Chipboard for the Win

As an environmental artist, I’m always looking for eco friendly materials to include in my art making process. Eco felt allows me to sew and create textures and it’s made from 100% post consumer plastic bottles. Items found in nature, such as seashells and trimmed tree limbs, have also found their way into my work. I’m most happy when I’ve saved material from the landfill and can turn it into paintings, sculptures, or installations. Examples include bottle caps rescued from bars and restaurants, old power cords and electrical cables collected from offices, plastic shopping bags gathered from friends and family, and my absolute favorite material – chipboard. Cereal boxes, cracker boxes, packs of soda – all chipboard, all fabulous.

Why is chipboard my top pick? Versatility. Visually, I can paint it, draw on it, stamp on it, or cover it in paper or fabric. I even developed a technique that allows me to transfer printed text and graphics onto it. Chipboard is lightweight, which means hanging it in installations or adding it to canvas is a piece of cake, and it can be cut with die cut machines. Chipboard also has a magical way of remembering the way it is bent, making it great for sculpting.

Good news! Chipboard is everywhere. And it’s free! I save my own boxes, and I’ve been known to have multiple families saving their boxes for me as well. Yes, I collect trash from people. My largest project to date required over 900 boxes and took about 6 months to complete.

Speaking of projects, here’s a look at some of the work I’ve completed using chipboard.

Thoughts on America, 60″ x 60″ Mixed Media Painting. This piece uses the technique I mentioned to apply text and graphics to pieces of painted chipboard.

Leaves, 10′ x 10′ Mixed Media Installation. I hand cut 648 leaf shapes and covered them in paper, paint, and felt. Each leaf represents one acre of rainforest lost to deforestation every minute.

Bird in Flight, 24″ x 48″, Mixed Media Sculpture. This is a perfect example of how chipboard can be bent into shape. Each chipboard feather shape was ‘fluffed’ to create more texture.

Empty, 60′ x 45′, Mixed Media Installation. I die cut 1,894 chipboard frame shapes and hung them on fishing line to create a walk through experience. Each empty frame represents 100 empty stomachs for the 1,894,000 hungry children in the state of Texas. Since the statistic is food related, I left the chipboard unaltered to showcase the food products.

As you can see, chipboard is an integral part of my work. I’m still finding new ways to utilize chipboard in installations as well as paintings. Not to spoil anything, but there’s a 100% chance I’ll be asking for chipboard donations in the next few months. 🙂


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