A central Alberta artist is taking off on the social media platform, TikTok with his art created from 100 per cent recycled materials.
David McAuley, also known as TheeUpCycler on TikTok, has recently discovered a passion for creating, and more so a passion for creating from used materials.
McAuley started his first big project, a polar bear and cub made entirely from recycled forks, in 2018. The sculpture took over 24,000 forks and 1,200 hours to complete. The sculptures base is made of 120 pounds of recycled concrete- collected from the previous location of the Wetaskiwin Peace Cairn after it moved to another spot in the city.
“This is just so new that I don’t even know what it’s going to do yet,” says McAuley.
McAuley started collecting recycled utensils from local second hand stores in Wetaskiwin County before quickly branching out to Leduc, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and beyond.
“I started to hit the city and go through Goodwill,” says McAuley. “I cleaned out Thorsby a couple times, the thrift store there.”
“We put on a lot of miles just to get forks.”
He says that he could likely purchase the utensils cheaper in bulk by ordering from China, but firmly believes that one of the most important aspects of his work is creating from locally sourced, recycled materials.
Now that the polar bear sculpture is completed, McAuley is creating keychains and rings from the ends of the forks not used in the project, which he plans to sell.
Currently McAuley works in partnership with Goodwill for utensil collections and donations.
As of Friday May 21, 2021 McAuley as TheeUpCycler has 104.5 thousand followers and over one million video likes on TikTok.
One of McAuley’s most recent projects is a cutlery dragon commissioned from a woman in the USA for her husband’s birthday. The dragon is featured on the back of the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club jackets, which her husband is part of. The dragon took McAuley over 500 hours to create.
The dragon also includes recycled pieces of a motorcycle that belonged to her husband, and his US Air Force badge, which the woman shipped to McAuley in Alberta. There are 69 chapters of the motorcycle club, two of which are in Canada. The chapter based in Edmonton, Alta., traveled to Falun on Sunday May 16, 2021, to see the dragon up close in person.
McAuley says he doesn’t know what will be his next big project, but he knows that he will only continue to create and try to make art out of what was once discarded.