eco-friendly artists run nature-focused workshops at the Craftsmen’s Guild

For artists like Hannah Banciella, onion peels are more than just leftover food.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Banciella found itself without access to UF’s art studio. Inspired by flora from her own backyard, she started collecting acorns and medlars that fell to the ground, boiling them to create a natural color for her recycled sketchbooks.

In the world of eco-art, natural pigments found in vegetation are often used to create lasting artistic creations. Banciella was one of four artists featured on Saturday in the Crafts Guild’s first Eco-Art Making Extravaganza.

The extravagance ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Craftsmen Guild Gallery, located at 224 NW 2nd Ave. Rain or shine, the event included free art demonstrations, creative workshops and eco-art exhibitions.

During the event, participants were able to participate in each artist‘s station, where they organized a variety of eco-artistic activities like hammering flowers, eco-printing, sewing with recycled textiles and tea tasting.

According to EcoArt Network by international artists, ecological art, also called eco-art, is

“an artistic practice which intends to stimulate dialogue and encourage the long-term development of the social and natural environments in which we live.” Eco-artists often use natural materials to advocate for environmental protection.

In Gainesville, eco-artists focus on toxic paints and chemically bleached papers to focus on natural, reusable and recyclable art materials.

Banciella is a 22 year old UF graduate with a specialization in drawing and a certificate in ceramics. Her workshop consisted of helping participants create collages from handmade paper and hand-dyed fabrics.

In addition to sourcing all-natural materials, Banciella takes free books from local bookstores and recycles them into sketchbooks, infusing them with natural pigments. She said one of her favorite aspects of eco-art is the unpredictability of finished products.

“At first I was trying to plan them out and make them look nice, but I had to let go of that and think about different textures and different layers,” Banciella said. “It was really cool not knowing what was going to happen, not being able to control everything I was doing like it would be with charcoal, pencil or paper.”

For eco-artists, plants can do much more than add color to their work. Brittany Boyer, the founder of Ecological point and cycle, uses leftover food and local herbs to create textile pieces.

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Boyer was another artist presented to the extravagance. Eco Stitch & Cycle’s mission is to create artistic, reusable products from discarded materials. Through eco-art, the company hopes to build relationships within the local community and promote environmental awareness.

On Saturday, Eco Sitch & Cycle taught attendees how to make abstract textile fine art from common food scraps. Participants also learned how to make natural dyes and incorporate them into their sewing practices.

When it comes to sourcing natural pigments, some eco-artists depend on floriculture, obtaining colors from the flowers they grow themselves.

Wendy Free, a fifth generation Florida gardener and founder of Ecoglyph, taught participants how to grow and paint from the butterfly pea flower. The flower is known for its strong blue pigment and can be used to make tea, which attendees were able to taste during the event.

“It’s an unusual color because it’s so blue,” Free said. “It’s rare in the world of vegetable colors. It’s also a reactive pH, so in the workshop we’re going to add some citric acid, and it changes color depending on how much you add.

Free said the modern art industry’s tendency to use artificial paint ingredients containing copper, microplastics and petroleum products had influenced his eco-art mentality as an artist and teacher of art.

“Some of these items are really cool, and I’m glad we have them, but as an art teacher for 30 years there were things that I really didn’t feel comfortable exposing myself to. , and certainly not to students, ”mentioned.

In addition to using artistic techniques that have existed since the Stone Age, Free also tries to avoid materials that use animal ingredients such as bone charcoal for the black pigment and sable fur for the brushes.

“I really try to be aware of the impact of what I use, buy and share with others,” Free said. “It’s a bit like wanting to eat fresh, local, as natural food as possible with little processing, shipping, and no dangerous man-made chemicals.”

The fourth extravagant artist, Kelly Perez, is the owner of Flower fibers and has been eco-printing since 2018. She takes plants rich in tannic acid and places them between two pieces of fabric. After steaming them for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, an imprint of the plants appears on the fabric.

Perez said the beauty of green printing comes from the different tones and hues that can only be derived from natural dyes.

“When you look at a flower or a plant, you won’t see just one color, you will see many different colors and many different shades,” Perez said. “If you get something that’s just a synthetic dye, it’s a very flat, one-tone color.”

The artists of Eco-Art Making Extravaganza propel the goals of eco-art in their own way. Free said seeing the excitement and wonder of community members as they tried different activities was the highlight of the event.

“We were very grateful for the enthusiastic participation and support from our community,” Free said. “It was really fun for us to see how artistic creation can be made even more inviting, accessible and creative with an eco-friendly accent.”

Contact Brenna at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ BrennaMarieShe1.

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