Works of art made from waste

The artwork “Girl” made of sedge, egg shells, gravel and jute.

Contemplating unique and beautiful artworks displayed in luxurious shops, few people think these treasures are made from things that people consider rubbish, such as egg shells, tree roots, straw, dried grass, wood chops, shredded paper and other waste products.

Originating from the idea of using materials that could be found everywhere and giving them new value through art, three students – Nguyen Dinh Quan, Tran Huyen Chi and Nguyen Thu Thao – decided to collaborate in making art together and established a group named “Ourway”. Their business project, OurWay Shop, received the consolation prize in the Kawai Business Start-up Contest in 2009 held by the Future Enterprise Club and the Foreign Trade University. They also received the first prize in the Beginning a Career Competition in 2010 held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Materials for creating works of art include egg shells, tree roots, straw and sawdust.

Members of Ourway group (from left: Thu Thao, Dinh Quan and Huyen Chi) with their art.

According to the group’s members, the work requires patience as well as skillfulness. To select suitable materials, they must travel to many places throughout the country. For example, they had to go to Thanh Hoa Province to find tiny shells or walk in pastures to find suitable grass or take scraps of fabric from garment factories, or wood chips from wood factories. Even things, such as dried water-ferns, dried grass and sawdust that mean nothing to most painters mean everything to these students.
Most of the creations have natural colours and every detail comes alive thanks to the combinations of materials and the methods they use. The sawdust alone has different colours, depending on each kind of wood and its texture. For this reason, some kinds of sawdust are bright yellow, while others are dark brown or sparkle like pearls. It is the same for egg shells. Duck egg shells are ivory white while chicken egg shells are light pink and quail eggs are black and white. Before being used, these materials are carefully processed by brining and drying in order to avoid getting mouldy and keep them durable.
To create a piece, they first must outline their ideas in pencil. Then they use a small trowel to spread glue on the sketch and place every tiny piece of material on it using tweezers. With their skilful hands, these students turn rough bark into ancient tree-trunks, egg shells into roads and new walls, wood chips and wool into lines of houses, coconut fibre and scraps of fabric into old walls and straw into yellow roofs of houses on stilts.

Some of works of art made by Ourway group.

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