An Ontario-area artist and budtender is creating sculptures out of cannabis packaging in order to draw attention to the amount of waste generated in the industry.
Spencer Charlton, who goes by Cratercrater online, says he was inspired to do something with a growing collection of cannabis packages he came across. Trained as an artist in sculpture and installation, Charlton got his first break when he was able to display his first sculpture of a raccoon at a cannabis expo in Ontario in the first half of 2022, giving him the motivation to pursue the idea further.
StratCann recently caught up with Charlton to learn more about his work.
What’s your background with art and cannabis?
“I currently work as a supervisor/budtender in downtown Toronto. I was born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario. I grew up as a creative kid who enjoyed building and making things. Art class was one of my favourite subjects in school. I was in the sculpture and installation program at OCADU (Ontario College of Art & Design University) from 2010 to 2015. I chose to go into sculpture because it gave me the opportunity to work in all of the fabrication studios and learn about the different tools and materials.
“My artistic practice has gone through many different focuses like painting, lutherie, furniture making, ceramics, and more. Cannabis plays an integral role in my creative process. I come up with most of my project ideas when I smoke a couple of joints and go on a long walk. I also use it as a tool to help me focus and relax while I execute these project ideas.”
Tell us about showing your first piece, “Trash Panda”.
“Showing my piece at the Lift Expo was a big milestone for me! I was putting the finishing touches on my project, “Trash Panda” when I saw the call for artists on The Budtenders Association Instagram page.
“By this point, I had been creating art in private for at least 10 years but had never shown any of my work publicly because of low confidence. I got my sculpture in the show, and the reception of my piece was overwhelmingly positive. Even as I was leaving the expo with my sculpture, people would stop me to take a picture with it. The experience showed me that the cannabis community is very supportive and welcoming and that I should expand on this idea because it resonates with so many people.”
What made you want to first take this on as an art project?
“I started collecting the packaging as a way to keep track of the products I’ve consumed. I had the unrealistic goal of trying all of the good dried flower and pre-roll releases. I was inspired to turn my packaging collection into sculptures when I came across a dope local artist on Instagram who goes by remixedbytal. She creates sustainable apparel and items by repurposing discarded materials.
“The raccoon was chosen as the subject of the first sculpture because I felt it would express the negative environmental impact of excess packaging and the need for sustainability in a playful manner that is easily accessible for the viewer.”
How many pieces have you made so far?
“I started making these pieces in March of 2022 and have made about 7 so far.”
Have you sold any?
“Not yet. I’m just working on creating pieces until I’ve made enough to display the collection.”
What do they run, price-wise?
“It varies based on the time it took to make, the complexity of the design and the application of the piece.”
How long do they take to make?
“So far, (they take) anywhere between 12 And 50 hours, including sourcing the labels. I plan on increasing the scale of these sculptures eventually and one would end up taking much longer to complete.”