Workshops Prepare Participants for Los Alamos Trash Fashion Contest Sept. 15

Los Alamos County Environmental Services Specialist Tom Nagawiecki and artist Nancy Judd assist a workshop participant affixing a CD to her recycled fashion garment. Courtesy photo


Hot glue guns, old CDs, fabric scraps and aluminum cans were scattered around the Fuller Lodge Art Center classroom as residents of all ages worked on creating recycled fashion for the Los Alamos Trash Fashion Contest coming uo Sept. 15.

Under the tutelage of Nancy Judd, an internationally recognized artist and educator known for creating couture fashion from trash, participants molded trash into eye-catching and innovative fashion. 

The scene looked more like a landfill than an artist studio, but with a little guidance, and a lot of creativity, a wide array of awe-inspiring outfits were created. 

More than 30 participants packed the two recycled fashion workshops held over the weekend at Fuller Lodge Art Center. Judd launched the workshops with an inspirational slide show featuring some of her trash fashion creations; ranging from a dress made from crime-scene caution tape to garments created from political campaign materials. 

Judd also shared some insights and safety precautions on working with trashy materials such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cassette tapes. 

“The garments Nancy showed in her presentation were amazing works of art and definitely inspired the participants,” Environmental Services Specialist Tom Nagawiecki said. “By the end of her talk, the room was buzzing with excitement and participants were practically jumping out of their chairs to get to work on their own pieces of recycled fashion.” 

Designers took to the sewing machines, glue guns and bags of “waste” to begin constructing their garments. Judd floated among the participants providing helpful hints. 

“I was so impressed by the creativity of everyone who attended the workshops—the kids and adults had equal enthusiasm and unique ideas,” Judd said following the workshops. “Attendees toiled away, creating wonderful outfits from material that society had deemed as waste. Fashions made from trash are a surprisingly effective way to engage people in thinking about waste reduction and recycling. The connection that clothes have to the human body, creates a more personal link to the idea of caring for the planet.”

The workshops helped participants prepare garments for the Los Alamos Trash Fashion Contest, which is scheduled for noon Sept. 15 as part of The Next Big Idea Festival. 

The free contest is open to all ages. Anyone can enter an outfit in the contest regardless of whether they attended last weekend’s workshops.

All garments entered into the contest must be made of at least 75 percent recycled or reused materials, that would have otherwise ended up in the trash or recycle bin. 

Chamber Checks will be awarded to the top designs in three age groups: child, teen and adult. Find out more about getting a recycled fashion on the runway by visiting

Los Alamos County sponsored last weekend’s workshops, thanks to grant funding received from New Mexico Clean and Beautiful. Snacks for the event were provided by the Los Alamos Cooperative Market.

The workshops and fashion show reflect the County’s mission to create a more sustainable community by promoting creative reuse of materials and providing an innovative venue to promote the three R’s of waste management: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

To learn more about the County’s sustainability program, visit


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