Follow for more talkers

How this artist transforms other people’s trash into artistic treasures

“The recycling aspect of my art is something I’m very proud of but it’s not the driving force."

Avatar photo


Artist Stephanie Hongo turns other people's trash into artistic treasures. (Shane Norton via SWNS)

By Isolde Walters via SWNS

This artist creates intricate sculptures of animals completely made out of TRASH including plastic spoons, old ping pong balls and even unused catheters.

Stephanie Hongo, 35, embraced trash art four years ago because at the time she could not afford art supplies.

Now Hongo, of Southington Connecticut, has created over 100 detailed artworks of animals, sometimes screwing together hundreds of pieces of trash for one piece.

Hongo appeals to friends and family for spare trash and also sources specific pieces from Facebook groups to complete her incredible sculptures of lobsters, octopus and other animals.

She has used a barbie leg to create a unicorn’s horn, unused catheters as the antennas of a lobster and plastic forks for the feathers of an owl.

Hongo, who creates her art under the name Sugarfox, explained that she turned to trash to make her artworks as she was strapped for cash after quitting her job as an artist-in-residence at grocery store chain Trader Joe’s in May 2017.

She was inspired by Portuguese artist Bordalo II who makes large-scale installations out of trash.

This frog didn't start off as a tadpole but a pile of trash. (Stephanie Hongo via SWNS)
« of 5 »

Hongo said: “I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have money to buy supplies.

“I was looking at Bordalo’s work and I thought: I know I can do this, it appeals to me so much.

“I wished I could find someone to commission me to do a big trash piece but then I realized I could do it smaller.”

She began by digging out the trash in her own home but quickly ran through it and turned to her friends and family.

“I started getting stuff from my house like Tupperware and old purses.

“But very quickly I ran out of stuff that was usable. I asked my friends and family.”

Hongo has created more than 100 detailed artworks of animals, like this chameleon, out of trash she gets from family, friends and people on Facebook. (Stephanie Hongo via SWNS)

Hongo asked mainly for plastics as it was the easiest material to drive screws into, and the most durable.

“Everyone has trash, so I ended up with too much stuff.

“I have a mountain of junk in my basement now.

“I started to really fine-tune what I was asking for from people.”

She made a rule that she will never purchase plastics for her sculptures but she does appeal for specific materials on community groups on Facebook.

“I won’t ever purchase plastic - I don’t like the idea of buying anything outside the paint and the hardware that I need.

“I do ask for plastic tubing or old basketballs on community pages on Facebook.

“If I go down to the basement and sift through the junk and I can’t find what I need, that is when I go and try to source things from the community.”

Despite using recycled materials,Hongo resists the label of ‘eco artist’ as she uses spray paint to complete her pieces.

Hongo poses in front of one of her pieces of art. a giant peach. (Shane Norton via SWNS)

“I do find it necessary to tell people that I’m not an eco-artist.

“The recycling aspect of my art is something I’m very proud of but it’s not the driving force behind it.

“I use spray paint, I haven’t yet found another paint that adheres to plastic as well as spray paint does.”

The animal kingdom isHongo's favorite subject and she likes how nailing trash together gives the works a scifi, steampunk look.

“I just think the aesthetic is lovely.

“The trash juxtaposed with the animal subject gives it a steampunk look.

She spends between ten hours and two weeks on each piece and has developed a knack for finding the perfect piece of trash to build her artworks.

“Some pieces need hundreds of pieces of trash.

“I had a woman reach out to me when I was asking for tubing and she said that she had all these catheters that were unopened that she had no use for.

“They became the antennas of a lobster I created.

“I just made a unicorn the other day and I used a barbie leg for the horn.

“Plastic knives work really well for feathers.

“Ping pong balls are very commonly used in my art as well as a lot of extension cords, old telephones, old remote controls and lots of plastic toys.”

Some of her most popular artworks are sculptures of succulents made out of plastic spoons, a six-pack cap and buttons.

Hongo, who shows off her artworks on her Instagram @sugarfox_art, said that her artworks start at $300 with her eight-foot long octopus going for $5,000.

“When I do commissions, the pricing starts at $300.

“The octopus piece that I made I would sell for $5,000.

“The average rate for a sculpture is between $500 and $700.”

She hopes to one day sculpt a winged dragon measuring ten feet.

“I’ve been wanting to make a wyvern dragon for years.

“I want to make a huge one and I’d have to have the right amount of supplies.

“I would love it to be ten feet long.”

Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email [email protected] or submit an inquiry via our contact form.

Top Talkers