A short walk around the winding streets of Athens might make it seem like a small town known only for its party scene. But it is much more — it is a hub of creativity and upcoming artists.
With a keen eye and a bit of free time, even trash on the side of the road can be made into something beautiful.
Sarah Melaragno, a senior studying interactive multimedia, knows this best. She spends her time cleaning up Athens and turning the town’s trash into art.
With Melaragno’s touch, she can make broken beer bottles into remarkable necklaces, and pieces of plastic into stunning ashtrays.
For just one small piece, it can take an entire 24-hour process of mixing resin and hardener and waiting for the resin to harden in a mold, she said.
“Once it’s mixed together, I have about thirty minutes before it starts to get all goopy, so I have to work quickly,” Melaragno said of her process. “I use silicone molds. I got a shot glass one from JoAnn’s Fabrics and there are jewelry molds that you can get on Amazon and such. You just fill it up with the resin, put whatever you want inside of it, and then after 24 hours you de-mold it and it’s good.”
Melaragno began scouring the Athens streets her sophomore year when she was inspired by an art project in which she had to “collect data” somehow.
Around that time, she realized how much broken glass was on the ground in Athens.
“I thought it would be interesting if I did something about broken glass somehow,” Melaragno explained. “Then, I brought a bunch of glass pieces to my friends and had them pick out their top five pieces and write sentences on why they picked each one — whether it was the color, the shape, the size. Ever since then, I just never stopped looking.”
It’s not just glass: flowers, glitter, butterfly wings, keys, candy and even Juul pods have been included in Melaragno’s pieces.
Her work ranges from unique shot glasses and coasters to earrings and pendants.
“I actually really like her pendants that she makes.” Liv Danner, a senior studying criminology said.
Danner has bought many of Melaragno’s pendants, she said. Danner made a keychain out of them.
“It’s my favorite,” Danner said. “I love having to lock my door and getting to see it.”
Locals, friends and fans of her art purchase her pieces on her Instagram, @one_mans_trash__, where she sells most of them for about $15 and under.”
“I was actually kind of worried about selling the stuff because I didn’t originally start to sell,” she said. “I just wanted to see if I could do it.”
Melaragno ended up becoming successful quickly.
“I started making a lot and I was like, ‘Oh, well, I’m not gonna use all of this, so I might as well sell it,’” Melaragno said.
When she started her Instagram page, Melaragno was worried about her relaxing pastime turning into a stressful business venture. However, according to her, it didn’t become like that at all.
“It’s something that’s important to her,” Sherry Gabra, a sixth-year chemical engineering student and an avid fan of Melaragno’s work, said. “I think she really enjoys giving them to people and seeing peoples’ reactions to things. It’s definitely worthwhile to buy one of her items.”
People reach out to her weekly via her Instagram requesting commissioned work.
Melaragno’s favorite pieces to make have been the ones with the most unique items in the resin because they help her individualize the piece and give the owner a connection to it, she said.
One of her favorite pieces is a shot glass for a friend’s birthday.
The shot glass had a printed screenshot of a song and also included a key, a Jolly Rancher and more.
“All of the pieces felt so weird,” Melaragno said. “But it ended up coming out pretty good.”
Melaragno’s works have included ceramic and glass pieces from all over the world, from Colorado to England, to right here in Athens.
“It’s just so cool to think they can all come together and make something else,” Melaragno said. “I think of it as like little embodiments of feelings and the past. I really love that, because it’s like Athens’ history in a little coaster.”
@thelilyroby
lr158117@ohio.edu 

Comments powered by Disqus