Four years ago, Andrea Deagle spotted an old hubcap on the side of the road.
Having watched "too many" do-it-yourself shows such as "Trash to Treasure," she immediately saw potential in the wheel cover.
"I thought, I could make it into a sunflower," said Deagle, 53, who studied art at East Carolina University. "After cleaning it up, spraying it black and painting the flower, I was hooked. I began asking at gas stations and tire stores for hubcaps and did a rose and a Mexican-style sun face."
With the project, Deagle joined an international group of artists who doing the same. Landfill Art is an international effort in which 1,041 artists are turning automobile hubcaps from the 1930s to 1970s into works of art.
Finished pieces are called a "metal canvas." Most are painted with oil or acrylic paint, while some have been weaved on, glued or screwed or welded to, or made into fine sculpture, according to the website Landfillart.org.
Eventually, Landfill Art founder Ken Marquis hopes to publish a pictorial book on the project, showcasing all the metal canvases; then, he plans to choose 200 for a traveling show that will depict the value of repurposing things instead of sending them to the landfill.
Finding hubcaps for her business, "Rehubs," is half the fun, Deagle said. She sees them everywhere, often backtracking in heavy traffic to retrieve them.
Cleaning them first
"One day, my husband and I were driving to Newport News and I kept seeing them everywhere," she said, laughing at the memory. "We were in a hurry and could not stop. The next day I asked my mother, Anna Grace Foster, to drive the same route with me. ... With her in the passenger seat, I could pull over and she could pick them up. We got eight that day. ... Now she is making a clock out of a hubcap."
Each hubcap design takes about four hours to complete. Cleaning discarded ones is time consuming because they are usually very greasy and dusty.
"As art, they need to be squeaky clean," said Deagle, who finds Simple Green does the job.
Mostly, she uses cheap plastic wheel covers. After cleaning, each gets a spray coat of primer, followed by spackling in each hole and logo she wants to fill. Then, she sands lightly. Complex designs like stained-glass looks are first penciled in, then painted with craft acrylics. Each is finished with a clear acrylic finish so they can be used outdoors or indoors. Deagle has a sunflower design hanging outside her front door, using a Siding Cinch hanger for vinyl siding she found at a hardware store.
So far, Deagle finds her hubcaps in ditches and in thrift stores - salvage yards are too pricey, she said. Now, friends and strangers collect them for her.
"I feel good about the art because I'm recycling, repurposing something that may have gone to the landfill instead," she said. "Plus, it's fun and challenging to see what an old hubcap can become."