Trashy Woman sends German trash to America: Is it Art?

In the US I am a proud member of an Artist Collective called Trashy Women. We are a collective of nine women artists who all have our own artistic specialties. There are painters, ceramicists, jewelers, sculptors, glass workers and some of us work in all these mediums. When we meet as a collective and show together, we make art out of found objects and trash. Some people called it upcycling which is a useful step up from recycling.

Meet the Trashy Women Artist Collective seen here at their opening at the Newark Arts Alliance From left to right: Sue, Caryn, Trebs, Donna, Dragonfly, Jamie, seated Maggie and not pictured Jo, and Mindy. Photo by Mary Lowenstein Anderson
Meet the Trashy Women Artist Collective seen here at their opening at the Newark Arts Alliance From left to right: Sue, Caryn, Trebs, Donna, Dragonfly, Jamie, seated Maggie and not pictured Jo, and Mindy. Photo by Mary Lowenstein Anderson
A good day at the beach. People ask me if I'm collecting rocks and I reply no, I'm collecting garbage to make art. Then they look at me funny and I say I'm picking up glass so the doggies don't hurt their feet. This makes them happy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A good day at the beach. People ask me if I’m collecting rocks and I reply no, I’m collecting garbage to make art. Then they look at me funny and I say I’m picking up glass so the doggies don’t hurt their feet. This makes them happy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In March the Trashy Women will be having a show at the Gibby Center for the Arts in Middletown, Delaware. I really wanted to participate in this show but I’m almost 4,000 miles away in Bremerhaven Germany this year. Bremerhaven has no shortage of garbage, but my tools and art supplies are in the States in my studio. So, what can I create for this show? I had collected a pile of beach glass from the Weser-Strandbad and some broken shards from the street but I wasn’t sure how I was going to put it together without my stained-glass supplies.

March 7-13 2019. If you're near Middletown, Delaware that day I hope you can make the show.
March 7-13 2019. If you’re near Middletown, Delaware that day I hope you can make the show.

I walked to the hardware store for inspiration and found some wire in the gardening section. I figured I could wrap the glass with the wire and create an image from there. An insane, time-consuming undertaking, but what are sabbaticals for if not for projects like this?

Let the madness begin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Let the madness begin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Creating the image. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Creating the image. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I started with a piece of paper equaling the dimensions of the mailing box I picked up from the post office. I wasn’t taking any chances with shipping. Ha ha.

Then I drew an image on the paper and placed the glass on the image using colors and shapes that I felt were appropriate. Once the image was realized I proceeded to wrap each piece with wire and then connected the pieces together. Connecting the pieces was tricky, especially on the first window. I developed a method of “sewing” them together with the wire.

Sewing it together. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sewing it together. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Ouch! Working with wire's dark side. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Ouch! Working with wire’s dark side. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

By the third one I was a pro. Like all things I make they are over engineered and extra strong. Probably much stronger than they need to be.

Andreas graciously models window #1. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas graciously models window #1. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I then had to figure out how to hang them. I didn’t see any chain around that I liked, so I used some left-over yarn from a scarf I knitted for my sister-in-law and double knitted some rope. In Diez I found key rings to hang them from hooks in the show.

The wave. This piece has sold. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The wave. This piece has sold. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The face finished. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The face finished. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So yeah, they’re weird and very different from what I would have created in my comfort zone at home. I’m happy with how they turned out and they’re very interesting in the sunlight. The wave has sold already from a social media posting and I’m hoping the other two find good homes at the show. After my painting show at Art Impressions Gallery in Bremerhaven on April 27th, I’m hoping to make more.

Dragonfly in the studio. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Dragonfly in the studio. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Ready to go. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Ready to go. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

BicycleDAM!

Not quite 4:00pm in Amsterdam a few days before Christmas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
 Amsterdam a few days before Christmas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Look out! Don’t cross yet! Watch out for the scooter! These phrases peppered our trip to Amsterdam. The bicyclists and the sheer number of bicycles are bananas. The bicycle path is SERIOUS business. We were warned about them in every guide book and video about the city. Do not step into these lanes carelessly and be as cautious about them as cars when crossing the street. The bike lanes host motorized scooters in many variations as well and everyone is keeping speed.

Crooked buildings in a crooked town. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Crooked buildings in a crooked town. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I think it’s great that so many people commute by bike. It’s interesting to see what it looks like when bicycles outnumber cars four to one in a city. Parking for bikes seems to be a problem. They crowd most sidewalks in front of stores and on residential streets. Small children ride seated with parents on the bike either front, back or in a covered cargo bin on special bikes. I didn’t see many under ten pedaling in the lanes. Fun fact: They say that they pull out 12,000 to 15,000 bikes from the canals every year.

Wet selfie of Andreas and the Author in Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Wet selfie of Andreas and the Author in Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas and I met my brother and his family in Amsterdam for the beginning of an eleven-day trip. Amsterdam, gray and drizzly was wonderful.

Swinging in the rain... Uncle Andreas, Auntie Fly and shorter nephew take a much needed museum break in Vondel Park Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Swinging in the rain… Uncle Andreas, Auntie Fly and shorter nephew take a much needed museum break in Vondel Park Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I loved the canals, the tall crooked houses and the friendly, English speaking people. It was a nice break from Bremerhaven, Germany to be able to speak English with someone and not feel embarrassed about it. We stayed in an Airbnb with steep staircases, a little kitchen and giggling neighbors in the next house over; twenty minutes walking distance from my brother’s hotel.

My brother's wife can knit anywhere. Here she is in a giant chair in their hotel lobby. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My sister-in-law can knit anywhere. Here she is in a giant chair in their hotel lobby. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Thank God Andreas has a good sense of direction. I was always pointing the wrong way.

We walked past this awesome cheese shop. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
We walked past this awesome cheese shop. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The six of us toured the city and the art museums. My brother’s family saw many more museums than we did for the kids. Andreas and I are pretty content to sit in a coffee shop and people watch. We did visit the Rijksmuseum which I loved. It wasn’t very crowded and there were some wonderful portraits.

Stained glass in the Rijksmuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stained glass in the Rijksmuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A favorite painting from the Rijksmuseum.
A favorite painting from the Rijksmuseum.
The Rijksmuseum also has some wonderful doll houses.
The Rijksmuseum also has some wonderful doll houses.

The Van Gogh Museum was lovely too but very crowded. I did enjoy seeing so much of his work in one space. I came away with a new feeling about the paintings.

Peeking over the crowds at the Van Gogh Museum.
Peeking over the crowds at the Van Gogh Museum.

Andreas and I travel differently. I’m used to traveling with some bread and cheese in my backpack, a couple of candy bars and bottle of water. He finds the best coffee and has it ground for the Airbnb, he likes nice restaurants and orders what he doesn’t know how to cook himself and wine. In the morning we look for bakeries and eat fresh bread and pastry. We stay in safe, clean places. I definitely prefer this type of travel. Ha ha.

Nephews entertaining themselves in a cafe' with a rousing game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Batman, Bunny Foo Foo. It's their own creation. Bunny Foo Foo trumps. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Nephews entertaining themselves in a cafe’ with a rousing game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Batman, Bunny Foo Foo. It’s their own creation. Bunny Foo Foo trumps. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The finer restaurants have swings. Or should have for nephews. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The finer restaurants have swings. Or should have for nephews. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The experience in the city was a little overwhelming at times but wonderful especially before Christmas. Get to Amsterdam, it’s unlike any city I’ve visited.

Appreciating the architecture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Appreciating the architecture in Amsterdam. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum