Melanie Magdalena doesn’t use her toaster oven for pizza, panini or toast — she uses hers to melt CDs to make painted flowers.
“I bend them with the toaster oven and being very careful,” Magdalena said. “After the first two burned, you learn how long you’re supposed to leave them in the oven so it doesn’t melt completely. I had many complaints about the smell of burning plastic. I was like ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s fine.’”
Magdalena, an anthropology major at UNM, makes jewelry out of recyclable objects such as soda can tops, computer chips and aluminum cans. She is selling her pieces at the ASUNM Arts and Crafts Fair this week.
The fair features artists from around New Mexico, including many UNM student artists trying to make an extra buck.
Magdalena said making money isn’t her priority, but any profit she does make goes toward her independent anthropology research and a free magazine called “Origins” that she publishes online.
“I want to be able to support myself, sort of, financially. At least enough to get gas to go somewhere. But it’s not something I’m trying to sell for 50 dollars,” she said.
She said companies that charge hundreds of dollars for recycled art defeat the purpose of recycling.
“The point of recycling is it’s material that everyone else gets,” she said. “Maybe they won’t buy it, but they’ll go home and make it themselves. You’re reducing the impact on the environment one way or another.”
But Magdalena said most people think she should put more effort into making a profit.
“My dad doesn’t entirely agree with my economic system,” she said. “He’s trying to get me to sell my magazine, but I’m like ‘No, sorry.’”
Magdalena collects all the materials she uses from her everyday life, and recently made computer-chip key chains out of her old internet router.
“That is the router I was very angry at because it had a poor signal,” she said. “I was like ‘We need to buy a new one, so I’m going to take this one down and make something with it. What can I do with a giant computer chip … let’s try cutting it.’ It’s very spontaneous. It’s like ‘What can I do with this?’”
UNM printmaking student Kaitlin Reese said printmaking is a more time-consuming process than some other arts, especially because she doesn’t have her own printing press. She said she started drawing in elementary school and never stopped.
“I was a loser in school and I hated going, so I pretended to be sick all the time so I could stay home,” she said. “I started drawing these little cartoons of me and my dog. At first it was just a knockoff of Garfield comics, and then I eventually came up with ideas of my own and started drawing them. The older I got, the better I got, and it wasn’t weird anymore.”
Reese also makes magnets with pop-culture references. One magnet on her whiteboard display reads: “Trojan: Vibrating Ring.” Another has the MTV slogan pasted on it.
“I have the magnets up on my fridge at home, and people come in and just love them,” she said. “I’m like ‘Look at this new print I made, check out this drawing’ and nobody gives a sh**. They like the magnets. We’ve been calling it the magnet trap.”
Across from Reese sat anthropology major Louis Wilcox in a booth he constructed by hand from stop-sign posts. He was selling handmade Adirondack-style baskets similar to backpacks. He said his mom made baskets when he was in elementary school, and he recently decided to get back into the art.
“When I was a kid, we used natural dyes,” he said. “We used walnuts to make black dye, and there was this little root called red ochre that, if you broke it in half, it would bleed just blood red goop. I’ve studied plants a lot, so I’ve been wanting to get back into that, but we just started, so we’ll see where it goes.”
Arts and Crafts Fair
Today and Friday
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.