Positively Richmond: How one local artist turns trash to treasured works

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — Sandhi Schimmel Gold’s paper cutter squeaks and squeals as she pulls down the handle over and over again.

In her art studio, she is busy cutting and creating with materials most people toss.

“I am a junk mail artist,” she chuckles.

Art has been in Sandhi’s blood since birth; her dad was a handbag designer while her mother was a painter and jewelry designed.

Sandhi spent years trying to perfect mosaic portraits with stone, tile and glass until she unexpectedly tried a new medium.

“One day my parents came over, brought me a paper cutter, a box of old greeting cards and said, ‘Can you use this?’ And then it was the eureka! Like, hmmm?”

Fifteen years later, Sandhi is still in action with a rainbow of unconventional inspiration.

“You’ll find stuff from Gold’s Gym because they do a lot with yellow and blue,” Sandhi sorts through a box of colorful cardboard squares.

She sorts each strip by color, and nothing is off limits. Junk mail, tickets, old calendars make up her stockpile.

Many of Sandhi’s commissioned works utilize cherished keepsakes.

“They know that it’s there, no one else needs to know,” she explains the gift she gives to the recipient. “It’s very personal.”

Sandhi quit her corporate job to explore this career full-time. She always enjoys seeing how people react to her art from far away and then up close when they realize exactly what it is.

“They get a big kick out of it,” she says. “When someone sees my work and they love it and have to have it, that’s full circle. It’s everything.”

Some of Sandhi’s work is currently on display at her studio at Art Works in Manchester and at Chasen Galleries in Carytown.

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