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‘Uncanny’ Art Repurposes Recyclables

‘Uncanny’ Art Repurposes Recyclables

For some innovative upcyclers, aluminum is a favorite material. It is definitely an abundant material — after we pop the top, quench our thirst, and rinse out the residue. If you see some strikingly familiar images within the fanciful flamingo sculptures embellished by artist Francisco Sheuat, you’re on the right track. Perhaps it’s Sprite. Or Fanta. Or AriZona Iced Tea.

Flamingo sculpture by by artist Francisco Sheuat
Can you recognize your favorite beverage’s can in Francisco Sheuat’s fanciful flamingo sculpture? Photo: Francisco Sheuat

Sheuat is among the artists, artisans, and DIYers who enjoy pushing the potential of everyday items that the rest of us dutifully drop into our pile of recyclables: aluminum beverage cans. When creatively repurposed, the empty cans become jewelry. And lanterns. And intriguing works of art.

Colorful Art Crafted From Aluminum Cans

For nature scenes, vibrant abstracts, and flamingo sculptures, Sheuat works with a diverse palette derived exclusively from aluminum beverage cans. He slices them into assorted shapes, sometimes sanding, embossing, or using other techniques to add texture or a holographic-like quality.

nature scene by Francisco Sheuat, made from upcycled beverage cans
Artist Francisco Sheuat represents nature with upcycled beverage cans. Photo: Francisco Sheuat
city skyline from upcycled beverage cans
Artwork and photo: Francisco Sheuat

Fans who appreciate Sheuat’s work keep him well stocked with supplies. They regularly drop off their beverage empties at his South Florida studio. “I think the audience appreciates my contribution to a better environment and the transformation of the cans to pieces of art,” he says.

trimmed aluminum beverage cans, ready for crafting
Sheuat’s fans regularly drop off their beverage empties at his South Florida studio. Photo: Francisco Sheuat

Artist Shumba Masani also receives a steady supply of empties from enthusiastic supporters. His colorful giraffes made with cut-up cans and copper wire are a fixture at Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. Some are petite. Others stand 10 feet tall.

Giraffe statues by Shumba Masani made from aluminum cans and wire
Artist Shumba Masani makes statuesque giraffes (and other “Canimals”) from recyclables. Photo: getcanimals.com

To protect his hands while working with wire and sharp aluminum strips, Masani wraps his fingers with duct tape. The artist is delighted when his work inspires others to think about recycling and upcycling. “I’m cleaning up the world one can at a time,” he says.

pink giraffe being created from discarded beverage can
Shumba Masani brings a small giraffe to life from a discarded La Croix drink can. Photo: getcanimals.com

Masani “Canimals,” which include various other recycled-can creations, are featured on his website.

colorful alligator crafted from aluminum cans
Another colorful Canimal created by Sumba Masini. Photo: getcanimals.com

Beverage Cans Transformed Into Delicate Earrings

Feather-weight metal and exciting graphics make cans ideal for designing earrings, says Susan Miranda. The aluminum is thin enough to slice out fun shapes with a paper punch, she says. As one of the founders of UpCycle Creative Reuse Center in Alexandria, Virginia, Miranda is passionate about repurposing. “My drive is to reuse what we have as a resource instead of buying and reinventing,” she says.

Jewelry by Susan Miranda made from upcycled beverage cans
Susan Miranda makes jewelry for herself and her friends using beverage cans. Photo: Susan Miranda

For her jewelry designs, Cindy Brunk of Recycling Redefined on Etsy reaches for beverage cans. “I like to feel like I am contributing a tiny bit to saving our planet by recycling,” she says. “When I was in college I worked with copper and sterling silver. Aluminum cans allow me to experiment with my designs without spending too much money. If a design doesn’t work, I just throw it in the recycle bin. Soda cans will do a lot of what silver and copper can do. I also enjoy soda cans because they can be polished and painted to create an enameled look.”

Other Impressive Repurposed-Can Creations

Alphabet magnets by Loda
Alphabet magnets by Loda. Photo: Etsy
Origami light from Red Bull can by goraygami
Origami light from Red Bull can by goraygami. Photo: Etsy

Feature image by artist Francisco Sheuat. This article was originally published on December 18, 2018.

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