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Three freebie materials ideas for making mixed media artwork!

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Mixed media is marvelous because you can use pretty much anything as a material! Why fork out for things when they are just lying around for free?

Here are three of my excellent ideas for finding free stuff to make art with.

  1. Newspapers. Because I work with (posh) paper mache I use a ton of newspapers. Thankfully there are plenty of newspapers in the world offering a ready supply, but you can't just grab some from a newsagents or raid someones recycling bin without getting into trouble with the law. Once people know that you need them there is less of a supply issue, but if you are just getting started and wondering where to get a quantity I suggest using Freecycle or related swap sites. I recently did a shout out on this platform as I was running low and now have made aquaintance with a lovely lady called Diane who saves up her daily broadsheets for me and we both get a nice chat into the bargain!

  2. Wood. I have small shed in my garden in which I store all the salvage materials that I have obtained for free in my travels. I have various methods of finding useful materials for sculptural purposes which you can access in the Ministry, but a top tip is to search "free to collector" or "free to a good home" on Ebay. You will often find generous piles of scrap wood offered for nothing in exchange for you clearing their junk. One persons junk is another persons treasure as they say! You may have to dispose of some less useful pieces yourself - maybe as fire wood, do check it's not treated first - but it should be a rewarding exercise. We all know the prices of everything are skyrocketing these days and wood is no exception so a bit of lateral thinking goes a long way! (Just for the record, my shed is also salvaged and cost free!).

  3. Paint containers. I don't know about you but working with my hands means that I am always washing goo off them, which makes my skin awfully dry. I get through gallons of hand cream in order that my sandpapery paws don't stick to fabrics like velcro... (nice mental image)! Which means I have developed a hopeless addiction to Astral moisturiser in particular and so end up with lots of empty pots. I also like to mix up my own colours of paint. But finding well designed stackable containers for keeping your paint in good condition that doesn't seem like an unnecessary expense is tricky. Instead of buying fancypants containers with lids from art supply shops, why not save your hard earned cash and repurpose your creams and even cosmetics containers, then you can buy yourself that new gizmo with the spare cash instead! Astral pots are great as they are flat on the top and bottom so can be stored on top of one another and the lids screw on nicely ensuring no accidental spills. The large lids also provide a generous area for labelling so you know what's in them! Just make sure you wash them out first with some hot soapy water or put them through the dishwater otherwise you will end up with some greasy paint! Astral pots are also great containers for nails and screws and general hardware which I also happen to have a lot of. Just let your imagination go wild! (Not currently an ambassador for Astral).

I have plenty more ideas and tricks up my sleeve for sourcing materials for mixed media which you can get access to by joining me in the Ministry of Mixed Media !


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