How to Make a Found Art Figure

A found art figure or creature is a figure that is constructed from various recycled or “found” items. A found art figure can represent a human, an animal, a creature or an inanimate object, such as a plane. A found art figure is usually about 10” – 18” long, but could be smaller or bigger. A found art figure is made from scraps of wood, cardboard, plastic bottles, spools, bottle caps, picture frame molding, various yarns, beads, and other assorted embellishments and found objects.

Found art figures are small scale human representations which can tell us something about the human condition. All cultures throughout the ages have made miniature representations of the human form. My inspiration for found art figures came from an artist in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who made fabulous found art figures out of scraps of wood and assorted common objects. All of his figures had names written on them. Many had bottle caps or plastic lids for hats.

By making found art figures, we divert material from the landfill. It is a way to recycle common objects, and put them to good use. Your imagination can go wild! Many participants have said they never look at their recyclables or trash the same as before!

Begin to collect items which can be used to make your found art figure. Any small household or hardware item might be usable. Sort your objects. Use plastic containers or shoe boxes to store similar objects together. Construction methods can challenge one’s creativity as much as the items that are gathered. The first step in constructing your found art figure is to gather a sampling of various objects from your collections. See what interesting combinations you can create. Have a plan in your mind before you start to construct.

Put your found art figure together using nails, wire, hot glue or a combination of these methods. Hot glue might not hold heavy items. If your found art figure is built around scraps of wood, you might want to put the entire figure together using nails. This will take you longer, but will ensure that your figure will withstand handling. Think about making a base that your figure can stand on, or make sure it can balance. You could use small pieces of wood for feet. If your found art figure can’t stand up, you might consider mounting it on a piece of wood, or on a piece of mat board, so that you can display it by hanging it on a wall. Try to make your figure as sturdy as possible. You can use fabric and yarn scraps if you want to put clothes or hair on your found art figure. (See How to Make a Fabric Figure for additional ideas about how to use fabric scraps.)