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Salvaged Words

| written by Colleen Attara | 8 comments


Words are so powerful.  I know.  My studio is full of words.  They lift me up daily.

I am an eco-artist and I hand-script words and phrases out of salvaged plastics.  And I love working with people who understand the change that can transpire from bringing one word into your life each year.   I script lots of words for people who are part of this movement.  And I cannot adequately express the joy I get from each sweet thank you and the pictures that are posted. 

There is joy in every stage of creating these words.  

My hand-scripted words are cut from the salvaged sheets of plastic that are used to protect other plastics in shipping.  I love that each word has had a journey all its’ own and has carried the weight of heavy materials.   

Each word is delicately scripted and very lightweight. A company saves these sheets of scrap plastic for me.  I do not pay for the material itself, but I pay for each cut.  So a material that had no value now has value for us both.  And the person buying the hand-scripted word also feels good about the way the word was created.   

Each word is hand-scripted by me, and then cut on an industrial router. Back at my studio, it is sanded and signed.  I send it off into the world with a little hand-sewn tag and a personal message on the envelope.  

Because I work with salvaged material, I have two of each word cut just in case one is too scratched to send out.  And this is my favorite part. I take these extra positive words and prime them so they can be painted. And then I get these words out to children that need to see them. 

I know there are many schools and shelters that could use a wall with colorful words that say “I am strong, amazing, complete, radiant, beautiful, thankful, blessed and brave.  I shine.  I am enough.” 

These very words will go up on the wall of a charter school in Trenton, New Jersey this month.  This school does not have art classes  (they do have cello and yoga classes though) but they have an art club and these students will paint each word.  And my hope is that hundreds of students will read these words and believe them as they pass them each day.  This will be the first school I am working with.  

This idea to play these words forward came to me recently after a mom sent me a photo of my words on her six-year-old daughter’s mirror.  Every morning, this little girl looks into the mirror and sees the words “I am amazing” over her sweet face.  

This is exactly how I want my work to go out into the world, one little girl or boy at a time.  I believe if they see “I am brave…fearless…enough” as they look at themselves in the mirror, eventually it will become written on their hearts.  

The most important thing is to make powerful, positive words visible, not just for us, but for our children.  It doesn’t matter if the words are in lipstick or erasable marker or recycled plastic. What matters is that we can see them and make them a positive force of change.  I am so happy to be a part of this positive movement.


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Colleen Attara :: I am an artist and a treasure hunter. I make joyful art from reclaimed materials. I am passionate about recycling and keeping plastics out of our oceans and landfills. I turn these plastics into empowering hand-scripted words, flower box gardens that need no water or sun to bloom, and art installations in healing places. When I am not designing and creating, I teach others to make altered books that heal their spirit. I used to carry a big briefcase and have lots of meetings with clients. I traded in that corporate me to spend time with my children. That was one of my best decisions. All the art and creativity that was welling up inside me came out when I opened up a little door of opportunity. That door is wide open now. Visit my website, follow me on Instagram, and connect with me on Facebook.