Dryer lint urns are an Earth Day initiative. Out came the beautifully hued lint from the dryer trap when my little daughter, Sofia’s pastel clothing was dry. I knew dryer dregs could be turned into something worthy. The urns are created from papier-mâché fluffy lint -– it doesn’t require an MFA to make one. All you have to do is mix 2 cups water and 3 cups lint in a saucepan. Stir continuously, cook the mixture over medium heat and slowly add 2/3 cup flour. Keep stirring until the mixture holds together, forming peaks, then pour it out onto several layers of newspaper to cool. Be warned, the smell is rather … well, according to Sofia, “like hot old socks.” I figure it’s a smelly sacrifice for the greater good, but it may not be the best D-I-Y option for the strong of nose and weak of stomach.
One the first day of lint urn creation, Portland artist Marliese and I head out back to her hippie yard. It feels nice. Large sun medallions hang on the fence and art is alive in the outdoor space. I feel a sense of awesome sauce and the inner SE Portland vibe. I feel like I am an artist creating art. Freezing cold pond water works as the sluice which separates the sludge from the golden nuggets of whole leaves that we plan to use as binder material. She stuck her hand in the cloudy goo while I snapped photos.
When the lint mixture is cool enough to handle, form it around a vase or other container. Over the next four or five days, as it dries, it will harden over the mold. The dried pieces can be assembled with non-toxic glue or biodegradable thread, or adhered to eco-friendly paper. The fun part is to paint, decoupage, or decorate any way you want.
Marliese and I had asked for and received donations of dryer lint from local businesses and we turned out a whole line of papier-mâché urns. We named the styles after the businesses that donated the lint. For instance, “Final Ride Roadster” was fashioned out of contributions from the local auto-detailing shop. And we helped the community unload their waste, like the good folks at the Estacada Coin-Op Laundromat who donated 20 pounds of public lint to the cause. Ain’t small towns something?
Our cooked pulp tans in the afternoon sun as we venture downtown to check out non-toxin paint and rice paper. By evening we’re slapping the mash over a myriad of molds, such as a boxes, balloon and bottles. Many of the urns are made with a type of paper that can have seeds embedded in it, so once it breaks down, it creates new living things, and that is a great way to honor the memory of a loved one.
So why did two saucy broads spend their glorious Sunday mucking in the muck? Green Burial Education; creating awareness about the Earth.
Dryer lint urns are environmentally friendly, biodegradable and a natural demonstration of the cycle of life. We replenish the earth and the cycle begins again. Another advantage to the eco-lint prototype is that they are substantially cheaper than traditional urns made of rich hardwoods, stone, marble or metal. A great option for those who are on a budget. Sometimes when we lose a loved one very suddenly it leaves families scrambling to afford the cost of a funeral. Biodegradable lint is obviously very reasonably priced so this can take some of the stress off the family who already has to endure a loss on top of thousands of dollars for a funeral. With average funeral costs being close to what a new economy car costs, every little bit of savings can help.