Upcycling artist turns scrap into lifelike animal sculptures

Most of us have a junk drawer at home — a drawer where we toss all the things we think we might need one day, but rarely ever do. While most of us aren’t quite sure what to do with these odds and ends, London-based upcycling artist Barbara Franc turns hers into art.

What is upcycling? It’s a variety of processes by which “old” products are modified and get a second life as they’re turned into a “new” product.

Barbara Franc animal sculptures

Inspired by the forms of animals, Barbara’s upcycling art seeks to capture a sense of motion as she recreates a variety of wildlife from birds to horses. These lifelike animal sculptures comprise pretty much any object she can get her hands on, from cutlery, door handles, and keys to watches, bass guitar strings, and even dog lead clips. She also scours sales and charity shops to pick up other items such as clock mechanisms and windscreen wipers.

“I have a huge cupboard at home full of boxes of odd materials,” says Barbara. “Most items I find just lying around when I’m out in the park with my dog, some from junk shops or car boot sales, and many things are gifted to me by friends who know I collect slightly strange items that most people would throw away.”

The upcycling objects she works with often inform her subjects. She explains that “an old metal washer or chain might suggest an animal shape to me and I go from there.” Barbara begins by making a rough sketch out of wire in the shape of the animal and then covers it in recycled tin or pieces from her collection of scrap metal and junk.

Scrap metal goose

“I might spend a whole day attaching objects and then take them all off the next day to start afresh, it can be a long process,” she reveals. “I strive to make each piece feel alive and on the verge of moving off.”

She’s always been fascinated by the shapes and sculptural forms of animals as they present a never-ending source of inspiration to her. Each of Barbara’s finished upcycling works perfectly captures the animal’s movement and personality. Squirrels are posed as though they’re about to scurry off into the distance, and cats appear as inquisitive, metal felines with perked-up ears and swishing tails.

Scroll down to check out more of her metal animal sculptures and find even more from her portfolio on her website.

Upcycling owl sculpture
Reclaimed art by Barbara Franc
Dog sculpture
Barbara Franc upcycling art