Blog

Saturday Register Donations Fund Special Projects

When you check out your basket of treasures at one of ACR’s registers, our Reuse Specialists may invite you to make a donation along with your purchase.  These donations go into our general operating fund and support our center operations, programming, staff and more.  We couldn’t do what we do without your financial support, and now we’re giving you a chance to directly support the projects you love most.  

 

Starting this month, we’re making Saturdays special financial donation days here at ACR.  When you donate at our registers on a Saturday, your donation will go toward one of the following special funds:

 

FIRST SATURDAYS ARE FOR THE PEOPLE

Our People Make it Possible:  This is a core value we really take to heart!  We wouldn’t be where we are today without our hard-working staff who make the wheels turn here at ACR.  We’ll be collecting donations on First Saturdays for team-building activities, professional development, staff appreciation and outings that will be chosen by our staff.

 

SECOND SATURDAYS ARE FOR SCHOOLS

Adopt a School Program: Educators pour their hearts and souls into teaching the next generation, and we want to help stretch limited school budgets.  Donations received on the second Saturday of the month will be turned into ACR gift cards that our adopted School of the Month can use to stock their classrooms with school supplies,  art materials, makerspace projects and more. 

 

THIRD SATURDAYS ARE FOR LEARNING

Community-Building Make and Takes:  Our creative reuse center is more than a store.  It’s a vibrant community hub where all kinds of people can come together to explore and create.  Donations received on third Saturdays will fund a facilitator to provide free Make & Take workshops in the center to help inspire visitors to look at creative materials in new ways, offer an opportunity to try something new and help ensure that visits to our creative reuse center are fun and engaging.

 

 

FOURTH SATURDAYS ARE FOR THE LOVE

Workshop Scholarship Fund:  At ACR, we believe that creativity is for everyone.  We prioritize making our creative workshops affordable, but sometimes a little extra love can go a long way.  Make a donation on the fourth Saturdays to contribute to a scholarship fund to help your neighbors take a class at ACR.

 

ACR Launches Adopt a School Program!

Educators pour their hearts into teaching the youngest members of our community.  At Austin Creative Reuse, we’re here to make their work just a little bit easier. We’re excited to announce our new Adopt a School program to help local schools get the supplies they need to make this the best year yet!

 

Each month, ACR will select our School of the Month based on nominations from the community.  For one full month, shoppers and visitors to ACR’s creative reuse center will be invited to purchase low cost school supplies, art supplies and other creative materials from an ACR wish list created by the school’s teachers and staff.  Plus, on the second Saturday of the month, all monetary donations received at ACR’s registers will be donated to the school in the form of ACR gift cards.

 

Our neighbor, Harris Elementary, is ACR’s first School of the Month! 

 

 

Be sure to stop by ACR in September to support Harris students.

 

Eligibility

To be eligible, the nominated organization must be: (1) a school or other institute of learning; (2) public or private; (3) all grades – infants to college and beyond; and (4) located within 100 miles of ACR. 


Nominations

Nominations can be made by completing the nomination form available hereNominations will be accepted on a rolling basis, be held for one full year from the time of submission and considered monthly during that time.  Nominations will be accepted from school employees, students / student families, community members and any other supporters.  Multiple nominations for the same school will be accepted and weighed in the decision.

 

September Reuse & Rethink Challenge: Bucket Containers!

 

What can you make with the containers from our bucket section? We have containers of all kinds, from cookie tins, to tupperware, tiny pillboxes, wooden boxes, and so much more! The possibilities to show off your creativity are endless. Make a masterpiece of your own and then enter our monthly contest to win a $10 ACR gift card!

 

If you need inspiration or want to hang out in our workshop and craft with others, join us for a ReThink Tank session on Friday 9/10 and 9/24 from 12-4pm. We’ll provide you with all the tools and material needed for your creation. Free to participate though donations are much appreciated!

 

 

Submission:
  • When you’ve completed your creation, please provide at least 2 photos of your art piece, your contact info and a short description of materials used. Your submission can be made in person at our center or in an email to rethink@austincreativereuse.org.
  • Your creation should be made from reused materials  — all materials will be available at a low cost (as always) at Austin Creative Reuse.
  • One winner will be notified  and receive a $10 Gift Card to ACR. They will also be announced on our social media, along with photos of their creation!

 

Deadline: Thursday, September 30th, 2021

 

Please feel free to email rethink@austincreativereuse.org with any questions. Good luck!

 

August Reuse & Rethink Winner: Mimi A!

Last month, we gave y’all the challenge of reimagining the humble binder clip. We’re excited to announce our winner, Mimi A! Her divasuarus was the most creative of all the entries, with thoughtful assembly of the binder clips and fun decoration that totally transformed the material into something new. Her workmanship is evident in the details and use of reused materials unmatched by any other participant. Congratulations to Mimi!

 

 

Here are some of the other entries!

 

Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Evans

 

Each month, we highlight one of the incredible folks who help to keep Austin Creative Reuse running. This month, it’s our HBIC – Jennifer Evans! Jenn works tirelessly behind the scenes as the Executive Director of ACR. She started out as a board member several years ago and loved it so much, she joined the staff in 2020. Over the last year, she has overseen the rapid growth of ACR, steered us through a pandemic, and spread the reuse gospel to anyone who would listen. Here’s your chance to learn more about the woman behind the scenes! Also, be sure to check out her tutorial for a DIY weaving board!

 

How did you find Austin Creative Reuse?

My first visit to ACR was as a shopper at our first space in The Linc.  I fell in love immediately with the colors and the textures and the treasure hunt.  I applied to join the Board of Directors that day and spent the next three and a half years as ACR’s Sustainability Chair before joining the staff in 2020.

 

What’s your favorite part about working at ACR?

The JOY.  Being eco-friendly often means making a sacrifice, but at ACR being green is fun and accessible.  Every donation we receive and every visit to our center is a joyful contribution to making a more sustainable future for our community.  

 

Are you an artist, crafter, or maker? What mediums do you work with?

I don’t feel like a natural-born creative, but our staff and volunteers have definitely helped me learn to get comfortable with experimenting with art and trying new things.  You really can’t do creativity wrong.  My kids love to create, especially with natural materials.  We’ve rolled beeswax candles, made bath salts, printed fabrics and made lots of homemade strawberry jam from my grandma’s secret recipe.

 

What do you do when you’re not working at ACR?

My family bought a van last year, which we are converting into a camper for our family of five.  We’re doing the work ourselves, so I’m learning my way around power tools, insulation, carpentry and wiring diagrams.  Traveling the world has always been my joy, and this is a way for us to continue exploring with three young kiddos.

 

What’s the craziest thing you found in donation mountain?

I love it when donors include personal notes about what they donate.  Knowing that an object came from a beloved aunt or was brought back on a family trip gives an insight into the object’s story.  

 


About Jenn:

 

Jenn spent much of her childhood traveling up and down the east coast from Canada to Florida in the back of her parents’ baby blue 1970s Econoline camper van. While it might have been frowned upon by today’s standards (there were no seats in the back of that van, let alone seat belts!), her fond memories of days on the beach, hikes in the woods and nights spent around the campfire started her down a path toward environmental stewardship that she now hopes to instill in her own children and share with her community.

Jenn is a graduate of Duke University’s Environmental Science & Policy Program and the University of Chicago Law School. She previously served four years on ACR’s Board of Directors, and was the Deputy Director of Austin nonprofit Families in Nature and an environmental law associate at the global law firm Allen & Overy LLP. She sits on Austin ISD’s Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee and is active in the Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative from the National League of Cities. Jenn founded Nature Playdate, a nature community for Austin families, and is active in several other local environmental and community groups.

When she’s not out promoting the beauty of creative reuse, Jenn can be found chasing around her three wild kids and working on their old camper van with her husband, Kelly. She digs travel, the ocean, cool mountain breezes and admiring the creativity of all the folks who pass through the doors at ACR. You can reach Jenn at execdirector@austincreativereuse.org.

You can also follow her on Instagram @natureplaydate

 

Jenn’s (and her kiddo’s) first visit to ACR!

 

Beeswax candles

Make: DIY, Kid-Friendly Picture Frame Loom

 

 

Curious to try weaving or want to introduce weaving to a child?  Make this simple loom from an old picture frame.  Be sure to get the kids to help – building the loom and weaving are both great ways to practice fine motor skills, hand eye-hand coordination, concentration and confidence.  Use the loom over and over again for all your weaving projects.

 

Materials – for the loom
  • Wooden picture frame, glass removed
  • Small nails
  • Hammer
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

 

Materials – for your weaving
  • Yarn – all sorts, colors and textures
  • Scissors
  • Wide tooth comb
  • Small piece of matboard, thick cardstock or a wide wooden craft stick

 

 

Choosing a frame

Any size or shape of frame will work.  The larger the frame, the larger your weaving can be.  Real wood is preferred over particle board or similar materials which are more likely to splinter when you hammer in the nails.  Hot tip:  If the front of your frame is beveled or ridged, try flipping it over.  The backside is usually flat and may be a more cooperative surface.

 

 

 

Making the loom

 

1. Using your ruler and pencil, make tick marks along two opposite edges of the frame to indicate where you will place your nails.  I used ½ inch marks on the grown up version of the loom and 1 inch marks on the kid-friendly version.  Spacing your marks out more makes the weaving easier for small hands.  You can also go smaller than ½ inch, which will allow for a tighter weaving.

 

 

2.  Hammer in your nails at the marks.  If you start at the end nearest your hammering hand, you’ll have more room to hold the nail with your other hand.  To keep your nails at the same height, try using a piece of scrap wood tucked under the heads.

 

 

Kid Job:  Kids love hammering!  If they’re not old enough to do it all themselves, try getting each nail started with one or two hits, and then let them do the rest.  Perfectly even and level nails are not required for this project!

 

 

Once both lines of nails are complete, you made a loom – yay! – and now you’re ready to weave.

 

Starting your weaving

 

Let’s start with some weaving terminology.  There are two sets of yarn in weaving.  The first set is called the “warp yarn.”  This is the yarn that is first wrapped onto the loom and forms the scaffolding for the weaving.  The second set is called the “weft yarns.”  These are the yarns that you will weave through the warp yarns.  The heddle is the device that you use to pull the weft yarns through the weaving.  The loom comb is a device for tightening each line of weft yarns.  A wide tooth comb for hair makes a great loom comb.

 

1. First, warp the loom. Tie the end of the yarn into the loom at one corner.  Thread the yarn across the loom around the first nail, then back across the loom around the next nail and then back across the loom again.  Continue until the whole loom is warped.  You can skip nails to adjust the size or tightness of your weaving.  (I skipped the last few nails because I ran out of yarn – perfection is not required!)  Tie the end of the yarn to the loom.

 

Kid Job:  Warping the loom is a great job for the kiddos.  It practices fine motor skills, and if you make a mistake, you can just back up and try again.

 

 

2. Then, make a heddle.  Use scissors or an Exacto knife to cut two grooves into the end of a piece of mat board or large wooden craft stick.  I used a dog bone-shaped piece of matboard that I found at ACR.  The size was perfect for small hands – grown ups might prefer something a little less wide. Wrap your weft yarns around the heddle lengthwise.

 


3. Then, weave your weft yarns.  Tie the end of your first weft yarn at the corner of the loom.  Use the heddle to weave over and under each warp yarn, repeating until you get all the way across the loom.  Then weave, over and under, back across the warp yarns in the other direction, being sure to alternate the over and under stitches.  Use your comb to tighten lines, if needed.  This basic over and under weave is called a plain weave, but don’t be afraid to experiment with more advanced techniques on your DIY loom.

 

 

4. Switch to a different weft yarn at any point.  Try different colors, textures and thicknesses of yarn.  You might even want to experiment by weaving in sparkly bits, leaves, tiny things or anything else you’d like to try.  Kids especially love this.

 


5. To finish, tie the last weft yarn to the last warp yarn and tie off any loose pieces where you changed weft yarns.  Remove the weaving from the loom by gently lifting the warp yarns off each nail.  Knot off the warp yarns in any design you like.


6. Admire your work and plan your next project!  You can use this loom again and again.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Crawford & Jordan

 

Each month, we feature one of the many volunteers that help to make the magic of Austin Creative Reuse possible. This month, it’s core volunteer Crawford Humble and his coach, Jordan! Crawford was introduced to ACR from a coworker because of his love for arts and crafts. He began taking projects home to sort before coming in for regular volunteer shifts in the center. When asked why he volunteers at ACR, Crawford responded, “I like to work here!”

 

Some of Crawford’s favorite activities are counting and sorting, so we make sure there’s lots of paper, markers, pens, and pencils for him to sort when he comes in. A native Texan, Crawford always gets excited when he finds Texas themed scrapbook paper! 

 

Volunteering at ACR has given Crawford a sense of purpose as well as kept him busy during the pandemic. He loves the sense of community fostered by Austin Creative Reuse and takes joy in saying “hello” and “goodbye” to everyone when he comes in to volunteer. To date, Crawford has volunteered over 100 hours at ACR!

 

In his free time, Crawford likes to work on art projects like painting, making hats for cats, and making pillows to donate to children’s hospitals. When asked what kind of writing he likes to do, he responded, “love letters.” His favorite color (of the day) is black & white, and his favorite animal (of the day) is a Zebra!

 

We are so happy to have Crawford and Jordan as a part of the ACR family. Thank y’all for everything you do!

Introducing Workshop Space Rental!

Austin Creative Reuse is excited to announce that our new workshop space is now available for rentals! Our workshop is an affordable option for hobby groups looking for gathering space, instructors looking for workshop space and community groups looking for meeting space. We have packages to fit most budgets, including optional access to tools, creative supplies and even support staff.

Start by requesting a date and time for your space, and we’ll follow up with details about the packages we offer! Any questions can be directed to programs@austincreativereuse.org.

Artist Spotlight: Helen Mary Vanston Marek

 

Each month, we feature incredible creatives in the Austin community! We are excited to highlight reuse artist and ACR market vendor, Helen Mary V. Marek! We are blown away by her ability to transform everyday “trash” materials into colorful and unique artwork. Read more about her background and see some of her incredible creations below!

 

When did you start creating art?
I’ve created art as long as I can remember and have always been intrigued with creating art from unconventional materials. When I was 8 or 9 my parents gave me my first art book which was called Creating Art from Anything. A great introduction to using repurposed items in art.

 

“Technology in Blue” (2017)

Acrylic on Canvas Boards, beads, gears, misc items

 

What is your preferred medium?
I use a lot of different materials including beads, stones, sticks, and misc. found items – often incorporated with more traditional canvases. Recently I’ve expanded to more three dimensional items like acrylic florescent light tubes and upcycled drink bottles.

 

“Texas Bluebonnets – A New View” (2021)

Acrylic tubes, upcycled water bottles, string, beads

 

What drives your creative spirit?
I look for beauty all around me and like to share that with others. I’m educated/trained as a graphic designer, so much of my professional job involves computer work — which I enjoy — but I also seek opportunities to be more tactile in my decorative and wearable art.

 

Rock Necklaces (2018)

Stones, beads, string

 

How has your art adapted during the pandemic?
I’ve used more recyclables mixed with natural elements in my art. I’ve participated in Big Medium’s EAST Austin Studio Tours since 2017, but because of the pandemic, in 2020, Big Medium made the tour all virtual or outside exhibits and expanded it throughout Austin and 15 miles from the Capitol. My home in Pflugerville is just under 15 miles from the Capitol, so I decided to display art in my yard. “Elements of Nature: The Grandeur of the Unexpected” consisted of several new pieces I created using a mixture of natural and human-made items hanging in the trees – including a triple mobile made using small bottles I got at AST — all accompanied by a video of blowing grasses projected on my garage door. With the help of my husband and our sons, I also redid much of the front landscaping using arranged stones and repurposed items like old solar light globes and beautiful blue bottles that had been in the garage for years!
 

“Grove of Grandeur” (2019)

Acrylic tubes, beads, string

 

How does reuse play a part in your art?
Several years ago I started creating jewelry using beads, shells, stones, charms, etc. Some are new items, but many are from old necklaces from my own collection or from friends, Goodwill, or garage sales … and ACR. I expanded on the jewelry by incorporating beads onto my acrylic abstract paintings, and then onto more sculptural pieces created using acrylic tubes. Then I started using water and soda bottles. I like the idea of reusing something that is destined to end up in the landfill or (hopefully) recycled into other plastic and making it into something beautiful instead. 8 million tons of plastic bottles are added to our oceans each year – I’m doing my tiny part to try to reduce that!

 

“Repurposeful Waves” (2021)

Mixed Media: “Waves” are upcycled soda bottles. “Sand” below has shells, stones, etc.  

 

What compels you to donate to ACR?
I am a collector/keeper and a bit of a “pack-rat!” I have a hard time letting go of things – especially things that may have other purposes. One of the things I love about ACR is that I know when I do donate items, they are likely to be used by someone else!

 

Windchimes (2021)

6” Plastic tubes, chandelier crystals, metal builder samples, parts from old solar lights

 

Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?
Two items:
1: In Fall 2020, I purchased a case of small brown glass bottles that I used to create a triple mobile called “Captured Keepsakes.” Each bottle holds items such as beads, trinkets, tiny paper for notes, etc. Some are sealed and others are open. Some are empty. They hang from three beaded circles on a tree outside. When the wind blows, they make a soft clanking sound.
2: Another favorite find are some thick plastic tubes that are about 6” long and ½” in diameter. I have no idea what they were used for originally, but I’ve used them for windchimes and have some other ideas.
 
It’s fun to find odd items and create something beautiful and interesting using the treasures!

 

“Captured Keepsakes” (2020)

Glass bottles, beads, wire, fruit mesh bags

 

Where can we find out more about your art?
Please visit my webpage at https://vanmarek.com/, Instagram @vanmarek_helenmary/, and Facebook: VanMarekDesign
I’m also the director of Art 84, a non-profit that presents impactful original art, music, and dance through technology, media, and events: art84.org/, Instagram, FB, Twitter: art84gallery

 

August Reuse and Rethink Challenge: Binder Clips!

Every month, we challenge our versatile creative community to rethink materials commonly found in the ACR center. For Back to School month, we challenge you to rethink the unthinkable: binder clips! These are a staple in any office or classroom, but are likely only used for one purpose. How can you reuse a binder outside of its intended use? Send us your best creations for your chance to win!

 

 

Here are some examples from our Pinterest board:

 

 

Guidelines for entry:
  • Materials must be reused
  • The submissions will be judged on three qualities: creativity, workmanship, & use of reused materials
  • Submissions must be made on or before the deadline
Submission:

When you’ve completed your creation, please provide at least 2 photos of your art piece, your contact info and a short description of materials used. Submissions can be emailed to rethink@austincreativereuse.org.

Prize:

One winner will be selected and receive a $10 Gift Card to ACR. They will also be announced on our social media, along with photos of their creation! 

 
Deadline to enter: Tuesday, August 31st, 2021
 
Want to enter but need a space to work on your creation? Join us for a ReThink Tank!

Each month, we’ll fill our workshop with a variety of materials and tools for you to create based on the Reuse and Rethink contest. Come explore the possibilities of office supplies with us on Friday, August 13th and Friday, August 27th from 12pm – 4pm. No appointment or signup necessary, just drop in and stay for as long as you’d like! Participation is free but donations are much appreciated. Come ReThink with us!

 

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