Upcycle Inspiration: Fast Food Wrappers

For my upcycle project, I wanted to work with fast food wrappers in some manner. Ultimately, I’m tentatively deciding on building a sculpture of some sort – I think this will be one of the striking ways to transform something which we consider useless and essentially trash into something that is visually pleasing or meaningful. Generally, I would consider this project falling under a more Kitsch or contemporary aesthetic; meaning will be derived from the transformation of the materials into something that either makes a statement or allows for some derivation of personal meaning. I think the juxtaposition in the material and the form is an interesting way to incorporate an otherwise ‘single-use’ material; since fast food is so common virtually everywhere you go, I thought it would be interesting to manipulate it in a way that’s not commonly seen.

The theme of transforming ‘garbage’ into art is pretty common – the usage of mass produced goods and its incorporation into something more artistic or organic brings to mind the consumption of goods then discarding it that billions of people do everyday. There is an underlying theme of looking at consumerism another way present in these art pieces. It is from these that I have tried to draw inspiration for my own upcycling project. (Also shoutout to Brian for bringing up the usage of fast food wrappers and turning them into something beautiful). Below are some examples:

‘Sound Wave’ by Jean Shin


‘Red Goose’ by Federico Uribe

I plan on acquiring (clean and unused) wrappers from a variety of fast food restaurants and combine them in sculpture. There are a few differing forms I was considering: either a sculpture of something in nature, like a tree, a garden, or an animal (cow or bird?), or something more human, like an arm and hand, or a face. If any of you have any differing ideas, please let me know! In terms of structure, I was thinking of simply winding and glueing from a metal wire attached to a stand. Otherwise, a paper mache method might also work.


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3 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Upcycle Inspiration: Fast Food Wrappers […]

  • Hailee Pritchard
    February 2, 2020 9:24 pm

    Hey Kevin!
    I love this idea so much!!! I think it’s so interesting the idea of “garbage art” has become such an ironic part of our culture. Specifically, the fast food industry is such a significant part of our country’s waste and utilizing the waste to create art makes such a big statement. I don’t think you can go wrong with either of your ideas- it would be really cool if you made an abstract face, and would be fun to accomplish because you could make it super unique and nothing would have to be perfectly placed. I also think it could be really fun to make a diagram of different kinds of foods out of the food wrappers (and super ironic). Overall really cool project, good luck I can’t wait to see how it turns out!!

  • Thomas Buckholtz
    February 2, 2020 11:47 am

    Hey Kevin,

    This is a really cool idea! I particularly like the choice of fast food since it is so ubiquitous, and undoubtedly is one of the major players in the waste scene. I think you could also consider using the bags that to-go and drive-thru orders are placed in. Their additional stiffness/weight would be a little more friendly towards being crafted into shapes, in my opinion. But I do think the paper mache route with the wrappers is a good idea! I think a face or arm/hand could be a real challenge to truly nail, so I think going with something with a bit more of an artistically variable geometry could be good as well. By that I mean, there isn’t very many recognizable or alterable forms of a hand, but with a tree or bird, you could do a lot of different forms of them, including abstract ones if you wanted to.


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