Artist turns garbage into art

    Thom Larkin | Daily TidingsMargaret Garrington has people fill bottles with objects that would normally be thrown away, such as dryer lint, bottlecaps and tea labels. She hopes to fill 300 bottles by the end of this project and is only at 60 bottles so far.

    Margaret Garrington wants people to stop and think before they put their garbage in the trash can.

    The Ashland artist is inviting community members to fill empty Looza fruit juice bottles with items they would otherwise throw way.

    Since Garrington began the project more than a year ago, two dozen people have filled about 60 bottles with all manner of things that would otherwise be in a landfill right now. She hopes to gather 300 bottles and then display them together at Hanson Howard Gallery in downtown Ashland.

    "I want people to be thinking about what we throw away and re-purposing our garbage by putting it into a bottle and creating art out of it," she said. "People say, 'Oh, I couldn't do this. I'm not an artist. I'm not creative.' Sometimes those people are the most creative. It's amazing what they put in a bottle."

    Windows and shelves in Garrington's studio are lined with bottles stuffed with Q-Tips, tea bag packets, aluminum foil, dog hair, dryer lint, beer bottle caps, eyedrop containers, plastic bags, gum wrappers, broken toys, pencil shavings, cotton balls, computer keyboard keys, batteries, gum wrappers, candy wrappers, corks, plastic rings from soda six-packs, wire and other throw-away items.

    Garrington said she doesn't care if people fill bottles with things another person has already chosen.

    She has more than one bottle filled with tea bag packets. One person folded the packets into pleats and stapled the middles to form butterflies. One bottle is filled with multi-colored gum wrappers while another is layered with silver and green wrappers rolled into balls.

    "It's just garbage, but it ends up being beautiful," she said.

    Garrington, who normally displays oil pastel landscapes at Hanson Howard Gallery, said the genesis for the project came when she felt reluctant to recycle the unusually shaped Looza bottles, knowing they would be crushed.

    Because of her concerns about the environment, she had already been committed to reducing, recycling, reusing and composting household waste. The idea struck to begin filling the bottles with things being thrown away.

    Garrington said anybody can take part in the project.

    She just asks that they not fill bottles with anything that rots.

    "I really need help to finish the project. I would like as many people to become involved in the project as possible," she said.

    Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or

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