Meet Monica Gotz of Woerh Street Studio has been turning scraps into unique one of a kind works of art, showing that every scrap has big potential, no matter how smalll. She turns scraps into book marks, bowls and pencil cups…..
How did you first get into upcycled crafting?
By accident. I’m a decorative painter with a lot of paint brushes, so I’ve always used tin cans and jars to hold my brushes and other materials. When I began crafting with decorative papers, I made dozens of bookmarks and started selling them in my Etsy shop. I needed something to store them in, so I covered a bunch of tin cans with a few pretty decorative papers and put the bookmarks in them. A friend of mine came over and said, “I love your bookmarks, but what I really want is one of these cans!” So the pencil cups were born, and I’ve been making them ever since.
What was the first upcycled craft/artwork you ever made?
Probably taking picture frames that were ready for the trash and covering them with decorative papers. I hate throwing something away when, with a little thought, I can make something interesting out of it. Sometimes at garage sales, I’ll find old metal or wooden trays. They’re perfect for playing with.
What mediums do you typically work with?
I start with handmade and decorative papers and combine them with all sorts of paper ephemera, like prints and illustrations from old books, old maps and stamps, gift wrap, stuff I get in the mail. Then I add gold and copper leaf, pressed flowers. Very low tech! I find materials at garage sales, in thrift stores, and on eBay, and use leftover metal leaf from my gilding jobs.
Why do you believe the recycled art/craft movement is so important?
Don’t we all have enough stuff by now? We keep throwing things away and buying new when there’s no need for it. Okay, so it may be more challenging to repurpose something, but it’s much more interesting to create something inventive and unique than to follow the crowd. More creativity, less garbage. Sounds good to me.
What kind of music do you listen to while you craft, give up your top 5 songs…
Since I’m hooked on National Public Radio, I’m usually listening to the radio or to a podcast of a show, maybe “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” or “This Splendid Table.” Lately I’ve been thinking about our food supply, so it’s been podcasts from The Compassionate Cooks.
Describe your studio to us…
I live in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, so the word “compact” would be appropriate. A few years ago, I designed a built-in for my living room that a cabinet maker then made for me. It has two 4-foot wide work desks, one a wet desk for my decorative painting, and the other a dry desk for crafting and paperwork. My decorative papers live in adjacent file drawers and on two shelves. Below the work desks are cupboards to hold supplies, and above are book cases. Both desks fold up so everything disappears at the end of the day and it looks like a living room again.
Who are a few of the artist you look up to?
I like artists whose art is childlike, playful, inventive and witty, like Joseph Cornell, Alexander Calder and Paul Klee. I’m also interested in low-tech and lost technique photography and admire Chuck Close’s daguerreotype portraits, Sally Mann’s wet plate collodion landscapes and the pinhole photos of Ruth Thorne-Thomsen.
What helps inspire you when you are having a dry-spell?
If I’m feeling stuck, I put down whatever I’m working on and get out of the apartment. Go to a museum, wander around the park, take my camera and shoot a bunch of pictures, cook something with my boyfriend, go to the art store and rummage through their papers, hit garage sales and find cool stuff, wander on the beach, read a book. If I get away from whatever is frustrating me, my brain churns it around and solves it while I’m doing something else, and when I sit back down, everything flows again.
Why do you think homemade art/craft is so important?
Craft is important because it connects people with their own passions and talents, and then it connects us to one another. It’s easy to buy mass-produced items. It takes training, focus and dedication to develop our eyes and abilities, and a lot of skill to create unique, beautiful things. Handmade craft connects me to what I call “my tribe,” others who feel the same pull to work with their hands and value the outcome.
What is one thing no one would guess about you?
As a yoga nerd who eats a ridiculously healthy diet, most of my friends are shocked by my love affair with strawberry flavored Twizzlers.
Monica Tatjana Götz
Woerth Street Studio
205 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10075
for beautiful handmade gifts,
please visit my online shop