Dave Hardell

City, State: Ellicott City, Maryland

Website: etsy.com/shop/davehardell

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How’d you get your start in recycled art?

I felt the need to explore using recycled products a couple of years ago. As a metal sculptor for 18 years, I have watched the price of new steel rise astronomically. This made me really think about other options for getting raw materials to work with. My dad is a mechanical engineer so I have always had a fascination with gears and machinery. At the turning point in my career, my girlfriend was working at a local bike shop. She started bringing home used gears and rotors that the mechanics were discarding. I immediately started tinkering around with the parts, welding them into useful household objects. I started scrounging around for more and more spare parts as friends and family were quickly requesting pieces from me. I eventually started posting them onto my online store and it quickly took off. I have expanded my line of “recycles” (which is my bicycle line) to include: clocks, candleholders, freestanding and wall sculptures. I also make custom pieces using customer’s bike parts, many of which have been through memorable crashes so there is special meaning attached to them as well.

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Where or how did you get your inspiration?

The idea of using something that otherwise would have been discarded into a landfill, inspires me to make more. The thought that I have transformed and given new life to a simple piece of garbage makes me think that in some small way I am doing my part. It started out as purely financial reasons for heading down this road but it has certainly morphed into a much deeper meaning for me. I love finding a load of scrap parts and scrubbing them clean, then sitting down in the studio and transforming them into something that someone will put into their home and appreciate every day.

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Any advice to those who are considering creating art from recycled materials?

If you have a creative bone in your body, I challenge you to make something useful or pleasurable from an object on its way to the scrap yard or dump. It could change your life as it has mine. Cheers!!

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What is the craziest or most unique and unusual or controversial art piece you created from recycled material into art and why?

The coolest piece I have made from recycled parts was a custom clock made from a stainless steel chain ring. I was contacted this Christmas by a woman who said over the phone that she had a bike part she wanted me to make something out of. Once I met with her and saw the bent and mangled part, she began to explain that her husband was in a near fatal bike accident and this would be a very important gift with lots of meaning behind it. I sat on it for a few days and just let ideas come and go; finally, I sat at the bench and just starting welding gears together. The finished piece looked like a Salvador Dali clock the way I used the bent chain ring as the center of the sculpture (it was showcased) with smaller gears trickling off the sides. She was blown away when she came to pick it up and saw the way a simple piece of scrap metal had been turned into a work of art for their wall. I got a wonderful thank you email a few days ago again expressing their satisfaction and gratitude for memorializing that awful milestone in their lives and turning it into something so positive. That will carry with me forever.


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