Author Archives: Carole LeClair

Guitar String Crafts

If you play guitar frequently and happen to chew through strings as quickly as I do, you’ve probably found yourself wondering what to do with all of your used strings besides simply throwing them away—there’s got to be something to do with them, right? Right. Let’s run through a few alternative uses once they’ve run their course as melody makers.

Lately, I’ve found myself experimenting with making a sort of hair-plug monstrosity that seems to be coming together nicely. It’s a bit pretty, a bit bewildering, and a lot like Angelica’s doll Cynthia on Rugrats (if you’re a cartoon aficionado and catch the reference). This is certainly a long-haul project, and is the accumulation of roughly two years worth of used acoustic and electric guitar and bass strings!


If you don’t have the care or patience to wait years to put together something spiffy with your leftover strings, consider the following:

1) Use your leftover strings for arts and crafts, however your imagination permits! Be careful with the ends, which, if you frequently change your own strings, you probably know are very sharp! You can alter string length by clipping them down with wire cutters. You may then bend them, glue them, tie them, braid them, string beads on them, and so on. Be creative!

2) Hang pictures with your leftover strings. Just exactly how you hang the pictures using guitar strings is up to you as there exists numerous ways to do so, also dependent upon what you are hanging. A lighter gauge string (slimmer in diameter) is more pliable—while still having a high tensile strength—and therefore a fine candidate; on your guitar, in standard tuning, this is the high E string.

3) Cutting clay, like one would slice cheese with wire. (I would not recommend using filthy strings to slice your food unless you have sterilized the used string and are sure it is safe to cut edibles such as cheese or cakes.)

4) Make bracelets, necklaces, or some kind of creative jewelry. Keep safety in mind when making jewelry so that you know you are wearing or gifting something safe!

Reusing Old Pill Bottles

Sometimes, we can’t get passed the iodine color and plain medicinal look of these prescription pill bottles and thus we throw them away. But wait!…hold on to those bottles because we may be able to remedy this problem and provide you with some creative ways to reuse these and other medicinal “type” bottles that you and your kids will love!

Whether you are looking for a way keep kids entertained in the upcoming holiday months, or are looking for a great new look for your living room lighting, here are some clever reuses for pill bottles that I’ll bet you haven’t thought of:

Great light fixture created with pallet wood and old pill bottles

Great light fixture created with pallet wood and old pill bottles

Make your own Rainbow Crayons using an old pill bottle!

Make your own Rainbow Crayons using an old pill bottle!

Snowman Craft Ornament using a pill bottle and pipe cleaners

Snowman Craft Ornament using a pill bottle and pipe cleaners








Before reusing these pill bottles, remember to take off the stickers and wash the container out thoroughly with soap and water. If you are having a tough time getting off the

stickers, soak them in hot soapy water first.

there are also many more ways that you can utilize these handy little bottles that don’t require anything more than putting something else inside to help with storage and organization. Who couldn’t use a bit more of that!

-Pin holders for Sewing

-Band-Aid Holder

-Bead Storage

-Ear-bud headphones/ wires storage ( so they don’t get tangled!)

-Bird Seed holder when going to the park, kids can feed the birds

-When traveling, your travel size toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner will fit nicely in a large pill container and this keeps thing neat in your suit case.

-Diaper Bag Condensing-If you need to take some moist wipes with you for your baby’s diaper change, you can roll a few up and carry it in a pill bottle. It will stay moist.




Examples of Reuse Found Around Austin

A couple of extra special, dynamite examples of re-use in Austin include this Thelma and Louise style outdoor couch. The attachment of the vintage car doors to a simple re-used lumber settee, is seamless and delightful! You can take it for a spin at the Moontower Saloon down on South Manchaca.


The folks at Vuka Co-op have a great space for learning, connecting, experimenting, networking, and general creativity. These up-ended, rooted chandeliers are all over their space and pretty much made my jaw drop.

They are located at 411 W. Monroe, check out all of their offerings at:



Ubiquitous Cardboard Art


Ubiquitous cardboard.  It’s so functional, neutral and satisfyingly semi-structural.  It fulfils as both a 2-D and a 3-D material and can be used both as a maquette and as finished product.

While it is not ideal for a long-term outdoor sculpture, this artist is able to explore many surfaces, planes and angles beautifully with this material.  A front yard of a house in south Austin is the perfect place for a cardboard sculpture garden.


Usually scissors or a utility blade are all that’s needed to cut most cardboard.  Well, the new hot cutter on the block is the laser.

Here is the laser cutter at Austin’s Tech Shop in Round Rock at work on some custom thank you cards I designed and cut out of cereal boxes.
The laser is also used in Agi Miagi’s corrugated lighting collection.  Agustina Rodriguez is the principal designer there and has a real eye and passion for re-purposing.  The cardboard in these fixtures act as a pathway for the glow to escape, and really ups the ante on this humble material


Another unknown designer uses the edge of the cardboard as the diffuser, focusing the light and our attention to the internal cell structure of the cardboard.  This almost creates a “plywood” with the cardboard, which enhances its structure as well as its possibilities with your imagination.


Reusing Circuits and Old Computer Components

As technology advances, and new electronics/computers arise, we are left to wonder, what else can these very specific parts be used for? Things like the circuits behind cell phones, and keyboards, or even an old mouse. Circuit components like relays and resistors (the colorful electronic stuff that comes up off the green surface) can be cut off and reused as well.

Here some people have found very creative and interesting ways to reuse these materials! But before you go delving into a circuit board, just a word to the wise: Please wear gloves (for lead purposes) and you may want to invest in a pair of electrical needle nosed wire cutters (home improvement store) for cutting off components from a circuit board that will be flush (cut right down to the green surface without leaving sharp points). Other than that, let’s have a ball!



Component Bugs

make small bugs out of circuit relays/ resistors/ etc!


or how about a wallet made from a keyboard circuit!

Fabric Trunk Show and Sale Event at Fabricker

Calling all creative’s! This event is a showdown between silk and suede/ wool and white linen. It’s something you won’t want to miss. Are you a textiles crafter looking to bump up your project with beautiful fabrics? You might be an avid fashion up-cycler looking for that perfect pattern or bold colors to incorporate. Whatever your craft, this event will inspire.

Not a crafter? No problem! We’ve got you covered with a few great ideas for these awesome fabric pieces below.

Where: Fabricker  (4631 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX, 78751, United States)

When: August 24, 2013 10:00 am- 4:00 pm

$$ to go: Free

more information  (directions)


We all remember having to cover our textbooks back when we were in school, right! Instead of using that used paper bag from the grocery store, make a prettier, fabric remnant version that all of your friends will rave about.

book cover (inside)book cover (outside)






Now that we have books covered… which page was I on?

fabric bookmarks(resource)

Fabric Bookmarks for all of your favorite stories!

Nothing says “Party!” like beautiful decorations, flag banners like this one are easy to cut out and look amazing for almost any celebration!



How to Create Reused Crayon Paintings

Ever wonder what to do with those stubby, too short crayons with all of the color spots from other colored crayons as they roll around in the box? WHow to create Reused Crayon Paintingsell, you can Recycle them into Art!

In the same way that Artists like Vincent Van Gogh painted with heavy “chunks” of color. You can too with crayon remnants! By removing the paper on the crayon (If there is any still left!) and using a scrap or sand paper, color/shade on the sides to remove color spots from other crayon colors.

You are left with an array of beautiful colors with which to build a “Crayon Painting” with. What a great way to explain mosaics, the color wheel or to show how Artists mix and use color while using those old remnants of crayon you were about to get rid of! You can see the full photo tutorial to the right.

Van Gogh’s ” Starry Night” Painting replicated by Reused Crayons! ( reference website )


Artist Spotlight: Dish It Out!


Uh Oh.

There goes your absolute favorite, timeless, one-of-a-kind ceramic dish that has been passed down in your family for ages. What can you do with it now that it can no longer serve it’s function as a dish, but you love it so and still wish to keep it for sentimental reasons? Why not take a page from jewelry artist, Holli Brown’s book?


Based in Austin, Texas, “Holli Brown is inspired by old and forgotten ceramic items; anything that has faded or broken.
Everything she makes in the studio incorporates vintage, found, or re-purposed ceramicware. DISHES!

Example of Holli Brown's beautiful work!

Example of Holli Brown’s beautiful work!


She loves re-purposing things that have outlived their first purposes. She hopes that her work will be loved by people who imagine the adventures all these plates, vases, cups and bowls had before they reached their hands and that they might take them on some of their own adventures! Holli hand cuts and sands each necklace. Creating a very soft and smooth edge.


Holli hopes that the pieces feel like they have a personal history, secrets and stories from the time before they became yours.” ( Holli Brown: Dish It Out website )

More examples of Holli's jewelry at Creatures Boutique in Austin, TX.

More examples of Holli’s jewelry at Creatures Boutique in Austin, TX.


   How Creative and Beautiful! with one plate she can create multiple pieces of jewelry that have a style all their own, no one piece can be exactly alike!

This picture was taken in Downtown Austin, TX where Holli sells some of her art at Creatures Boutique .





Recap of Austin Creative Reuse Educator’s Drive

Earlier this year, On February 24, 2013, Austin Creative Reuse held it’s first Educator Materials Drive, which proved to be enormously successful! Educators from all around Austin, including school teachers (public, private, charter), after school teachers, daycare providers, scout troop leaders and more gathered to take part, share, learn and receive reused materials.

We collected over 7,400lbs of materials from the community and area businesses and invited educators to receive the materials to use for projects in their classrooms and programs.

In one day, we supported over 3,200 kids in Austin with free materials.

Examples of materials distributed:


Not only were these teachers reusing materials for a greener environment, but also they were inadvertently teaching their students the importance of resourcefulness or a “Reuse Behavior” that will stick with them for years to come, How wonderful!

Below are some videos of the Educator Drive Event, available in English & en Espanol. Take a peek!

Reuse in the Classroom

Pflugerville Teacher’s Reuse

Austin Creative Reuse (En Espanol)



Artist Spotlight: Adaptive Reuse

adaptive-tins-for-blogThere are artists that work from scrap materials, and there are others, like Christine Terrell, who is completely living the reuse lifestyle.  It’s an incredibly satisfying, resource-saving and budget-smart way to live.  Christine’s company, Adaptive Reuse, creates art, jewelry and other objects using unique, but mass-produced materials in an unexpected way.


Once a bona fide scrapper homes in on a potential material, they are really insatiable in it’s acquisition.  Her materials of choice are food tins, spice and tea tins, both vintage and contemporary.  These printed tins are collected, flattened and sorted.  I love the way they become a library of colors, patterns and short vignettes from which to choose.  The jewelry she creates is also beautifully made, as she is a self-proclaimed technique junkie.


All of the pieces are really intriguing, but one of my favorites is this partly sunny pair of earrings. They play nicely on our mind/mood swings and the fickle nature that is apparent in how human beings see things.

zen-for-blogChristine Terrell’s extreme artistic resourcefulness finds its way into her encaustic paintings as well.  The remnants of her jewelry work create a multitude of stencils, which then provide the basis for the paintings.  Or, repetitive process meets repetitive process, like two mirrors facing each other and recycling into perpetuity.


The beer tab hanger on the back is absolutely brilliant and rounds out the whole conversation.  I definitely look forward to see what Christine does next in the realm of adaptive reuse.




2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Center Hours:
Thu/Fri: 10AM - 4PM
Sat: 11AM -6PM
Sun: 12PM - 6PM
Curbside Pickup, 10am-4pm, Daily
Tel: (512) 375-3041