Blog

Turn Anything Into a Lamp!

 
In this easy tutorial, find out how ACR Board President Carole LeClair turns old household materials into unique lights for her home!

 

 

All supplies are found at ACR!
From our Container Section:
  • 1 Vintage Maxwell House tin – 25 cents 
  • From Architecture Section:
  • 1 decorative globe – $1
  • 1 switched light bulb cord – $1
  • 1 candelabra style LED bulb – 25 cents
From Craft:
  • 1 spool narrow duct tape – 25 cents
From my tool box:
  • tin snips

 

 

Instructions:

Use the tin snips to cut a small slot on the back side of the tin.  This will serve as the slot for the light bulb cord to go through.  Secure the light bulb socket using duct tape.  This was the fidgety part as it took a couple of tries to find a system that worked.  Add the bulb and then the globe. 

Let there be light!  I use this cutie on my back porch to add a bit of late evening mood lighting.

 

 

Here are a few more of Carole’s light creations. Thanks for always shedding light on the possibilities of reuse!

 

Artist Spotlight: Doran Kim

Doran Kim

 

Doran Kim is a junior Textiles and Apparel major at UT Austin and is going far with her out-of-the-box fashion thinking. Motivated by sustainable fashion, Kim took a trip to Austin Creative Reuse that inspired her collection for the UT Textiles and Apparel annual fashion show! Almost the entire collection is made of materials from ACR, including embellishments made from upholstery swatches and colorful plastic folders. Full of color, fringe, and sustainability, Kim’s reuse garments were the finale of the fashion show. Read more about Doran’s practice and see pictures from her fashion show below!

 

 

When did you start creating art?

I started drawing even before going to elementary school. They were mainly figures in different ball gowns I designed. I competed with my friends for who drew cartoon characters better going to elementary and middle school. Although I started studying French literature later, soon I realized my passion is in art and fashion, so I went to London to study them.

 

What is your preferred medium?

I love mixing media. Even when I draw the simplest things, pencils and colors are on the side. Learning about sustainability in fashion and in general, I began to enjoy converting discarded materials into something beautiful. I love hearing people saying, “you made this from what?” Working this way can remind people that the things they are about to throw away could live longer in different forms.

 

What drives your creative spirit?

 Literally, everything around me. It could be my cat lying on a sofa, a random trash bag, news, and of course, fine arts. Working on my collection for the major this semester, I realized that materials influence my art a lot more than I thought. That’s because this collection would not have started if I didn’t find the upholstery swatch books and plastic folders at ACR.

 

How has your art adapted during the pandemic?

During the pandemic, I have stepped out of my boundary and explored other ways to do art. I was not a craft person before but found joy in crafting. Working with limited materials that I could find at home made my work more challenging, and I enjoyed that. As a result, I feel like I have broadened my perspectives on how to do art and fashion.

 

How does reuse play a part in your art?

Since I learned about fashion sustainability at UT, I have only used recycled fabrics and materials except for team projects. It became the most important part of my fashion construction to reduce waste discarded in landfills and remind people of waste generated every day.

 

What compels you to shop at ACR?

The unexpected variety of materials, the hope to make something beautiful out of things that were once considered no longer needed, and the philosophy ACR conveys to the community.

 

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

It is an easy answer. My favorite items are the plastic folders and upholstery swatch books. I made my collection with them!

 

You inspire us, Doran! Follow her on instagram @doran.austinstyle.kim and or view her portfolio.

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Marina C

Marina

Each month, we feature one of the incredible staff members who help make the magic happen at ACR. This month, it’s Reuse Specialist Marina C! When Marina first joined the ACR team a year ago, she spent her weekdays working full-time, and somehow managed to find the energy to work at ACR every weekend! She is a powerhouse in our donations processing area, tirelessly working to get materials sorted, priced, and into your hands. Read more about Marina below and see her tutorial for a DIY Micro-Landscape.

 

How did you find Austin Creative Reuse?

One of my housemates from the affordable housing cooperative I used to live in recommended I drop off my craft supplies to Austin Creative Reuse a few years ago when I moved out and the rest is history!

 

What’s your favorite part about working at ACR?

Cultivating relationships with my colleagues and the Austin community. Exploring donation mountain by sorting and processing items is also a highlight.

 

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

I’m an impulsive crafter and late-night gardener. My favorite mediums are modifying found objects, sketching/doodling plants, and botany.

 

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

Rest and recharge. Propagate plants to share with friends, family, and neighbors! I also enjoy participating in local clothing + plant swaps.

 

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

I wouldn’t call it crazy, but there is a surprising amount of personal items, letters, and documents that are donated. One of my favorite finds was a series of love letters between three pen pals with a great sense of humor from the 1970s.

 


About Marina:

Throughout her childhood growing up near citrus fields in the Rio Grande Valley, Marina learned to appreciate the transborder landscape, food, and botany of South Texas. Her Grandma taught her how to be crafty, sew, and cultivate a sustainable garden while also embarking on spontaneous cooking adventures in her kitchen – one of her favorite quotes she references states how “necessity is the mother of invention” and she still applies that sentiment to her daily life. A few years ago she uprooted from South Texas and set up camp in Austin to pursue an International Nutrition degree at UT, which led her on a journey eventually joining the ACR team!

 

Make: DIY Micro-Landscape

This tutorial by Reuse Specialist, Marina C, showcases how to use ethically foraged moss and pavement plants to create enchanting landscapes small enough to fit in the palm of your hand!

 

 
Supplies:
  • Potting soil
  • Sphagnum moss (optional)
  • Ethically-foraged moss
  • Glass pebbles
  • Container
  • Decorative items
  • Mister for aftercare

 

 

Instructions:

Step 1: Choose a glass container that works for you – either with or without an enclosed lid. The glass section of ACR has a wide selection of containers to choose from!

 

Step 2: Ethically forage moss and small plants from outdoors. Cracks in the pavement are a great starting point! Around curbs and crevices are also good spots. The best time to forage is after rainfall.

 

Step 3: Gather rocks and/or glass pebbles, soil, and decor of choice. You can find all different themed figures in the craft section of ACR.

 

Step 4: Fill your container of choice ⅓ full of rocks/glass pebbles. Add potting/succulent soil and then another layer of rocks/glass pebbles. 

 

Step 5: Add foraged moss and pavement plants as desired then top it off with your decor of choice. If you choice to create one without a lid, make sure to rehydrate your moss frequently and keep in a cool shady spot!

 

 

⚠️ Important disclaimer from Marina:⚠️

Foraging plants can be disruptive and damaging to ecosystems if done incorrectly. The reason I forage the moss and plants from the pavement is because they are struggling to survive in the pavement and heat, which is why I am trying to rehabilitate them. I do not encourage unethical foraging or plant poaching whatsoever.

May Reuse & Rethink Challenge: Trash Flowers

We all know how the saying goes… April showers bring May flowers! During wildflower season in Texas, barren road medians turn into lush fields of blues and reds. Highway shoulders that would normally go unnoticed become photo ops for friends, families, and pets trying to get that perfect shot surrounded by the fleeting blooms. This month, we challenge you to find beauty in the unconventional by using other materials to create unique, one-of-a-kind flowers! The bucket section of ACR is a treasure trove of items waiting to blossom into a beautiful bouquet of reuse! 

 

Artist and ACR Board Member Calder Kamin uses everyday trash to create worlds of flora and fauna that attract the eye and spark the imagination of the next generation. How can you rethink household trash to become a magnificent flower?

 

Img credit https://www.calderkamin.com/

 

Guidelines:
  • 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 (including social media handles if you’d like us to tag you if you win) and a short description of materials used. Email your submission to rethink@austincreativereuse.org

 

Prize:

One winner will be notified and receive a $10 Gift Card to ACR. They will also be announced on our social media!

 

Deadline: Monday, May 31st, 2021

 

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Katherine Kraus

Katherine setting up the beads!

 

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 Katherine Kraus!

 

What motivates you to volunteer? 

I love being a part of a community and helping out with like minded people for a good cause.

  

Why ACR? 

It was very exciting to find a place where I could combine my creative passion with my love of the environment and conservation. I worked in the professional costume industry for years and really did not like the waste caused by my industry and the fashion industry.

 

How long have you volunteered with ACR? 

A little over a month

 

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

It’s a close call, but the conservation side. Finding ACR was a really cool way to find my “place” in a conservation effort. I also don’t think people realize how their random purchases can create so much waste. This is a fantastic way to not let art, craft, and office supplies end up in the landfill.

 

 Where else have/do you volunteer? 

I volunteer at Urban Roots and I help out at Dreamtime Animal Sanctuary.

 

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

I really like seeing how excited customers get about the center and all of their interesting finds. Especially kids, it adds some extra entertainment to my shifts.

 

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

I thought it was funny that my first few days here I was organizing and setting up the bead department for the re-opening… in my last wardrobe job, I oversaw all the beads for the show. Apparently, I couldn’t stay away.

 

Katherine toured with a production of Disney’s Aladdin and was in charge of all of the beading/craft maintenance. Below are a few of the heavily beaded costumes that she spent a lot of time with!

 

Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, the US tour, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin: Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin), Michael James Scott (Genie), Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine), Jerald Vincent (Sultan) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

 

Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, the US tour, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin, starring Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin), Kaena Kekoa (Jasmine), Zach Bencal (Babkak), Colt Prattes (Kassim), Ben Chavez (Omar) and Major Attaway (Genie) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

 

Creative Reuse in the Garden

Incorporate Creative Reuse in Your Outdoor Learning Spaces

Nature is the ultimate creative reuser.  Nutrients, water and other resources are constantly reused in any healthy ecosystem, meaning nothing goes to waste.  You, too, can use creative reuse to brighten up your home or school garden with decorative, sensory or functional projects made from materials that can be found at Austin Creative Reuse.

Our neighboring friends over at Harris Elementary School are using materials from ACR to create pollinator watering stations for their school garden.  Pollinators like bees and butterflies need water to survive just like we do.  Providing a pollinator watering station in your garden will help attract and protect these powerhouses of nature.

 

Pollinator watering station made with a pie tin, rocks, shells and marbles 

 

Creating your own pollinator water station is easy – you’ll just need a few things that you can find around your house or at ACR.
  • First, find a shallow pan or dish – an old pie plate or an upside down frisbee work great. 
  • Next, add a few small items for bees and butterflies to land on while they get refreshed. These are super important! Bees and butterflies can’t drink while they’re flying so they’ll need a little perch above the water. Rocks, marbles, shells, upside down measuring or baking cups and lids from glass jars are all good options.
  • Finally, put the dish in your garden, fill it with a bit of water (not too much!) and feel good about how you’re supporting our environment.  Refresh the water as needed to keep the pollinators coming back!

 

Here are some other ways to bring reuse to your outdoor space with materials that can be found at ACR:
  • Create plant markers by drawing on discarded ceramic tiles or laminate samples with permanent markers
  • Make a garden mosaic with broken tiles and small found objects
  • Create a bunting from fabric samples 
  • Hang a wind chime made from laminate samples, bells, old keys or other items
  • Build a birdhouse using scrap wood or wood flooring samples
  • Make a garden statue from old trophies

 

Garden mosaics made during an ACR Kids’ Workshop pre-pandemic

 

Garden statues created by ACR Reuse Specialist, Sabina Dodge

 

The possibilities are endless!  Be sure to share your projects by tagging ACR on Facebook or Instagram or emailing your photos to us at info@austincreativereuse.org. Happy reusing!

Earth Day with ACR: The Difference Between Recycling and Reuse

 

This Earth Day, we want to share the differences between Reuse and Recycling, and why you should always Choose to Reuse! 

 

 

We’ve all heard of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They have become a phrase synonymous with living a green lifestyle, and many families around the world happily implement the most popular R, recycling, into their daily lives. However, folks out there may not understand the importance of the R we’re all about, reuse, and why it’s always the better choice over recycling. Okay, you got us! Ultimately, the most important of the R’s is reduce. Consuming less reduces the energy and materials expended in the disposal or recycling of an object, but that’s a focus for another day!

 

First, let’s talk about recycling. Recycling refers to the process of turning waste items into new, reusable materials or items. This can be an expensive and difficult process, using large amounts of energy to transport, process, and reassemble recyclable materials. In fact, most of what we recycle isn’t actually turned into usable materials. Sorry if we just burst your recycling bubble!

 

Photo by EZEQUIEL BECERRA /AFP/Getty Images

 

Don’t despair, there’s another road those materials can take! Rather than recycle them, find a way to reuse them. Reuse means to find another purpose for an item that would have otherwise been thrown away. Examples of this include the buying and selling of used goods, repairing existing items, or incorporating an item into a piece of art. Using an object as it is, without industrial changes, reduces pollution and waste as well as raw materials used. There are lots of existing organizations that embody reuse at the local level, like your favorite thrift shop, Craigslist, or the Buy Nothing Project

 

Another local outlet for materials to get a second chance at life are creative reuse centers. While they may not be present in every community (yet!), these reuse centers encourage us to look at things through a creative lens, inspiring us to transform items into something far removed from their original purpose!

 

An M&M’s bag becomes a purse…to hold all your M&M’s!

 

Bottle caps can become pinwheel flowers to decorate your garden

 

Reuse centers are more efficient than recycling, because they require no industrial processing. For the past thirty years, dozens of creative reuse centers have been thriving in the United States and beyond. Some of the larger centers report diverting over 60,000 lbs of useable materials from the landfill each year, while also being economically viable organizations. Many reuse centers are open to the public, creating affordable and accessible opportunities to all. They’re places where tinkerers, makers, crafters, educators, and the general public can go to explore and get inspired. An up-to-date, comprehensive list of creative reuse centers is difficult to find, but if you do a quick internet search, you may find one near you that you never knew existed!

 

At Austin Creative Reuse, our vision is a community that consciously consumes and chooses reuse as a first choice when evaluating the need for personal or project materials. We believe that through the discovery of the reuse of an object, a person will learn to evaluate use and purchase decisions based on the whole lifecycle of the object. 

 

Now, that we’ve convinced you that reuse is better than recycling, give the Earth a big hug by choosing to reuse and visit your local reuse center today!

 

Using Earth to Make Art: Decoupage Seashells

 

This Earth Day, we are encouraging you to use your surroundings to make art. Here’s an easy tutorial to turn natural shells into decorative trinket bowls for your home, office, classroom, or shop!

 

 

Supplies:
  • Seashells
  • Tissue paper or printed napkins
  • White paint
  • Metallic paint
  • Mod Podge (or diluted Elmer’s glue)
  • Paintbrushes

 

Instructions:

 

Step 1

Use the white paint to cover any dark spots on the inside of the seashell. Let dry. Add as many coats as necessary.

 

Step 2

Lay the tissue paper on the inside of the seashell, and glue the paper to the shell by painting diluted glue on top. Rip off the excess tissue paper. Let dry.

 

Step 3

Use the metallic paint to cover up the edges of the shell and to give the tissue paper a nice finish.

 

Step 4

Use as a trinket bowl for your rings, keys, or knick knacks. Makers can also use these as a container or presentation for their goods.

 

Happy Earth Day from Austin Creative Reuse!

Sustainability Spotlight: TreeFolks

 

In the aftermath of the freeze that affected the entire state of Texas earlier this year, many of our trees and plant life struggled or failed to survive. There is one organization in Austin that is helping us grow back – TreeFolks. TreeFolks is a local nonprofit that was founded in 1989. Since then, they have planted thousands of trees throughout the Central Texas area. We reached out to learn more about their organization and their mission. Read more below about our conversation with TreeFolks Communications & Marketing Manager, Victoria Bloom.

 

What is the mission of your organization?

TreeFolks’ mission is to empower Central Texans to build stronger communities through planting and caring for trees.

 

What environmental issues does your organization address?

Trees are beneficial in many ways! We tackle a few different environmental issues including reforesting floodplains to build a diverse canopy that filters air and water while also slowing erosion and creating wildlife habitat. We provide free trees to Austin residents in order to equitably build the tree canopy while combatting the urban heat island effect and providing shade to Austin’s neighborhoods. We are also engaging the community to help us plant 1 million more trees in Austin to combat climate change and renew the canopy through our Keep Austin Rooted initiative.

 

What eco-friendly initiatives does your organization uphold?

We uphold the vision of a thriving tree canopy in Central Texas. TreeFolks focuses on planting and providing only native or native adapted trees that will help the ecosystem thrive. Additionally, we hope to engage the communities of Central Texas in effective climate action through planting trees and learning about trees.

 

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

We hope to educate the community on the importance of the urban forest and tree care while providing the benefits of trees to every Central Texan.

 

Where can we find out more about your organization?

Follow us on social media @treefolks or visit our website www.treefolks.org

 

If trees around your home or neighborhood have been affected by the recent freeze, visit www.treefolks.org to see if you qualify for one of their community programs. You can also read this article to learn more about your damaged trees. Support TreeFolks by purchasing the official Keep Austin Rooted Roast coffee from Mozarts – from April 15th until April 21st, Mozarts will donate $7 to TreeFolks for every bag sold!

 

Happy Earth Day!

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