Make a Luminary

Happy Winter Solstice!  ❄️
December 21st marks the beginning of winter for the northern hemisphere, as well as the longest night of the year. In 2020, this date also marks the “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn, in which the two giant planets will align in the sky!  Celebrate this stellar day with this simple DIY Luminary tutorial created by ACR volunteer, Sarah K.  Sarah comes to us through our great partnership with The Junior League of Austin.

Staff Spotlight: Deanna Carrillo


Each month, we highlight one of our dedicated ACR staff members so you can get to know the folks behind your favorite reuse center! This month, it’s Shift Lead and merchandiser extraordinaire, Deanna Carrillo. See her favorite picks at the center’s Creation Station, along with materials and a tutorial for making a laminate art journal!


How did you find Austin Creative Reuse?

I was on the mailing list for Zero Landfill, and they mentioned that ACR was opening a retail store. I checked it out and was hooked right away. I love trying to find new uses for things instead of throwing them away, but using them to make art is even cooler. You always end up with something unique.


What’s your favorite part about working at ACR?

I love seeing the variety of donations that come in. You never know what you’re going to find. Sometimes it even requires some detective work just to figure out what something is! That’s one of my favorite things.


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

Yes. I make jewelry using traditional metalsmithing techniques, but I also dabble in everything else. I’ve tried papermaking, candlemaking, collage, painting, drawing, sewing, stamp carving, mixed media, mosaics, stained glass, you name it.


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

Lately I’ve been messing around with found object art. Mostly finding the objects. Hopefully the art part will happen eventually. The rest of the time I like to hang out with my husband and our three cats.


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

Well, I found a salesman’s sample of an outdated model of artificial hip hardware, ball and socket and all.


Make a Laminate Art Journal

Turn laminate samples into a portable art journal! Experiment with different mediums and textures to kickstart your creativity or use as a reference for projects! See how reuse specialist Deanna uses laminate samples to try different materials in the center and see what she can create. Creativity doesn’t have to be intimidating – try new things and have fun!



About Deanna

I am fascinated with upcycled, reused, and vintage things. My favorite kind of art is anything that involves items that have been reimagined for something other than their original purpose, and I use them in the jewelry I make as well. I love hearing about the things our customers are making with the stuff they get at ACR.


Outdoor Holiday Market

Austin Creative Reuse is excited to announce that we will host our first Outdoor Holiday Market on Saturday, December 12th and Sunday, December 13th from 12 noon to 5 pm.  The market will be held entirely outdoors in the side lot at our creative reuse center.  The market will feature unique handmade items from more than twenty-five local artists, makers and creatives each day with a focus on creative reuse materials and techniques.  There is no cost for the public to attend.  Masks and social distancing will be required.

“We are delighted to offer this Outdoor Holiday Market to allow our community to shop locally for fun and funky holiday gifts that support Austin’s artists and makers,” said ACR Executive Director, Jennifer Evans.  “The market will feature one-of-a kind pieces and a chance to get to know local artists including ACR’s talented staff and volunteers.”   

We hope to see you at the market!  


Questions can be directed to ACR’s Center Manager, Jen Mack, at

Sustainability Spotlight: The Austin Dish Lending Library

This month, we feature The Austin Dish Lending Library, a local sustainability organization working to keep Austin quirky. Their eclectic library of dishes provide an alternative to disposable, single-use dishes and cutlery that are all too familiar at events.


What is the mission of your company or organization? 

The Austin Dish Lending Library’s mission is to help Austin reach its zero waste goals by providing reusable alternatives to single-use dishes and utensils for Austin area events. 


What environmental issues does your company address?

Our organization works to keep disposable dishes out of the landfill and meet Austin’s need for reusable dishes. Many small events don’t have a budget for expensive dish rentals, so they resort to cheap disposable plastic plates and utensils. By offering free dish rentals we are able to give people, organizations, and businesses the opportunity to make their event greener and reduce their waste! All items are picked up, washed, and returned back to us, keeping dishware from a small 8 person gathering to a larger 100 person event out of the landfill. 


What eco friendly initiatives does your company or organization uphold?

The Austin Dish Lending Library focuses on reduction and reuse. People can use our reusable dishware and reduce the amount of new items they need to buy for their event, which would most likely have ended up in the trash. Our dish collection includes a variety of items needed for an event like plates, bowls, cups, wine glasses, serving platters, cloth napkins, silverware, and more. All of the dishware we have was donated, saving even more items from the landfill to be used again. We even keep dishes that break along the way, and send them a local artist Laura to upcycle into unique art! 


How do you hope to make an impact on the Austin community or world at large?

I hope we can help the Austin community realize there are more ways to be eco friendly and reduce waste than just recycling and composting. To reach Austin’s zero waste goals we need to focus on reduction and reuse, and I hope the Austin Dish Lending Library can help grow a lending community in Austin. The founder, Joanna, first heard about a Dish Lending Library when she was looking for a cheap dish rental option for her small nonprofit event. Unfortunately the closest one was in Canada, so she decided to create one in Austin! It would be great to see more Dish Lending Libraries created in other cities or countries as more people learn about them. 


Where can we find out more about your company or organization?

More information about our free service and dishware collection can be found on our website, People can also stay up to date with us on our facebook page,


November Reuse and Rethink Winner: Hanna H!

This month, we challenged you to reimagine what could be done with a simple picture frame. We’re pleased to announce this month’s winner, Hanna H!

We really enjoyed the functionality of her repurposed frame, as well as her aesthetic touches. She utilized reuse materials such as cork and a file folder in her creation that show the possibilities of reuse! 



As always, we’re continually inspired by what you come up with each month. Take a look at some of the other entries below!

December Reuse and Rethink Contest: Reuse Gift Wrapping

As we rapidly approach the holiday season, lots of us are scrambling to make (or buy) that perfect gift for our loved ones. At ACR, we think the wrapping is just as important as what’s inside! Did you know that each year in United States, we spend over over $7 billion dollars on wrapping paper!?* Most wrapping papers are not recyclable and much of it ends up in the landfill. If each family chose reuse for just 3 gifts each year, the wrapping paper saved would be enough to cover 45,000 football fields!^

This month, we challenge you to think beyond traditional wrapping supplies. What can you use that you already have?

Submission Criteria:

  • 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

Provide at least 2 photos of your piece, your contact info, a short description of materials used, and any social media handles you’d like us to tag if selected as the winner to

Deadline to submit is Thursday, December 31st.


Here are a few examples to get you inspired! We also have a Pinterest board full of more examples!

Starting “wrapping paper” materials


Embellishment leftovers from other projects


Book Jacket


Awkward family photos calendar pages


Map with bias tape ribbon


Watercolor paintings with piping trim






Make: Multi-Pointed Star Ornaments

Tis the holiday season! Spruce up your space with some reuse crafts!

Follow this tutorial made by ACR volunteer Julie K. to make your own multi-pointed star ornaments! Use paper of different colors, embellish with rhinestones and buttons, make it all your own! And remember, it’s okay to mess up a few times – just pick yourself up and try again!





Volunteer Spotlight: Laura Smith

What motivates you to volunteer?

I have gotten to see more types of materials than I had ever thought were possible. For example, I know how to knit and crochet from my family; now, I see instructions to learn to tat, materials to spin wool, and ideas I never knew were possible.  I would already go to ACR for personal reasons, this just gives me more exposure to other people’s intentions.


Why ACR?

The people who have come to volunteer are talented, and I have gotten to learn from them more than any art degree would imagine.  People need to know this!  There are so many ways to get to know humanity from around the world, and art gives a great introduction


How long have you volunteered with ACR?

I have visited ACR since it began, or, (at least,) tried to!  Initially, I had a very difficult time trying to find the old location, but I did because the volunteer on the phone led me to the tiny, hidden paradise.  I went there for yarn, school supplies, and stuff to use for my classroom.  I finally could officially join the volunteers in 2019, one year after my brain surgery.  I’ve enjoyed it!


Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?

I see the conservation aspect as the most important purpose for this nonprofit, (but I also agree with ACR’s philosophy about art.)  Conservation means there is less crap to throw away.  Supplies get overpriced and over packaged, and intentions wind up getting thrown away when someone else could use it.  At least recycling makes supplies available, and affordable.


Where else have/do you volunteer?

I have worked with kids of all ages over the years as a teacher, and I am going through ways to begin concentrating on the students with special needs. 


What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering at ACR?

I love wrapping yarn back into balls, at home, watching Dr. Who from the beginning in the 1960’s to now.  I love sorting things into piles, testing pens and markers, working puzzles to see what pieces are missing.  I enjoy lapidary rock formations, measuring picture frames, and learning the different types of glue.  Shelving means sorting, comparing, and figuring out what fits into a bucket – my favorite place in the store!


Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR?

(I literally have a ton)

Gigantic yarn to ‘unravel’

The day a dozen ‘heads’ with no hair were delivered from a cosmetology school


See some of Laura’s work in our Online Reuse Gallery


Baba Yaga

Simple Thanksgiving Reuse Crafts



Thankful Tree

Thanks Banner

Scrap Paper Turkey


Send Gratitude Postcards

Spread gratitude to your family and friends with a custom postcard made from reused materials.

Step 1 – Grab an empty cereal box, Manila folder, or any other sturdy paper product


Step 2 – Cut out a rectangle roughly 4x6inches


Step 3 – Use paper scraps, old photos, or ribbon to cover one side of the card (nothing too heavy though or it will require extra postage!)


Step 4 – Embellish with stickers, buttons, or whatever you’d like. Make it totally unique!


Tada! Almost there!


Step 5 – Use a dark marker or pen to make the address lines and stamp box on the back of the postcard. Finish with a heartfelt note about what you’re thankful for, and send off to your loved ones.

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