everyone and Chag Pesach Sameach, too!

Be Brave – Don’t Follow – Make Yourself Happy: Danny Mansmith


So I have fallen deeper down the rabbit-hole of vintage sewing machines: not only admiring the way these machines sew and were built to LAST (no planned obsolescence for these machines — there are antique & vintage sewing machines that are still being used to sew, 100 years later, AND you can still get parts for them), plus how cool they look, but also being intrigued by images created about vintage sewing machines.

Red Vintage Sewing Machine by Danny Mansmith
Red VSM by Danny Mansmith

While spending countless hours viewing photos and videos of vintage sewing machines, I came across the wonderful work of Danny Mansmith, who not only sews his own clothing, but uses a retro sewing machine to construct figures out of found objects and fabric scraps, creating joyful installations that make him happy. His motto is “Be Brave — Don’t Follow — Make Yourself Happy,” and I am sew so happy to have found him!

Danny Mansmith in his studio photo by Autumn Anglin
Danny Mansmith in his studio photo by Autumn Anglin

Danny Mansmith‘s work is part of the 35 Live: CoCA Member Show in Seattle; his work will be at CoCA PS35, opening reception 3/10/16.

More Danny Mansmith on Etsy and Flickr

Vintage Sewing Machine Doll by Danny Mansmith
Vintage Sewing Machine Doll by Danny Mansmith




Recycled Art Sewing Machines

Well, the year of sewing projects is off to a slow start; here it is, the end of January, and the only project that I have completed is a small quilted box, made from fabric scraps that I dyed and printed back when I was an art student thirty years ago.  It is pictured here on the left, along with the Singer 212 “Featherweight” sewing machine that it was made on.  Do you see that cute little “Project Runway” pincushion in the foreground?  Our friend Tossa deTrash gave it to me a few years ago, and I thought it was adorable then but now I find it extra fabulous because I finally appreciated that it is a vintage Singer sewing machine (66 or 99 or ??).

Ruby's FW and stuff in studio

So I have reusing, rediscovering, and vintage sewing machines on my mind:

Singer1 by Jennifer Collier
Singer 1 by Jennifer Collier

Jennifer Collier explores the ‘remaking’ of household objects by stitching found and recycled papers. Welcome to her fantastical world, where every exquisite detail is made, folded and manipulated from paper. Once books, maps, envelopes, wallpaper or scrap, the paper is transformed into textural forms. Like cloth it is stitched to construct two or three dimensional objects, decorative and functional: lampshades, cameras, tools and furniture.

Eric Nadeau Exposition2
The Seamstress Series by Eric Nadeau: reconfigured vintage sewing machines      via Peaberry Designs

In dissecting and rebuilding 1865 to 1950 Singer and other-vintage-brands Sewing Machines made of embellished cast iron or colorful metal pieces, Nado pays homage to feminism in the working class. Seamstresses convey a sense of nostalgia woven in our common collective history.

Martin Messier, Sewing Machine Orchestra (Photo : Alexis Bellavance)
Martin Messier, Sewing Machine Orchestra (Photo : Alexis Bellavance)

Martin Messier doesn’t sew : he resuscitates old Singers put asleep years ago in order to release, in some magical ways, the luminous and sonorous presence of the past. He carries his public in a dreamlike universe where each machine, as singular subject, is magnified. After years of silence, Sewing Machine Orchestra is giving speech to these surviving objects of the industrial era. (video HERE)

Who knew vintage sewing machines could inspire such diverse works of art?!


Sew Long to 2015

Singer 201Featherweight
the Singer 201 Featherweight that I found at an estate sale

2015 has turned into “the year that Ruby became a sewing machine hoarder collector.”  It all started when Wanda Wastenot wanted to sew something using my boring old JC Penney sewing machine (a cheap portable machine that someone gave me over 30 years ago — I used it to make quilts and stuff when I was a fiber arts student at the UW, but it was never an inspiring sewing machine) and we discovered that the machine wasn’t working. So then our friend Carl S showed me how to get some of the dust out and give it some oil, which it desperately needed, since it had been sitting, unused and neglected, for quite some time.  Getting that machine to run again made me think about sewing again, which I haven’t really done in quite awhile.  I decided I needed some inspiration, and thought a treadle sewing machine just might do the trick, so I mentioned to Lulu Let-It-Go that I wanted one.  Well, it just so happened that someone had just told Lulu that she had an unwanted treadle sewing machine that she wanted to give away to a deserving artist.  Next thing you know, I was the proud owner of a White Rotary treadle sewing machine that needed some work, including a new belt, to get it running, which is how I met Molly of In Fine Time, who repairs and resells old sewing machines.  She got the treadle going, but I have to confess, I still have not sewn anything on it yet … meanwhile, I started reading about vintage sewing machines and fell in love with the idea of something so old being so solid and well made and useful, and the next thing I know, I have acquired a Singer 66 that was made in 1913 and a Singer 221 Featherweight that was made in 1950, plus a 1960’s Singer Fashion Mate 237 M-A that I thought might come in handy, and, more recently, an older Brother sewing machine that seemed like a good idea.  So many sewing machines — what to sew?! Hopefully 2016 will be the year of sewing projects!

Singer 66
the Singer 66 that I purchased via Craigslist (not the prettiest vintage sewing machine, but very functional — although I really do admire some of the more ornate models and hope to have one someday …)