Houston Furniture Bank’s Mattress Recycling Center has been operating since 2013. It is one of two social businesses that help to sustain the nonprofit’s operating costs. At the Center, used mattresses and their components are sorted, baled, and resold.

Nearly 1,000 mattresses are recycled every month, many of which would have ended up in landfills instead. This keeps 23 cubic feet of materials from the landfill for every mattress recycled. It is estimated that approximately 600,000 mattresses are discarded into Houston-area landfills annually, many of which could be recycled instead.

Recently, artist Claire Drennan found an innovative and creative use for the metal coils that results from the recycling process – she used them to create a piece of art entitled Sprung. Below is a first-person account of what inspired her, as well as photos of the artwork by Macon Leiper.

“Sprung” By Claire Drennan

I am a Houston-based fiber artist, working with knit structure and striving towards an ecologically-sustainable practice. I am a great fan of the work the Houston Furniture Bank does for our community, particularly the way in which they help make our city more sustainable by providing mattress recycling and offering quality furniture secondhand to those who have a great use for is. Upon visiting the campus, I was captivated by a unique material that is a product of the mattress recycling program.  Tucked inside of some luxury spring mattresses, there are fascinating accordions of springs, connected by cloth. They bend in interesting directions and are beautiful in and of themselves.

I have since been exploring ways to use this material that allow people to interact with the work and explore its potential energy. As a part of this exploration, I have recently completed a piece, titled Sprung.

Sprung invites observers to engage in play, exploring its different sides and shapes, moving the piece into different positions. Six feet long and twelve inches across, it is covered in a tapestry of stretch knits, composed of up-cycled clothing, also donated here in Houston.

This is the first of several pieces which together will create a playground that invokes the outdoor play of childhood, celebrating the natural world and the creative life of people. The use of up-cycled materials is intrinsic to these themes. The work is an exuberantly optimistic challenge to the issues of climate change, urbanization, overconsumption and apathy.

For more information on the Mattress Recycling Center, click here.

Art by Claire Drennan

Photography by Macon Leiper