The art of recycling

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Art created from recycled items is now a fast growing and popular niche, but Carlos Egan (“The Country Gentleman”) has been incorporating recycled items into his art for years. Egan’s Rustic Art was most recently featured at the 39th Annual Renaissance Arts Faire in Las Cruces. But, for 27 years Egan has been traveling and selling his work at fairs all over Texas and New Mexico.

“I go out into the desert with my daughter and look for wood pieces that have been weathered by the sun and rain..." says artist Carlos Egan. (Courtesy of Esmeralda Almanza)

“I go out into the desert with my daughter and look for wood pieces that have been weathered by the sun and rain..." says artist Carlos Egan. (Courtesy of Esmeralda Almanza)

“I go out into the desert with my daughter and look for wood pieces that have been weathered by the sun and rain. I mostly go where people throw stuff away. I’ve used wood from broken furniture, bed posts, and broom sticks among other things,” says Egan, who only uses wooden pieces that have been bleached and worn down by the weather so they have that “rustic” feel to them. “I love helping out my dad, it’s very fun to help him pick out wood,” says Carla Egan his 13 year-old daughter.

Each piece uses different recycled materials. “I always use wood, but sometimes I include galvanized tin that contractors throw away, cardboard, or old heating ducts that I cut out and weld,” said Egan, “I’ve found leather gloves that I transformed into a lumberyard machine and I’ve used old clothes to make little dresses for the dress shops.”

Every tiny building tells a story: each miniature takes several hours of detailed work with intricate carvings so viewers can see into the buildings and find the other side of the story. Egan carves little dogs placed outside a pet shop and makes medicine cabinets and medicines from scratch for the hospital. Each component of the building is hand-made. Every piece is unique since no two pieces of wood are alike. Egan even goes corporate, “I’ve done a Wal-Mart, a Philips Company and a little town that included the El Paso Times and the famous Popular Dry Good Store… if you want a custom piece, providing me with a photo of the scene you want is the best way for me to replicate it.”

Artist Carlos Egan shows one of his unique creations. (Courtesy of Esmeralda Almanza).

Artist Carlos Egan shows one of his unique creations. (Courtesy of Esmeralda Almanza).

Simple pieces like the Socorro Mission, a popular item in Egan’s booth, can cost as little as $15 dollars. But you’ll also see the other Missions, The Alamo, maybe even a familiar building or two from a Clint Eastwood movie: “I get my inspiration from western movies, postcards, old magazines and sometimes my own imagination,” said Egan.

Almost 30 years ago, it took a phone book photo of a windmill to jumpstart Egan’s imagination and future business. “When I saw the photo of the windmill I decided to do wall hangings,” said Egan, but it was actually his father who taught him the craft, “when I was little my dad taught me how to cut stuff out…as I grew, I took on bigger projects — roll top desks, gun cabinets, coffee tables and spinning wheels.”

You can find Carlos Egan’s rustic art at fairs around El Paso, Las Cruces, Ruidoso, Cloudcroft, and Alamogordo. To place an order he can be contacted at (915) 857-3273.

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Editor’s note: This article was previously published on Las Cruces Sun-News.

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  1. Wow, awesome work. I love the idea of recycling plain old junk into something useful. It is good to see such beauty coming out of junk. Keep it up.

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