Picture a colorful 40-foot Chinese dragon kite created with industrial-sized coffee filters each measuring 24 inches in diameter, or a double-sided wall hanging made of individual weavings of fabrics, beads, and ribbons on CD discs.

These unique, student works of art in the making are examples of hands-on projects created from donated materials and discarded items - an art teacher’s bounty.

Inside every art classroom, traditional art supplies of paints, colored pencils, crayons, scissors, construction paper, erasers, glue, and pencils are organized and stacked neatly in bins, cupboards, and on shelves. Look closer because somewhere in the art room there is probably a corner cabinet, closet, or makeshift receptacle set aside, protected like a bank vault, that houses the art teacher’s invaluable materials, or cache of goods. These tucked-away cubbyholes are typically bursting at the seams and grow commensurate to the size of the room.

Sizable clusters of probable art projects may consist of sturdy cardboard inserts, swatches of colorful fabrics, skeins of textured fibers, yarns and ribbons, bundles of bubble wrap and packaging papers, bins of assorted beads, buttons, nuts and bolts, metal springs and soda bottle lids, towering PVC pipes and upholstery fabric tubes, wire hangers and cans of mis-mixed paints. The list of collected amassment can go on and on and will vary from art room to art room.

In the Seahawk Arts classroom at Franklin County School in Eastpoint, where approximately 400 students are served each week, the teacher’s Art Vault is a treasure-trove of unconventional art materials waiting for young hands and inquiring minds to create personal and collaborative works of art. Anyone peering into the western corner of the expansive room may question the piles of stuff stashed away, but a response from the art teacher would reinforce a high value placed on unusual, alternative materials to help stretch the creative imaginations of impressionable art students.

It is to be noted that offerings of “cool stuff” for the Seahawk Arts program are greatly appreciated and lovingly received at the main campus, Monday through Friday, during regular school hours. The “trash” you donate to the art class may possibly find its way into creative works of art.

P.S. If you are not sure whether we can turn your rubbish into genius, please feel free to email me at lcountryman@franklin.k12.fl.us