Let’s Chat with Artists: Aline Bloch

In our free online lesson Reduce, Reuse & Recycle, we show you how to create art out of seemingly useless items that would normally end up in trash. The bright pink art piece that we made was inspired by Louise Nevelson, a famous sculptor who lived in the past century. We recently had the opportunity to chat with a local artist whose works also use material that would normally end up in the bin – cardboard.

Her name is Aline Bloch and not only does she create artistic pieces that you can decorate your home with, but also sturdy cardboard furniture such as seats and tables, and even small jewelry!

Aline regularly works with the Issaquah School District and has been featured on King5 News. She is now creating  a series of online workshops and shared with us a bit about her cardboard journey.

If you have some cardboard boxes lying around, ready to be recycled, wait just a bit, read on, and see if you can use it to create something amazing just like Aline or Louise!

How did Aline learn to create these pieces? And why cardboard?

Aline taught herself! When she moved with her family from France to the US in 2008, all their furniture, clothes, kitchen dishes and toys were transported on a container ship, packed in lots and lots of cardboard boxes. Back then, Aline could not speak English yet and wasn’t able to ask her neighbors what to do with the piles of cardboard. Instead, she decided to make use of it – at first, to build a big castle and a kitchen for her kid to play in.

Along the way, she learned from books and videos how to work well with cardboard and started making furniture. There is a French word for this, a cartonniste, which is someone who makes furniture out of cardboard. Aline started with big pieces and gradually improved her skill to create small refined pieces such as earrings.

What does it take for Aline to create something new?

Lots of imagination, iterations and improvisation! Aline told us that usually she has final image of the product in her head, but she doesn’t know yet what process will get her to that vision. Her inspiration comes from nature (especially from walks and hikes with her border collie). She creates sketches and uses just a few simple tools to build the products – a utility knife, a saw, classic Elmer’s school glue, and (everyone’s favorite!) a glue gun.

It’s important to accept that imperfections are OK. For example, one of her armchairs ended up with two different arms. Aline could have cut them to be exactly the same, but instead improvised, added a bit of a wave to the bigger arm, and ended up with a unique, yet comfortable armchair.

Aline’s favorite personal piece of her art is a cardboard dress, which took multiple iterations in life-sized and small versions, and looks beautiful!

As a child, did Aline think that she would become an artist?

Not at all! As a child, she wanted to be a teacher and a ballerina. It was only when she grew up that she created her first piece of art, a Japanese-inspired stool that she painted bright yellow – yup, that’s the one in the picture above! But she still loves strawberries, green color (of which we have plenty here in the Pacific North West), and hummingbirds.

I have plenty of cardboard boxes around. What can I make?

With the help of an adult or older sibling, cut out shapes to build dinosaurs, masks or robots. Glue the pieces together and paint with any color you like. And send us pictures of your creations, so we can share them with Aline!

Follow Aline on Instagram or check out the Aline’s Cardboard website for more information on the upcoming workshops. Since travel is limited this year, the first of her workshops will focus on building the Eiffel Tower, as a family activity. Aline is also planning to provide kits with pre-cut cardboard for easy assembly.

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