Author Archives: Kat Moulton

Sustainability Spotlight: UT Surplus REuse Store

At Austin Creative Reuse, we’re about more than just arts and crafts. We promote like-minded organizations to reduce overlap, increase awareness of city resources, and make it as easy as possible for our community to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

 

This month, we are highlighting fellow reusers at the UT Surplus Property – a department of the University of Texas at Austin, that collects university items no longer being used and finds them a new home. Crews pick up items every day on campus that have been sent to the surplus warehouse via a work order system. Third party movers are even enlisted throughout the year to bring items from large projects. UT Surplus Property then transfers the items to other organizations within the university system, public schools, and qualified assistance organizations.

 

Through good stewardship, UT Surplus Property promotes a sustainable campus and community and supports the university’s conservation goals. “A typical year would experience approximately 500 tons of material flowing through Surplus,” says Resource Recovery Manager, Robert Moddrell. He adds, “Surplus Property represents 9% of the total waste weight from all streams on campus including donation, sales, recycle, compost and landfill.” 

 

Through development work with student interns, the operation has reached Zero Waste with a 92% diversion rate! “Student Interns have been involved since the beginning [in 2017], participating in evaluation, data accumulation, business plan development, store setup, and stocking and operating the store each week,” says Moddrell.

 

 

Our purpose is to repurpose.

All UT faculty and staff are invited to visit the Surplus Property warehouse at Building 45 to shop for items that can be taken back to campus for departmental use, encouraging re-circulation within the campus. The warehouse is open Fridays from 8AM-12PM and 1PM-4PM, no appointment is necessary for visits by UT faculty or staff. Students wishing to visit the warehouse must be accompanied by a faculty or staff member and are only permitted to use items for needs relevant to university departments.

 

The Surplus REuse Store is open to the public and operates using a sustainable model focused on recovering, repurposing, and reselling university assets, including furniture, athletic apparel and equipment, office supplies, antique items, fixtures, and more. The majority of the surplus items such as furniture and vehicles are sold through a weekly online auction process. 

 

There are also opportunities for public schools and qualified assistance organizations to select items such as office supplies, desks, chairs, bookcases, file cabinets, computers, monitors and keyboards to use for their designated purpose. Interested parties are welcome to contact them at surplus@austin.utexas.edu.

 

The Surplus REuse Store is open Thursdays 3pm to 7pm and Saturdays 8am to 12pm, and  is located at PRC Building 30: 3300 Read Granberry Trl, Austin, TX 78758.

 

Reuse on the Runway: A Night of Fashion, Costume, and Drag

Austin Creative Reuse (ACR) is holding our first ever Reuse on the Runway on October 22nd! This will be a community fashion show for creators including: fashion, cosplay, Halloween costumes, historical costumes, fantasy or other genre costumes, drag, and more! We want to offer an inclusive, no judgment environment to show off your outfits and costumes, and to walk the runway as a model.

 

The application deadline is August 15 for designers and models. For designers, we have an initial limit of 3 looks per designer, with a potential for more depending on the number of applications we receive. We want everyone to be able to participate, the only reason we will not accept a designer is because we have limited time for the show.

 

No modeling experience is expected of anyone. Designers are encouraged to model outfits or costumes themselves, or have friends be your models. The show will be in blocks by category, so if you have 3 cosplay looks, there will not be time to change during that block of the show so you will need models. There will be a short break between categories, so if you have looks in different categories there may be time to model it all yourself.

 

Model applications are for anyone who is interested in being a model but not being a designer to match with designers who need models. It will be between designers and models to arrange things like test fittings

 

ACR will host the runway inside of the fenced-in side lot, and will invite the public to support our local reuse artist community. Backstage will be inside the center. All areas, including the runway, will be ADA compliant. If you have any other accessibility questions or concerns, please let us know how we can help.

 

Where: 2005 Wheless Lane, Austin TX 78723

 

Fees: Reuse on the Runway will be free to participate. Guest admission will be by donation. Stay tuned for VIP and sponsorship opportunities!

 

Requirements: All looks shown in the fashion show must incorporate some element of reuse. Participants must be able to attend the rehearsal on October 15.

 

To apply, submit a designer application or a model application.

 

THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST! WE CAN’T WAIT TO WORK WITH YOU!

Creative Cache Educator’s Program

 

Connecting educators of all types with creative materials that inspire reuse in the classroom!

Creative Cache is a “pay what you can” program to support local educators, teachers and non-profit organizations.  Making creative materials affordable is an important tenet of Austin Creative Reuse.  We want to ensure that income limits and budgets are not barriers to creativity and that all people and all programs have access to creative materials.  

ACR processes thousands of pounds of donations every week from mainstream materials like markers, artist paper pads, fabric and yarn to more obscure materials like wooden architectural samples, colored 3 inch plastic dots, fabric samples and slide carousels.  

All of the materials in our center are intentionally priced low, but we would like to make that budget go a little bit further for our educator friends.  You can now shop our overstock items using a pay what you can model.  We will give you a list of the materials included in the program, you will tell us how many units of each you would like, we will fulfill your request as our inventory allows, give you a value for the materials, and you can make a donation to the organization in the amount that fits your program’s budget.  

Bringing the value back into discarded materials takes a lot of work.  ACR utilizes thousands of volunteer hours every year to ensure that our costs are kept low, allowing us to offer materials at an affordable price.  However, success is more than financial for us.  While we have a need to cover our costs to keep doing what we’re doing, diverting valuable materials from the landfill is what this is all about! 

Thanks for helping us make reuse dreams come true!

 

No luck getting a donation appointment? Here are some other ways you can donate your creative materials to ACR or share them locally!

The past year has been doozy!  It’s been 16 months since we moved into our new home in Windsor Park and 15 ½ months since we made the difficult decision to close our doors to the public for the first time during the pandemic.  Over the last year, we have sought to be adaptable and responsive and to find innovative ways to keep creative materials in the hands of the Austin community during a time when creative expression was sorely needed.  We prioritized finding new ways to safely accept donations and to keep usable materials out of the landfill despite having far fewer volunteers in the center and extremely limited ways to move materials out the door.

 

Bringing the value back into previously loved arts and crafts materials takes many hands, and throughout the pandemic, we haven’t always had enough.  We rely heavily on volunteers to work alongside our paid staff members – this allows us to handle many types of items that other thrift stores can’t and to keep our prices low, keeping creativity accessible.

We know many of you have frustration with our current donation appointment model.  We hear you and we feel it, too.  Until the time comes when we can fully swing open our doors and accept all the thousands of pounds of amazing materials that we know you have, we would love to offer up some solutions that may help

  1. Large donation appointments.  If you have more than a trunk full of materials to donate (at least 6 bags or boxes), we invite you to schedule a large donation by emailing us at info@austincreativereuse.org.
  2. Pool your donations!  If you don’t have enough to qualify for a large donation yourself, you can pool your donations with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers and then email us to schedule a large donation.  Or, you can even go one step further and host a community donation drive.  We’ve got all the resources you need and can potentially even help with transport.  You can find all the details here
  3. Share with your neighbors.  We would love to accept your donations, but if our limitations make that impossible right now, we still think the most important thing is that your no longer needed materials stay out of the landfill!  We encourage you to try rehoming them in your neighborhood Buy Nothing Project or a neighborhood listserv. You never know – you might have a crafty neighbor on the block who is ready to learn something new!

 

It’s been a challenging year, but we’ll continue to move forward the way we always have – hand-in-hand with our community. Please hang in there with us while we continue to work hard to inspire creativity, cultivate community and make reuse dreams come true. 

 

Material Donation Drives

 

Community donation drives are back!  One way you can help support your favorite creative reuse center (and clear out all those donations you’ve been saving for an ACR donation appointment) is by hosting a mini donation drive in your neighborhood, at your child’s school, at your workplace or anywhere else you connect to people.

Hosting a drive is simple – you choose the collection location, date and time, advertise the collection to your network and then drop the materials off to ACR. Your collection keeps usable materials out of the landfill and keeps our center stocked with accessible creative materials for everyone in our community!

Here is additional information about what we can and cannot accept, and best practices when hosting a drive!

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Goodwill Internship Program

This Summer, we are excited to collaborate with Goodwill Central Texas and their Summer Youth Employment and Summer Earn and Learn Programs. These programs provide students across a wide range of abilities with opportunities to develop their work readiness skills and earn paid work experience. Austin Creative Reuse is the lucky host of 2 cohorts this summer through these programs. During their 5-week internship, the interns will learn critical job skills like organization, discernment, and patience through tasks such as sorting writing instruments, pricing frames, or organizing paper. Some have chosen to work at the center and are provided a job coach to work alongside them, while others are working from their home.

Goodwill intern Juan Carlos has spent 5 weeks with Austin Creative Reuse, doing some of his favorite tasks like stamping, rolling ties, securing yarn, and removing metal from file folders. He says these tasks helped him learn patience, an important skill in many job industries. Although Juan Carlos’ time at Austin Creative Reuse has ended, he is walking away more confident with his skills and with a greater understanding of reusing and its impact on the environment. 

 

 

We are happy to have a new cohort this month, including interns Janae and Luna. Janae is excited to be helpful and work in a creative environment. Through this experience, they hope to learn how to be open to others and ultimately to have fun. Luna is looking forward to working with others in a team environment, as well as surrounding herself with crafty people and materials! 

 

 

More information on Goodwill’s internship programs can be found on their website.

Girl Scout Programming and Service Offerings

ACR offers a variety of programming tailored to Girl Scouts.  We have customized tours, service projects, SWAPs workshops and badge earning opportunities.  Girls can take a behind the scenes tour of the center, participate in a scavenger hunt, and complete a service project geared towards the ages of your troop members.  Credit is also available to girls looking to fulfill requirements for school, National Honor Society or other organizations.   

 

A guided tour of the Creative Reuse Center helps scouts learn about some of the kinds of donations ACR receives, how they are given added value through the sorting and merchandising process, and how they are displayed for sale or creative projects.  We will talk about the environmental impact of Creative Reuse Centers along with the role that reuse plays in the importance of the 3 Rs. 

 

For an additional fee per girl, ACR can provide materials to make custom SWAPs or offer reuse workshops including making  succulent planters, birdhouses, scrapbooks, or journals. 

 

All of the below offerings can be designed for Girl Scouts of any program level!

 

General Offerings

 

Girl Scout Field Trip $3.00/scout

Come to ACR where your troop will learn about reuse, tour the center and participate in a scavenger hunt. 


Girl Scout Service Project $3.00/scout

Field trip (above) + volunteer activity in the center based on the girls’ ages and interests .

 

Custom Girl Scout Reuse Workshop $5.00/scout

Field Trip (above) + a hands on creative reuse workshop using materials and tools provided by ACR.  Example activities include  making succulent planters, birdhouses, scrapbooks, or journals. 

 

Girl Scout SWAP Workshop $5.00/scout

Field trip (above) + a hands on workshop where the  girls can engage their creativity to design one-of-a-kind SWAPs using materials and tools provided by ACR.  .


Girl Scout Badge Earning Workshop $8.00/scout

In addition to general workshops and service projects, ACR also offers workshops tailored to specific badge requirements. Please see below for offerings. 

 

Don’t see what your girls want? Need SWAPs to fit a themed event? Please contact us to design a workshop to meet your needs.

 

Badge Offerings

 

Girl Scout Daisy – Use Resources Wisely Petal

Girls will read “The Earth Book” and learn about the importance of conserving resources and how ACR helps with conservation. Then girls will make a reuse creation to take home and have the opportunity to participate in a service project. Suggestions for the creation include: succulent garden, fairy house, bird house, or SWAPs.

 

Girl Scout Brownie – Painting Badge

Girls will talk with an art teacher about inspiration and review some photographs of works to talk about what they like and don’t like. Girls will then create four separate paintings: 1) a portrait or still life, 2) an abstract mood piece, 3) a set of note cards where no paint brushes are used, and 4) a part of a mural with others in the workshop.

 

Girl Scout Junior – Jeweler Badge

Girls will learn about jeweler’s tools and materials and have the opportunity to make multiple jewelry pieces to earn the Jeweler Badge. This workshop is a chance to explore different media while making wearable jewelry, key chains, and/or barrettes.

 

Girl Scout Senior – Collage Artist Badge

In this workshop, Girl Scouts will learn about the history of collage and collage artists.  They will then make  at least four collage pieces, including one  3-D collage and one advocacy postcard that will be flown on a rocket to space (with Blue Origin) and then returned to an  address of the girl’s choice.

 

Volunteer Call! Reuse on the Runway: A Night of Fashion, Costume, and Drag

Austin Creative Reuse is holding our first ever fashion show, Reuse on the Runway on October 22nd. This will be a community fashion show for all! We want to offer an inclusive, no judgment environment to show off your outfits and costumes, and to walk the runway as a model.

In order to pull off a night on the runway, we’ll need lots of volunteers!  We’re currently gathering names and talents and will be releasing a sign up with specific duties as we get closer to the event. 

Possible volunteer assignments will be listed on the sign up, some examples include hair and makeup, sound or announcements, check in attendants, set up and break down, dressing room assistance, and many more. 

Come help us make reuse dreams come true on the runway and fill out the volunteer interest form today!

 

FY2021 Annual Report

 

Whew!  What a year this has been!

 

New location.  Global pandemic.  Snowpocalypse.  It was definitely one for the books!

 

ACR’s Annual Report for FY2021 (April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021) is our reflection on the events of the last year and where we go next.  We invite you to flip through its pages and celebrate what we have accomplished together. 

 

  • We diverted 222,000 pounds of donated creative materials from the landfill. That’s a total of 466 tons diverted to date! 
  • Although our center was closed to the public for a total of 242 days, we quickly pivoted to find new ways to get creative materials out to our community including a new online store, sidewalk sales and personal shopping.
  • We supported the artist community with two firsts – our first online Reuse Gallery and our first Outdoor Reuse Market.
  • Volunteers continued to generously share their time and talents, donating 7,797 hours in the center and from their homes.
  • And perhaps most importantly, we kept our entire staff fully employed during this challenging year and even offered paid time off for the first time.

You can read the full report here .

 

The incredible support of our community allowed ACR to continue to put affordable creative materials back into the hands of artists, makers, students and more – and not in the landfill – during a year when creativity may have been needed most. 

 

Thank you for making reuse dreams come true!

Artist Spotlight: Melanie Muenchinger

Each month, we feature incredible reuse artists in the Austin community! This month we are featuring illustrator and avid-reuser Melanie Muenchinger. Melanie is a designer of art stamps professionally, and uses her passion for upcycling as a side hustle. Shopping at Austin Creative Reuse allows Melanie to find things to supplement her design work as well as experiment with new media and turn trash into treasure! Read more about Melanie’s artistic practice below.

 

 

When did you start creating art?

My mother loves to brag I drew a perfect rendition of Piglet from Winnie the Pooh when I was 2. Drawing and anything with my hands, especially paper crafting, came very naturally. My childhood was full of art. I draw in many styles, cartoons, botanicals, portraits, etc. I love drawing from life but love capturing an expression or as a way to tell a story. Children’s books especially captured my imagination, but also, films and animals. My parents saw art was my true gifting, but not being particularly artistic themselves, didn’t really know how to best help turn that into a profession. My grandfather was a dentist by trade but a very talented oil painter all his life. While he did win some awards an his art hung in some galleries, buildings and homes in Southern California, it was always just a hobby and side hustle. I had no idea how many careers there were in art beyond becoming a fine artist. For those reasons, I didn’t go to art school. (Wish I had, but oh, well! If you’re an artist at heart, that will eventually come out.) I have been blessed to be a professional illustrator the past 14 years for an online crafting company Gina K. Designs, creating a line of art stamps for card making, as well as publishing 2 books on stamping and paper crafting techniques with my stamp sets. I design and photograph sample cards for inspiration for our customers, and have a blog and Youtube channel with free tutorial videos to demonstrate the stamps and techniques in action. I love educating fellow crafters. It’s probably about the most fun you can have “working”!

 

What is your preferred medium?

I love drawing with pen or pencil, and enjoy coloring with alcohol markers. I like to work fast and move from one idea or project to the next, so media that require a lot of time and layering I haven’t had as much interest, aptitude, or the patience for! I really enjoy all the different inking techniques art stamps allow for and using them in new ways to make a pretty card that will celebrate a special date or lift someone up who needs encouragement. Many people who receive them say they have never received a handmade card before.  As for painting, which is my newest passion, I love the bold colors and immediacy of acrylics. Their quick drying time and opaqueness allow me to capture exactly what I want quickly, or cover things easily if I decide to make changes. I also like that they are inexpensive and don’t smell!

 

During the pandemic, the extra time allowed me to explore acrylic painting.

 

What drives your creative spirit?

Unique art, beautiful colors, flowers, new ideas, fabulous textiles, clothing, good food, humor, textures, toys, puzzles, fresh art supplies, and found objects with potential to be something more. I love feeling that I can see something special no one else does in a cast off and developing it to reveal its beauty to a larger audience. I don’t like doing the same thing twice, so I am driven to come up with things I’ve never seen in a stamp set, or to solve a problem or fill a need or gap in what I see in the crafting industry.  Trends are fun, but I like to start them if I can. Some of my favorite stamp sets work more like tools that make the process easier, more efficient or effective. In that way, I feel more like an inventor than an artist. I also prefer having a person to create the piece for, rather than playing with an idea for art’s sake. Definitely more time and love goes into that, and hearing how much joy it brings to the recipient gives me the same. Having said that, my curiosity for trying new things is boundless, so I can never pass up an opportunity to try a new craft when I see supplies or a kit on sale and just seeing what happens.  Those projects, successful or less so, are for me alone, a little adventure to experience. Before the lockdown, a weekly visit was a must!

 

I saw a fun article on MyModernMet about a thrift store owner who adds Star Wars elements to old landscape paintings he finds at garage sales, and it looked like something I’d love to try. When my friend who loves Star Wars turned 50, a quick trip to ACR yielded a textured print of a mill on a pond (and a frame the right size!) that was perfect for me to recreate a scene from Empire Strikes Back where Yoda raises the X wing! He loved it! 

 

How has your art adapted during the pandemic?

Increased shipping times of our product by manufacturers meant fewer releases of my new stamp sets, plus an unusual amount of downtime from designing and promoting, so I was not as busy with my usual work. I also now had more free time to explore new interests since I was cut off from my habitual shopping, thrifting, and cultural events like gallery openings, plays, and concerts. I discovered I love acrylic painting! I do a lot of pet and people portraits or capture special moments or places as birthday and Christmas gifts now, and friends and family are so pleased with their painting I am getting several commissions.  As bad as some of the past year has been, in many ways I could count as my best because of some of the art I’ve been making and new opportunities it’s created for me.  Both financial opportunities, and challenging me to out of my box to become a better artist through improving my techniques, going online to delve deeper into the best artists of the past along with what’s happening in the art world globally, whereas before the pandemic I was just doing that in person locally.

 

I am a big fan of the small 4×4 wooden block canvases to paint on, the finished colored edge is so sharp and contemporary, I knew they would make wonderful Christmas gifts for my family and friends. December was a wonderful month of painting their pets, children, or favorite places from photos, while watching movies or listening to Christmas music as I worked, and the result was more meaningful than any present I could have paid a lot for. Not only were they thrilled, I got a list of requests to paint more, so I had to invest in a case of the blocks (thank you, curbside pick up!) to fulfill all my commissions. The joy of making, gifting, and receiving more painting challenges, while also getting paid, is a win-win-win!

 

How does reuse play a part in your art? 

I am forever thankful my friend Kitty Crider pointed me to ACR 2 years ago, my only regret is that I missed out on the first two that  it was open! It checks a lot of boxes for me. Retail therapy, treasure hunt, home décor, gifts to which I can add my own personal touch, supplementing my overflowing toolbox, jumpstarting my mojo, or materials to magically monetize with a bit of manipulation! Check, check, check! The low, almost no cost materials virtually eliminate all fear of risk or starting, which can really hamper creativity. I don’t have to worry I have wasted money if I’m not 100% pleased with my results, or don’t want to continue pursuing that craft. It was a fun experiment. I learn something either way, if I’m good at it or not, enjoy it or not, want to keep putting more time and money into it or not. All valuable stuff! There is a time to buy the best materials you can find/afford, and that is rarely when you are trying something new! I also don’t get caught up in perfectionism if a canvas or object is old or cheap or possibly damaged or shabby from the start. It can’t get worse, only better! A blank canvas or fresh paints can be very inspiring, but also intimidating without a plan or the worry you might ruin or waste good materials. I never feel this way with ACR finds, only possibility and invitation to create. I have altered several painted canvases that had really good beginnings, adding my own touches to make it personal to my experiences, or the person I planned to give it to. And sometimes, the biggest obstacle is the best opportunity. A very nice painting with a very large rip found its way in the bucket section. I’d  just released a set of butterfly stamps, so instead of seeing the hole as a flaw, I imagined several of my stamped and cut butterflies emerging from the opening, to make a new dimensional piece about transformation. The beauty of brokenness and new beginnings this represents for me, in both the finding and recreating, I just find thrilling. I love that reclaimed pieces have a history and good story. It would be awesome to find out about who painted it originally! Until then I enjoy the mystery and imagining different possibilities.

 

I found an abstract piece with poppies that had such great colors and impact, but a very noticeable, unrepairable rip (lower left). I bought it for a quarter and added several of my stamped and die cut butterflies I illustrated flying off the canvas and emerging through the hole, echoing the metamorphosis that takes place.

 

Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?

Most useful: a large folding easel in a carrying bag I can set up indoors to work on commissions or take on excursions for plein aire practice!

Most trash to treasure/best investment: a $5 gallon bucketful of leather scraps I picked through for color and textures.  I streamed several movies while cutting these into hundreds of pairs of earrings (some of the jump rings and fish hooks were from ACR, some from another craft store) I was able to sell at craft fairs.

Most valuable: a gorgeous oversized chessboard with inlaid burlwood which I hope to have my husband make into a little side table. The craftsmanship is amazing and originally very expensive, but it needed a special product (which I had) and a little elbow grease to remove a bright red mark on its surface, now good as new!  For now it’s just a chessboard, of course I found some chess pieces to go with it on a subsequent visit!

Random finds: frames for my paintings, lovely jewelry!

 

One of my first ventures to ACR was handpicking a bunch of beautiful leather scraps from the bucket section to cut out leather earrings. A five dollar bucketful yielded hundreds of pairs of earrings to show at holiday craft fairs. I was able to sell them at a low price since my cost was next to nothing and it enabled people to get stocking stuffers for many with money still left over to treat themselves!

 

Where can we find out more about your art?

My channel: www.youtube.com/MelanieMuenchinger

My blog, Hands, Head and Heart: www.melaniemuenchinger.blogspot.com

My stamps are sold at: www.ginakdesigns.com/melanie

Instagram: @melaniemuenchinger

Contact for commissioned artwork: mmuenchinger@grandecom.net

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