Old soda cans are not something we usually associate with delicate flowers. But where other people see trash – recyclables at best – Chicago-based artist Christine Eige sees infinite opportunities. The elegant lilies and roses Eige creates from upcycled soda cans look so real you could be forgiven for leaning in for a sniff of their sweet scent.
We can easily see why Eige’s creations are so believable: she makes optimum use of aluminum as a material – utilizing its flexibility and often bright, painted colors – in order to make the flowers as life-like as possible. This one here, probably her most time-consuming composition, consists of five small lilies in pink and white, two medium-sized ones in white and orange, and a large orange lily that crowns the bouquet. Along with some cleverly crafted aluminum leaves (one of which displays the tell-tale logo of a Mountain Dew can) they are ‘planted’ in a decorative pot with real soil, making the arrangement seem, at first glance, like an authentic floral display.
Among leaves, this large purple lily not only looks real but also makes you realise that disposable, man-made objects can take on a beauty that almost rivals that of the natural world.
This Coke tiger lily was a commissioned piece that Eige did for a couple into anything Coca-Cola. Reworked as petals, the aluminum cans sure look better after than before!
This lily duo demonstrates the amount of detail Eige pays to each of her creations – from the stigma, the receptive tip of the style, to the stamen, the flower’s reproductive organ. No prizes for guessing that the lily is one of the artist’s favorite flowers, but as we’ll see, she works wonders with roses too. We wouldn’t be surprised if Eige had even included metallic roots below the soil just to make her compositions more realistic.
Hard to believe that this adorable little purple lily was made by Eige in only an hour!
All of Eige’s artworks shown here are made from used cans that have been thrown away. Even the plant pots are thrift shop rejects, rescued just as they were headed to the landfill. We’re pleased they got a second chance at life!
Take a moment to look and see if you can identify all the different soda cans the artist has used here. There’s Strawberry Sunkist for the pink flowers; Diet Dr. Pepper for the white ones; Mountain Dew for the leaves; and Orange Crush for the orange flowers. Eige also used Sierra Mist cans, Sunkist Lemonade, Coke Zero, Monster and even the odd beer can. Can you find them all?
Another wonderful thing about these upcycled flowers – potted or not – is that they make great gifts for the environmentally conscious. How many of us feel guilty for buying cut flowers for someone’s birthday, wedding or other special occasions? How many times have we also seen potted plants die in the ‘care’ of the horticulturally-challenged? We imagine both problems would be solved in an instant with the gift of one of Eige’s creations!
Soda pop plants need no water or sunlight and will last forever. A bit of dusting may be required occasionally (or perhaps some rust-proofing in humid climates!) but that’s about it. We’d bet if you mingled one of Eige’s creations among your real flowers on the windowsill, your friends probably wouldn’t even notice, and certainly not at first glance.
Although there is a playful aspect to all the pieces, Eige also wants to promote environmental awareness. Indeed, the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) are her mantra. She says: “The fact that my work is formed from littered cans can be shocking to some, but hopefully it will move some people to do good.”
“The focus of my artwork is to demonstrate the impact we, as a community, have on our planet. My artwork is here to prove a point, send a message, change some minds, and be aesthetically pleasing at the same time,” she says. We can certainly vouch for the aesthetically pleasing aspect!
On a more serious note, Eige also wants to point to the dangers that lie ahead if society maintains its current disregard for nature and the environment. She says: “My artwork can be used as a reminder that if we continue to fail to be responsible and take action, flowers like this might be the only ones left.”
And though these soda can flowers are certainly beautiful to look at and easy to maintain, a world without real plants would be unbearable – not to mention the harbinger of doom for human and animal life! But to stop ourselves getting too gloomy, we can rest assured that Eige’s creative recycling will keep at least some soda cans out of landfills.
This picture shows one of Eige’s upcycled works alongside its functional, everyday origin – the omnipresent coke can. This not only highlights the artist’s talent but also seems to be the very embodiment of the phrase, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.
Christine Eige is a graphic designer by day and a freelance artist by night. She’s also a student, majoring in graphic design and photography, with a minor in art history. For more of her amazing artworks, which also include hairclips (pictured here) and photography, check out her website or Deviant Art page.
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