Author Archives: Carole LeClair

“With Great Space Comes Great Creativity”

After Weeks of Preparation, Ready to Open!

Just a Few of our Volunteers, Board and Staff

That quote comes from one our many community members upon seeing the new and improved Austin Creative Reuse Center.

Austin Creative Reuse moved to it’s new 11,000 sq ft home at 2005 Wheless and we could not be happier (or more exhausted)!  Our new Reuse Center is big, beautiful and completely reinvents the shopping experience.  We have so many plans for the future and will be offering more programs and services to our community.  

Austin Creative Reuse could not have done this without our dedicated staff, volunteers, and board members.  Next time you are in the center, be sure and say “thank you” to the staff and volunteers you meet. 

We would like to sincerely thank the following individuals and businesses who helped make this happen.

Realtors:  Max McDonald and Kristi Simmons at Aquila

Contractors: Green Building Energy Services LLC, Wally Colvin, JWL Electric, Elite Systems, North Loop Signs, and Stripe It Up

Short Break then Back to Work!


Making signs

Move In

Setting up Fabric

Game Ready

Welcome back to Austin, Rebecca!

Rebecca Stuch and Amber Scardino

First sale at our creative reuse center in September 2015

Cory Skult (left) and Rebecca Stuch

Cory Skuldt welcomes Rebecca back to ACR, January 2020











Austin Creative Reuse is excited to welcome Rebecca Stuch, our founder, back to Austin.  It was with Rebecca’s steady hand and complete dedication that we finally were able to open Austin’s first Creative Reuse center way back in September of 2015.  We grew a lot that first year with much of the credit due to Rebecca’s relentless promotion of ACR and the help of the solid business practices put in place by Rebecca.

Rebecca joined the Peace Corps a few years ago and  spent  two years in Moldova working on Community and Organizational Development, as well as traveling throughout Europe and Asia.  She’s back in Austin for a few months reconnecting with old friends and what had been her baby, Austin Creative Reuse.  It seems we are all experiencing big changes with ACR’s move to a larger location and anticipated growth.  With that, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to leverage Rebecca’s experience with  business development as well as her understanding of our mission to bring her onto our staff as our Transition Manager.  This is a temporary position created to help us with the move to a new location and the departure of our Interim Executive Director, Cory Skuldt.   Rebecca will help guide our organization’s growth as we add more staff, programming and services.  Rebecca will also be spearheading our search for a permanent Executive Director.  We couldn’t be more excited to have Rebecca onboard.  Look for her around the center and be sure to say “hi and welcome back!”.

Bruce vs. the “Bucket” Serger – A Reuse Story

We recently received this wonderful message from one of our most devoted fans.  Bruce is a regular shopper and super creative!


Dear Austin Creative Reuse,

I love this place!
Here is a success story I had with a serger I purchased there recently. I actually purchased two sergers there the same day.  The first was in the “BUCKET” area where you can get a bucketful of goodies for $5 for the whole bucket or $0.25 per item.  It was a Hobbylock 787 with the following note presumably, from the person who donated it:
Multiple repairmen could not get this to work properly. Was heavily used and some parts are worn.  Sell as a parts machine.
Working Motor, Good Needlebar, Spare new Needlebar, Good Tension/Width Knobs, Extra plates, All Feet
I already had a Hobbylock 797 so I felt that this “bucket” purchase was worth it just for parts and accessories. When I picked up the Hobbylock, Hali said that there was also another non-operational serger they were about to put out.  I was interested so Hali brought out the Bernette 334D featured in the pictures below.  The ACR sheet attached to this one said that “the motor is shot” unhappy emoticon. Having done considerable work on small electrical appliances since I was a teenager, I realized that “motor is shot” often means that some cord, connector, fuse, or the like is open and the motor does not turn because it is getting no power and that with some work the 334D might be just fine so I bought that one as well.Bernette 334D Serger


When I got home, I looked up the Bernette 334D and found that although it is a venerable machine (read this as very old), people still love it and swear by its quality and reliability. I read all of the blogs on the 334D and in one I found a comment that said if your motor does not run, check the D2MSL microswitch in the foot pedal.   The foot pedal is not a screwed together type but a bivalve (two plastic shells) type and, as I was to find out, is not as easy as shucking an oyster to get open.  Having taken apart lots of laptops and monitors, however, I was undaunted.  I got out my un-serrated butter knife and a flat screwdriver, and after some contortions and multiple failed attempts, I opened that oyster and spied the “pearl.”  There it was, the infamous D2MSL microswitch.  I unscrewed the printed circuit board and in seconds with my continuity tester (actually a Fluke 12 multimeter set to beep to indicate continuity) I had determined that the “normally closed” contacts on the microswitch were “permanently open” just as the blog had hinted.


However, into every life some rain must fall.  I looked up the D2MSL swtich on Omron’s (the manufacturer) website only to discover that it was obsolete and no longer available.  I tried looking for a cross reference to see what the recommended replacement would be but was not successful in that quest.  Again, undaunted, I read the specifications for the D2MSL switch.  Three amps and 125 to 250 volts seemed vanilla enough.  On the Omron site I found a 5A 125 volt/3A 250 volt switch with a nice high rated on/off lifetime of 200,000 cycles.  I went to Amazon and ordered four of them for about six dollars, Omron brand exact model SS-5GL with the specs I had found online.


In a couple of days, I had my microswitches.  I unsoldered the dead switch from the printed circuit board out of the foot pedal and again had to face some unpleasant music.  The solder lugs on the original microswitch ran lengthwise the switch body and the solder lugs on the switches I bought ran crosswise the switch body.  The printed circuit board had the lengthwise slots for the lugs and the microswitches I bought had crosswise lugs.  I could not mount the switch the same way he original had been mounted without some adjustment.   I bent the end two lugs on one of the new switches flat to the switch body and soldered a piece of wire to each normally closed lug as close as I could. Note: soldering is a technical skill and there are lots of YouTube videos and lots of online Instructables and such you can go study if you do not know how to solder.  A project like this is not where you should make your first attempts for reasons of safety as well as for reasons of not wanting to get frustrated.  Even if you know how to solder, I would recommend lots of liquid rosin flux and solder appropriate for electronic use. Microswitch specifications include soldering temperature and time limits in order to avoid damaging the switch.  If you exceed them you may fail at your repair.


Soldering the switch to the printed circuit board with its wrong-way lugs was a challenge for me even though I have decades of soldering experience.  Mounted to the board, the switch was about a half a millimeter higher than it should have been.  That means that the switch turned on later in the travel of the foot pedal than it should have and the serger would power on at about half speed instead of at low speed.  I used some needle nosed pliers to bend the potentiometer arm that actuated the switch just enough so power would energize the motor at the far low end of the potentiometer instead of in the middle of the travel.  Now the potentiometer is at the low end of motor speed when the microswitch applies the power to the motor.  That is, if I operate the foot pedal really slowly, the motor does not quite have enough juice to begin turning when the switch applies the power to the motor.  Note that this is a stressful state for a motor and any serger operator should not dally at this point prior to moving on to where the motor actually turns.  If I were adjusting this foot pedal for a random operator I would make sure that the point the switch engages the motor would be at some nonzero speed of the motor.  Since I intend to be the operator, I will just be sure not to sit at on-but-not-moving.


So, for basically coffee money and some effort, I now have a coveted workhorse differential serger. ACR, I love the place.  Oh yeah, I said that at the very start.  I am still right.  Go check out the amazing things YOU can find in “Bucket!”  Say hi to Carol, the guru machine tester and to Hali, a machine tester guru in training.  They are super nice and quite helpful.  They love it when their customers find some really useful tool at an unbelievably good price and come back happy.
How do I know ?  A am one.  Serge, serge, serge…

November Craft Night – small zippered bags

We were hoping to introduce a few folks to the handiest of items in our reuse tool box, the sewing machine.  While not a full on introduction to sewing, we wanted to show how a few simple straight seams could turn a zipper and a bit of vinyl or plastic into a handy little pouch.

Vinyl and plastic is the perfect material to use for a first sewing project.  By their nature, vinyl and plastic edges do not fray unlike your average fabric.  This means exposed seams are just fine for most projects thus saving you a few steps.  Vinyl and plastic are also waterproof making the pouches just a bit more durable and easy to clean.

We have tons of vinyl decorator samples that are just the right size for these projects.  If vinyl is not your thing, did you know you can iron most plastic bags with an iron on low temp to create a durable material that’s perfect for making pouches.  Just iron between two pieces of paper to keep the plastic from melting onto your iron or board.

If a zipper still seems overwhelming, you can also sew in velcro as your closure.  We hope to have more craft night featuring the use of sewing machines.


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April Craft Night – Fun with a Glue Gun











This month we revved up a bunch of glue guns and  rummaged through the bucket section for fun things to glue together.  Everyone went a different direction and each creation was truly unique and absolutely reflected each crafter’s personality.  Next time you find yourself in a creative rut, come explore our bucket section and have some fun with a gun.

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March Craft Night – Origami with a Twist

Our monthly craft night always focus on materials that are easily found in our wonderful “bucket” section.  Bucket is a treasure chest full of amazing materials and absolutely the best deal in our Reuse Center which is just cram packed with nothin’ but deals.







This month, we focussed on the cool paper and tiny trinkets that are always available in bucket.  Our Crafter in Chief, Shiree Schade, come up with  beautiful folded stars, but then kicked it to the next level by adding just a bit more glitz.  What a wonderful gift topper, ornament, or just something pretty to hang in a window.    Sign up for  our Volunteer Newsletter email to find out about the next Craft Night.  Our Monthly Craft Material is always a surprise  so you never know what will be on tap for the night!


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February Craft Night – Slide Carousels and More!

If you have been back in our bucket section lately, you will know we have tons of slide carousels.  We’ve been searching for something fun to do with them and our Crafter in Chief, Shiree Schade came up with a doozy. 

Start with a slide carousel (or anything sturdy and round) as a base, and add just about anything else that stringy or shiny to create your very own objet d’art suitable for hanging inside or out.  

Only using materials from our bucket section, all the makers in attendance created their own one of a kind hanging fixture.  It’s amazing with just a bit time, imagination and a working glue gun, what you can make. 

So next time you find yourself at Austin Creative Reuse, take a serious stroll though our bucket section and find some inspiration of your own!

Our Monthly craft nights are open to all volunteers but seating is limited.  Best way to find out about our next craft night is to sign up for our volunteer newsletter.  The newsletter will also let you know about all the other fabulous volunteer opportunities at Austin Creative Reuse.

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Letter From The Executive Director: January 2018

Greetings from ACR! Winter always feels like a time to hibernate and to nest, to catch up on art projects and clean out that crazy craft closet. Thank you for thinking of us when you prepare your donations – as a reminder, here’s a list of what we accept and we welcome your donations anytime the center is open. 

Speaking of donations, we’d like to say a huge thanks to our business donor of the month, Hotel San José. In return for their donation, ACR will work with the hotel to create custom craft kits for hotel guests that help spread the word about our mission and Austin’s commitment to ecology and creativity. Thank you to the San José for your generous support of Austin Creative Reuse!

We’re still hard at work on the new space – we’ve toured a bunch of spots and have a few things in the work that we’re excited about. We hope to have more to share soon. In the meantime, as we prepare to expand the center in size, we’re keeping our eye out for cheap or free Metro shelving like the metal shelving we have currently. We’d love your help! If you see any Metro shelving available on Craig’s List or elsewhere, peals let us know by sending an email to

This is a Metro cart!

As ever, thanks for being a part of the ACR community. 

Craft Night – Message in a Bottle

Normal is the Average of Deviance

Here’s a great idea for a craft night among friends, fashioning urban Message in a Bottles using strips of text and materials from the Austin Creative Reuse Center. Crafters can pack their choices in little vials, jars and boxes and applied decorations to the outside. These beautiful little keepsakes can be kept by the creator, given to  someone special or, and this is the most intriguing of the ideas, toss that bottle in the urban ocean, leaving it to be randomly discovered and scooped up by lucky and observant passerby.

It’s super easy,

  • just take a small bottle, jar, box or container (preferably clear)
  • insert tinsel, sequins, small toys, objects or anything that inspires you
  • include a message which can be hand written, printed or even cut from a magazine or book
  • seal up the bottle and decorate the top or bottom for extra points
  • decide how to deploy your special message

What kind of messages can you leave?  These can be funny, sweet, snarky, pithy or wise.  Here’s some examples:

  • When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be
  • Turn your wounds into wisdom
  • Out of difficulties grow miracles
  • Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” ― Albert Einstein
  • All who wander are not lost – JR Tolkien
  • “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ― Mae West
  • A good friend will help you move; A true friend will help you move a dead body
  • Too many irons, not enough fire

And best of all, Austin Creative Reuse has everything you could possibly need for this craft night all in our “by the bucket” area.  We have lots of small containers, toys, decorations, magazines, scrapbooking materials and so much more.  Now decide how to launch your message into the world.   

You Scream

I Scream

I know you are but what am I

An Apple a Day

A bird in the hand . . .

Message in a Bottle



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Letter From The ED: New Year, New Center

Happy New Year! I hope that your holidays were filled with peace, abundance and the joy of community. This can be a challenging season for waste and consumption, but it’s also a time for knitting scarves as gifts, cooking for our loved ones and doing other activities that nourish our creative spirits and show our love through the act of hand-making. If you are like us, your new year’s resolutions include more creativity, more community and a redoubled commitment to a gentle footprint on the planet. 

As we look towards the coming year at Austin Creative Reuse, we are focused on and excited for the move to a bigger center this summer. Thank you to the 76 people who completed our New Space Survey – your responses were invaluable in informing our needs and priorities. Of the respondents, 84% of you are shoppers at the center, 25% of you self-identified as fans (we love you too!) and 22% as donors. Thank you to our one respondent who identified as a fur ball – you never know who valuable insights might come from.

Resoundingly, when asked about space priorities for the new center, more retail space was #1, and we could not agree with you more. Workshop space was #2, and a tool lending library was #3. For fill-in responses, the top priorities were: accessibility of the space/location, a request for an area to sit and sort through purchases before checking out, a dedicated donation area, and a library of craft ideas.

In regards to activities and services that the new center should offer, here’s how respondents ranked their priorities:

  1. How-to classes
  2. Adult craft nights and events
  3. Low-cost event space for rental to other likeminded organizations
  4. Summer/day camps for kids
  5. Birthday parties
  6. Special interest meetups and fix-it clinics

Fill-in responses about activities seemed to share a common desire for more adult-focused events at the center, since there seem to be a fair amount of existing options in Austin for kids but few for grown-up crafters, according to those who took the survey.

In our final open-ended question, respondents provided a few great suggestions that we will look at implementing in the short term (email notifications about flash sales! Posting donations wish lists on Facebook!) and we’ll take others to heart in our longer-term planning. We will of course take into consideration all of your accessibility suggestions like parking, proximity to public transportation and other important concerns. There were many passionate comments about where in town the new center should be, with equal arguments made for north, south and central. While we wish we could have centers in all three parts of town, our current search is within a close radius of our existing center.

Finally, we are so grateful for all of the wonderful comments and notes of support from those who took the survey – we are so proud to offer a service of value to you, our beloved community of creatives, educators and lovers of planet earth. We are so excited for the possibilities that await us in our new center, and we’re grateful for your input and support as we grow to new heights.

Thank you and happy new year to you all.  



Isadora McKeon

Executive Director


2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Tel: (512) 375-3041