Crafting art with aluminum cans

Kevin England, right, stands with friend John Elford, a community library manager, next to England’s aluminum can art display.

With a few supplies, Kevin England can craft anything out of an aluminum can.

“Years ago, I walked in a bar and saw a biplane made from Budweiser cans hanging from the ceiling and thought, ‘Oh, cool,’” he said.

Homeless, England spends most of his time at the Stevenson Ranch Library.

Originally from Ohio, England arrived to Santa Clarita five years ago wanting to be a musician, falling in love with the small-town feeling of it. After sinking into depression, anxiety and heavy drinking, he decided to move on.

“I had so much time to myself. I get bored,” he said. “So I just start making stuff.”

Starting with cans, England made a dragster, a bulldozer, a biplane and also a lighthouse, using a white Arizona iced tea can as a base. What doesn’t get used, England recycles for money.

Community library manager John Elford said whatever tool England needs, he makes on his own, using sketches to map out his designs and any working parts.

England sketches his concepts, detailing how working parts will function, before he makes his final product. Courtesy image: John Elford

Elford and his successor, incoming community library manager Arpine Eloyan, both purchased some of England’s can artwork. They have both worked on trying to help him get employed at the library, or possibly at the Glendale or Lancaster branches. Elford will move to the Lancaster Library, where he hopes to work on incorporating England’s art in their display space and maybe even help him find employment.

“He’s definitely interested in getting more exposure and definitely wants to sell his art, show his art, teach his art,” said Eloyan. “So there’ll be something really, really cool.”

Elford said another way to integrate England into one of the libraries would be to have him teach workshops as an instructor. While transportation remains an issue, it’s something England’s considered.

“Basically, I have Kevin’s contact information,” Elford said. “If we decide to do anything up in the Lancaster Library, I’ll be calling him.”

When he’s not working on a project, England watches movies or listens to NPR while charging his phone. Then he gets to work sketching his ideas.

“I’m really good with my hands,” he said.

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