A mini blog-o-sphere lesson, but first a confession: I couldn't pass up A Michael's 40% off coupon if all my studio tin snips depended on it. While I never, ever, get tired of suggesting all the places artists can find free art supplies, truth be known, I also toss down a goodly amount of change every month purchasing what I'm certain, in the moment, my studio cannot be without. This too, can lead to free stuff.
Ephemeraville. Gotta love it.
Free supplies are everywhere. I'm not typing any big news here. Artists know this. As a personal challenge last March, I made this Villa Malamerenda artist book entirely of free stuff. Where it all came from is the subject of above-promised mini-lesson.
Paper--there are absolutely way too many sources to list! Go to any community event or public space in the U.S. and abroad. Search up, search down, search straight ahead, and you'll locate hundreds of potential paper art supplies. Crazy, overwhelming amounts. Here's a tip from my brain to yours on how to to make order out of chaos. Organize paper ephemera first by plain verses decorated, then by thickness. It will make choosing which paper freebies for what project easier, and will also help you quickly decide what to keep, what to take a pass on, and what should go straight to the recycle bin after you get it home. In this artist book, the paper and "book board" came from free samples of art paper, food boxes, ticket stubs, paper bags...see? I told you sources were too many to list.
Cords, threads and ribbons-- ubiquitous in packaging, some dis-assembly required. The "thread" I used to stitch the binding in this book came from twisted cord, tied around a bag of potatoes. Untwist and you've got really unique-looking , strong material you can pass through the eye of a needle. The decorative ribbon along the spine was attached to a cardboard cake box, ends snipped at an angle for a bit of flair.
Paper Adhesives---free sticky stuff is my personal challenge, probably because I like high-end glue sticks so much, I'd just rather buy them than engage my mental search engine. But engagement is what's required if I want mine ready to use, with no prep (by me) required. So I never pass up free samples when they're offered. Free samples of glue sticks are what I used in Villa Malamerenda. I often have to put my best think-outside-the-box shoes on to recognize free paper adhesives when they're right in front of me. From most to least common sources: samples of gels, acrylic paints and wall-paper paste from your local hardware store (make trolling the aisles of Best Hardware and Home Depot a monthly outing), craft store demos and on-line give-aways, and last but certainly not least, bargaining whilst buying can really work. If you're already a steady customer, ask to try some samples.