Visual Arts in the AfterTime: Turning Trash into Art, Part 2

                        WaterBirds (photo), Nubia Owens, Copyright 2012              


Turning Trash into Art, Part 2

“Thus humans should assume they will not receive assistance from aliens during this lifetime. Do not assume this easy path. Then should things work out, you can be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed.”

ZetaTalk Chat Q&A, Oct. 23, 2010

It isn’t likely that anyone will suddenly drop dead from a lack of art. However, we will have to rebuild our world, so why not make it as wonderful and beautiful as we can from the new beginning. That level of excellence is a decision within the head, heart, and hand of galactic humans. Mankind’s future will certainly reveal other things that have inverted besides the poles of our home planet. The post-apocalyptic survivor will brood over new cultural paradigms, even as old modalities resurrect from the devastation. All the arts will awaken with new freedoms and boundaries, evolving as they always have, into new apparitions of the human and hybrid-human experiences. Living artists of all types and ages, embrace obsolete methods as new techniques, as we gradually transition from tragedy and trauma into subtle feelings of security, confidence, and even prosperity. The return of being carefree like a child yields refreshing artworks in celebration of a wondrous future. The emotional and spiritual energies of everything we create faithfully expose the orientation of its makers. This blog explores how the Visual Arts may elevate the quality of life during the era following the Pole Shift.

You Can Toucan

Toucan Bird (photos, 3 views), Nubia Owens, Copyright 2012 

The following photos show how any subject or design will wrap around the container from which it is cut. In order to conserve time, energy, and to minimize waste, it was essential to visualize the finished artwork from all sides and angles before beginning. My goal was to re-shape the container into its new form as one continuous piece of material without the need to attach individual sections. Toucan Bird (photo), Nubia Owens, Copyright 2012

This approach works well when the intent is to make a flat shape, like a painting, resemble a three-dimensional form like a sculpture. If precision is desired, understanding the limitations of the material or medium is always an important consideration. These plastic water and milk containers are manufactured structurally with varying degrees of thickness and strength, and they are not forgiving while cutting. An area that is paper-thin can suddenly become seemingly impossible to penetrate. If you attempt a similar project, always be cautious and mindful when using sharp tools. Also note that this kind of plastic does not allow for the permanent application of ordinary glues, tapes, and paints. Of course, in the AfterTime current supplies will eventually run out. It will be necessary to discover innovative methods of coloration, and attachments.

There are at least a million websites offering lessons and step-by-step demonstrations on how to make every conceivable kind of artwork, so I don’t intend to go into detailed explanations in this blog. Online, you will find thousands of other examples of arts and crafts made with up-cycled and repurposed “trash”, created by artisans from around the world. Their creations include everything from tiny personal hacks to large vehicles and entire houses.

Everyone is an Artist

Most of the “artists” working with recyclables today are ordinary folk simply doing within their culture what they have always done since ancient times, using found materials and handmade tools to make the things they need and desire. We are wise to look to all indigenous peoples, past and present, to learn from their insights on living well in harsh conditions. Replicating exactly the objects others are making now, in sophisticated societies where we have virtually everything at our disposal, isn’t as important as cultivating the ability to create whatever is needed or desired later, when there seems to be almost nothing remaining.

Draw it out!

Diagrams, sketches, or written descriptions may be helpful in the early stages of any project.  However, depending upon ones circumstances in the AfterTime, the primary issue will be if pencils, pens, and paper are available. Prolonged damp and humid conditions must also be considered because paper must be dry in order to accept graphite and other drawing mediums. Paper generally requires special handling to stay dry, free of mildew and insect damage. Consider alternatives and possible solutions now. Virtually any tool that will make a mark, and any surface that will allow a mark, may become an acceptable combo for your artwork and writing needs. A future post is planned exploring homemade art materials fabricated from things found in nature.

Draw it within!

”Daydreaming can help solve problems, trigger creativity, and inspire great works of art and science.”

Living in an Imaginary World, Josie Glausiusz, Scientific American, Jan. 1, 2014


There certainly will be limited time available for all the various survival activities and the routine chores. The following practice may help to minimize waste of time and materials in whatever the endeavor. In the final analysis, mistakes in artwork can only exist if the artist of the work identifies it as such. After all, that’s why it is called “Art”. The exception may be if you are in the position of a student under the tutelage of a teacher, mentor, or Master artist. Under adverse conditions, artistic missteps and mistakes can be minimized or eliminated if you are able to “see” the final result with your mind’s eye, before and during the work. Try to see the creative process unfold step-by-step like a movie in your head, foreseeing the desired final result. Practice this with a variety of subjects, techniques, and materials.

Work Plan

Planning the work and working the plan is trustworthy advice for getting things done. However, in art making always consider the impulse to improvise, and allow other ideas and elements to emerge in your work. Never fear to embrace the unexpected and to integrate the unfamiliar into your original concept. Keep an open mind and you may discover streaming ideas, as if they are being broadcast by radio, television, or WiFi. 

Reality Check

Art does not have to look real to be really good. Critical judgments regarding realism, relevancy, quality, and taste, are all relative and subjective. There are numerous ways in which serious artists have interpreted the physical world, as noted in art history. The Zetas continue to provide humanity with a better educational resource and learning process that is functioning very well in our Earthly schoolhouse. However, personal adjustments must be made regarding ones preconceived notions and education of disinformation. Our contemporary artistic expressions should reflect this monumental development.

WaterBirds (left and above) is an abstract representation designed to suggest two creatures with articulated feather-like bodies, floating or flying as if tethered together. It is cut from one plastic water jug as a continuous piece. Abstract art allows for a more poetic approach to exploring and communicating new ideas. Visual art conveying information, especially abstract and non-objective art, may require a little more time to consider the intent of the artist and the content of the message.

Some found materials are almost like semi-precious stones. They may have a dubious value, but possess a special innate quality, like translucent plastic that has a mystique all its own especially when illuminated from behind and within.


AirPlant (photo), Nubia Owens, Copyright 2012

The abstract assemblage, AirPlant (left) is intended to resemble a hanging plant that is seemingly growing out of the air. It was created by layering sections of several plastic containers; each intricately shaped to resemble the stems and multiple leaves of a fern. As with most of these works, due to my self-imposed boundaries (such as not using glue) their final form is suggested by the original repurposed object. When you have many of the same or similar objects to repurpose, follow the example of nature by grouping and connecting the same element many times. This approach may be a quicker process, and may also facilitate a stronger structural design, especially appropriate for very large construction.

Plastic Water

Plastic Water (photos, three views), Nubia Owens, Copyright 2014 

In the journal, Science, researches estimated that every year as much as 27 trillion pounds of plastic enters the ocean waters from coastal populations around the world.

The above piece, Plastic Water is my attempt to simulate the bottled water that water bottles contains, by using the actual water bottle as the medium. The design of the cutting, minimum coloration, and applied tonality changes of the translucent plastic had to convey the feeling of a transparent liquid, cascading in place. That was a most intriguing and challenging artistic exercise of pure joy.

Plastic String

I accidentally discovered a hack for making very strong

emergency “string” using the plastic outer sleeve some bottles are wrapped in. Check for a seam and if it is secure. Make a small cut on the bottom or top edge to start the peeling process. Control the width and length of the string with scissors or knife, to coax it along as desired. Pull slowly outward and slightly up at an angle. If the seam is weak resulting in many short sections, try connecting multiple pieces using a square knot. Shoe laces, button closures for certain garments, and handles for a bag are just a few possible uses. Photo, Nubia Owens, Copyright 2017

Hand Bag

Trash bag to Hand Bag (4 photos), Nubia Owens, Copyright 2017

Another byproduct of my repurposed materials art projects is a handy little bag (above) made from a discarded packaged food product. Viewing the photos clockwise, follow these simple instructions to make your own:

(1)   Select a strong plastic bag like this one, which has a zip-lock closure that is air-tight. You may keep the colorful exterior, or turn the bag inside out to conceal the outer packaging;

(2)   Two small pieces of duct tape are placed over each of the existing seams of the bag just below the zip-lock feature. Using a sharp instrument, make small punctures on opposite sides through the reinforced areas;

(3)   Use an intact plastic draw-string cut from a useless garbage bag (or other material) as the handles. Simply pock one end through one side and pull the handle all the way through the hole on the opposite side; (4)   Fill ‘er up! You’re good to go in minutes. There are several different ways to configure the draw-string handle depending on the materials used, your individual needs, and your imagination.

Functional "Trash Camera"

Trash Camera (photo), Miroslav Tichy,

The taking or making of photographs does not have to end just because the passage of Nibiru ends the Digital Revolution, and terminates photography as mankind’s most popular hobby. The desire for a “selfie” will probably endure even into the AfterTime.

The photo above is one of several primitive, yet fully functional, “trash cameras” fabricated by the visionary Czech photographer and painter, Miroslav Tichy, who died in 2011 at the age of 91. It is made from a variety of junk, including: paper towel tubes, thread spools, rubber bands, tin cans, and children’s eyeglass lenses. Tichy also used equally primitive processing and printing techniques but with impressive results.

Photo, Ibn Al Haytham Camera Obscura,

Camera Obscura

Human eyesight and memory can be frail and unreliable at accurately recording things as they exist. Images had to be created by hand and by “eyeballing” subjects in order to create hyper-realistic paintings and sculptures of various life-forms, famous people, life-styles, and historical events, as documentation for posterity.

The first known mention of the basic principles for photography is in an Arabian manuscript attributed to the 10th century, over a millennium ago. However, there are theories that imagery projected through a tiny hole in the cloth or animal skin of a tent was used by cave painters as early as the paleolithic era. In the late 13th century that technology took the form of the camera obscura, an instrument the size of a small room, used to temporarily project (but not print) images onto a wall, canvas cloth, or piece of paper.  Camera technology was secretly utilized by Renaissance artists, like Leonardo and Michelangelo, as a mechanical aid to their realistic drawing and painting, a practice which continues today. 

Tutorials on creating your very own camera obscura are available online, as are instructions for other primitive optical devices that may be useful later to some enthusiasts.

Modern photography

America's favorite hobby has its roots in the 19th century. By 1839 projected images as photographic prints were recognized as a new art form. With the practical and expanding use of cameras, photography accelerated to become the world’s most popular hobby, as it still is today. Digital photography was invented in the 20th century by a young man and the current Digital Revolution followed quickly with ever advancing high-tech systems of simulated reality, artificial reality, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

The photograph was expected to eliminate the need and desire for Fine Art painting but instead it gave painters the liberty to explore unique viewpoints, and to interpret perceived reality in ways no camera could approach. Realism, Surrealism, Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Futurism, and numerous other art movement ‘isms would later emerge.

Ms. Taboo (acrylic painting on canvas) Nubia Owens, Copyright 1998

For a very long time, the only way to accurately replicate reality was with an image made by hand and eye, as with my painting above. I am often asked if is a photo of a woman with makeup. Photography eliminated that need but not the desire. Some painters have continued the thrill inherent in creating hyper-realistic paintings using photographs as reference. Millions of people today use simple apps on their smart phones to make any photograph look like a painting made by hand, with no thought given to that dependency and delusion. Hand-made is becoming the new old essential skill.

Film Processing With Coffee

If you have photographic film rolls, you can develop them with coffee and a few other natural ingredients. The end result will not look like Kodak or Fuji but then neither does the camera. Only the most serious ones are likely to pursue the knowledge and practice of primitive photography and they should prepare now.

As a teen, I explored black-and white photography, developing film negatives, and large print processing in a bathroom converted darkroom. The first time watching an image, that I took, materialize on a sheet of white paper, submerged in a chemical bath, was one of the most magical moments in my life.

Four Basic Factors

(1)   The Film. All types of color films will become black-and-white negatives. Creating photos without film negatives is another matter, as is making a photo print.

(2)   The Chemistry. Experimentation is required to determine the appropriate film processing times and recipes for all the ingredients: water, coffee, vitamin C, soda ash, dish washing liquid.

(3)   The Equipment. Depending upon your level ingenuity, you will need a daylight developing tank and reel, bottle opener, scissors, measuring devices, clothespins, clothesline or clothes hangers. 

(4)   The Environment. Total darkness is absolute. If a darkroom is not available, use a bag made of a thick cloth material or plastic. Detailed information is found online. Photo above is a trash camera made from soda cans.

Perhaps as most of the world’s electronic gadgets and gizmos become increasingly useless, primitive methods of imaging and printing will once again become common. The hand, eye, ear, and voice of the artists will be needed to faithfully record life as it was, as it is, and as imagined to be. The historical art movements continue to evolve with the surviving creators. It will be a wondrous to participate and contribute to the shaping of a fresh period in the history of art on this planet. It’s intriguing for me to envision how imaging methods will rebound in the harsh years to come, and that for some, alien technologies may come into play.

Vampire Bat in Bird Cage

Vampire Bat in Bird Cage (Photos, two views), Nubia Owens, Copyright, 2011

Although unrealized to me during the period when I created these pieces, ZetaTalk had grown to a massive database of reliable information, including insight regarding some of our most popular myths rooted in folklore, and exploited by Hollywood. Vampires, zombies, werewolves, the Mothman, the Mummy, the Abominable Snowman, Frankenstein’s monster, Satan and the Devil, are all mentioned, along with others, in reference to their true origins, and relationships to more recent end time events.

Intent and Content

Often times the shape of a discarded object virtually screams to the artist what it could become. The bird cage and the vampire bat were each conceived and created on separate occasions, after making several birds. It seemed natural to combine the two in order to turn one image into a stunning statement addressing several issues:

(1)   Helping to save the earth by not just recycling plastics but transforming the material into art.

(2)   Visually communicating the potential for inhumane treatment of animals and people, even the so-called “bad” ones. One of my personal favorite Zeta saying is, “Do unto others, even if not human as the self.”

(3)   Suggesting that any perceived evil may be overcome with calm and thoughtful action, which may also be clever or humorous.

Images can be a powerful tool of communication, education, and motivation. They can also be used effectively as a kind of devastating weapon of mass destruction, as with numerous historical propaganda campaigns. In ancient times, STS aliens used the negative image of the original vampire bat-like beings they brought to Earth as a tactic to scare humans into a frightful orientation. That kind of stratagem is still being used by certain STS humans who control most of the trans-media storytelling and screen-based mobile technologies. STO visual artists can respond with relevant positive imagery of our curiosity, courage, hope, love and acceptance of  inevitable extra-terrestrial integration of Earth.

ZetaTalk Zombies

In her book, Finegan Find, author Nancy Lleida created a vivid literary picture of predicaments survivors may encounter during the Aftertime. Her story includes a realistic episode involving the dreaded zombie attack by urban cannibals, driven by starvation induced insanity. The Zetas use imagery to draw attention to another form of human mental malfunctioning that potentially may afflict some of us now:

“There are a thousand variations on every piece of advice we give…” 

“Will those following ZetaTalk become like zombies

looking to the Zetas for advice on every step they make?”

(ZetaTalk Chat Q&A, Dec. 18, 2010)

Attempting to calculate, evaluate, and anticipate every single possibility and contingency, with the expectation that aliens will answer an endless stream of variations on the same questions, as we await the passage of Planet X, can only end in frustration. Rather than continue to struggle with doubt, fear, and insecurity, cultivate a strong positive attitude with the confidence that there is always a creative solution to any situation.

For those who are creative, innovative, adventurous, life-long learners, multi-talented, multi-disciplined, self-starters, and self-improvement “fanatics”, the time has come to shine. Being a Jack-of-all-trades and a master of some is now a good thing.

Frankenstein Dolls

Doll Mobile (photo), Nubia Owens, Copyright 1981

On a mission to serve in southern India, I was invited to stay for a brief period at a girl’s orphanage in a suburb of Cochin. Soon after my arrival, a huge cardboard box was dragged from a dark closet. “See what you can do with this,” the orphanage Director commanded with a sly smile on her face, as she quickly disappeared. Inside the dusty box, I found all sorts of old body parts of various shapes, sizes and colors. There were torsos, limbs, and heads, but not a complete set to resurrect one whole doll. Imagine a child having just a doll head to play with. The impetus to do something was extremely strong but the broken and discarded toys posed a formidable challenge. However, my first idea, although weird, seemed like the only obvious solution.

After some inner debate, I determined that the best and fasted course of action was to make mobiles, free-moving hanging art forms. From scavenging around the building, I found some string, wire clothes hangers, and basic tools. Suspended almost anywhere, the gentle kinetic movement of the cartoon-like floating dolls could be quite calming, plus the children could nudge them along to create momentary arrangements.

A sense of humor can add an uplifting presence to artwork dealing with an edgy theme or approach. For instance, the entertainment industry within the United States has a long history of war comedies. Obviously, one must be sensitive to the people in each situation, especially when there are children involved. This particular artwork may not seem appropriate in another setting or occasion. Some adults will certainly think it bizarre but at that time and place, the orphaned girls thought it was very funny, and so did I.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress (photo), Nubia Owens, Copyright 1981 

My final project at the orphanage was the most challenging and serious— to design and build a therapeutic exercise platform for a small child recovering from leg paralysis and atrophy. Drawing upon a variety of life-long learning experiences, and a much diversified skill-set, I soon came up with a plan according to the specific needs of the child, the potential needs of other children, and the current resources of the orphanage.

All earthly fabrications and human creations share some combination of the same Principles of Art and the Elements of Design, observed, theorized, and practiced in all cultures around the world. I suspect that these basic artistic qualities are found, in one form or another, in the artwork of numerous galactic cultures, just as “sentience is concomitant with life itself throughout the Universe”, revealed by the Zetas.


The Gathering

 The Gathering (photo), Nubia Owens, Copyright 2014

Outdoor installation at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, Sedona, Arizona

This public installation of The Gathering was the culmination of the many variations of my upcycled art projects. An “installation” usually refers to an interior space with boundaries but artists often blur such labels. An exterior “public art” may be indoors. The Gathering integrates into a grouping of trees in a garden setting of a courtyard.

As far as I know, no one has done anything like this before. The other-worldly alien quality of these designs was not fully realized until they were attached high onto these old living trees in a real life setting. Like the smaller creations, each of these is cut as one continuous piece, and in the daylight, their texture surprisingly resembled frosted glass.

Life of the Artist

In the hierarchy of survival gear, it isn’t likely that doomsday “preppers” will include on their extensive checklists, a watercolor set or even a box of crayons. Such seems to be the prevailing pessimistic attitude on the numerous websites I have visited. In my opinion, the essential supplies stored away for a post-apocalyptic world of doom and gloom need not preclude all the alternative items for self-expression. Such things are signs of an informed optimism. Although considered by some to be unnecessary, they will prove to be essential to our overall well-being.

A human life is like a work of art. There are indeed many diverse elements being arranged and manipulated to make something unique, perhaps even a thing of beauty. As in the process of creating a masterpiece, a life time can be an intricate and complicated process of transformation until that work of art is considered finished, or terminated. Along the way, it may be exhibited, or hidden; valued, or trashed; restored, and in the “end”, repurposed or reincarnated into the new.

An ancient man of wisdom once made an astute observation and proclaimed, “There is nothing new under the sun” but those living today have not consciously seen everything under two suns.

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Comment by Matt B on June 21, 2017 at 5:15pm

Stunning artwork, Willa, and a beautifully presented blog post!

So much potential for improvisation, creativity and positive expression in the Aftertime. Thank you for reminding us of our need for emotional nourishment, as much as physical nourishment, as we consider the challenges ahead.

"An ancient man of wisdom once made an astute observation and proclaimed, “There is nothing new under the sun” but those living today have not consciously seen everything under two suns."


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