Loose Parts Play

Loose Parts offers children the chance to explore and learn using objects that they would likely come across in their own environments. It is also an easy way to introduce the concept of reuse into your classroom!

February Artist Spotlight: Verónica Vivanco

Verónica Vivanco

How did you start doing art?

When I was a child, I learned to crochet and tatting, and at 12 years old I was taught how to sew at school.

What is your preferred medium?
Fabrics and threads.

What drives your creative spirit these days?
The movies, music, other artists, and my daughters. I like that my daughters see me creating things, they learn and have a good example from me.

How does reuse play a part in your art?
For me it is very fun to make my designs with unusual materials, I like to experiment on different materials and create new things.

What compels you to donate to ACR?
ACR is one of my favorite stores, I always find something that I like.

Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?
I have, several: a papel picado samples album: (I used it to make the base of the dress, inspired by the movie Coco), paintings, paper mache skulls, Coca Cola bottle tops, and light cables. I found some coffee bean bags and removed the threads, painted them, and knit a dress inspired by Spiderman.

Where can we find out more about your art?
Facebook: Verónica Vivanco

We’re so glad to have you in our community, Verónica! Thanks for all you do to help give reuse materials not only a second, but oh so beautiful life!

Bruce vs. the “Bucket” Serger – A Reuse Story

We recently received this wonderful message from one of our most devoted fans.  Bruce is a regular shopper and super creative!


Dear Austin Creative Reuse,

I love this place!
Here is a success story I had with a serger I purchased there recently. I actually purchased two sergers there the same day.  The first was in the “BUCKET” area where you can get a bucketful of goodies for $5 for the whole bucket or $0.25 per item.  It was a Hobbylock 787 with the following note presumably, from the person who donated it:
Multiple repairmen could not get this to work properly. Was heavily used and some parts are worn.  Sell as a parts machine.
Working Motor, Good Needlebar, Spare new Needlebar, Good Tension/Width Knobs, Extra plates, All Feet
I already had a Hobbylock 797 so I felt that this “bucket” purchase was worth it just for parts and accessories. When I picked up the Hobbylock, Hali said that there was also another non-operational serger they were about to put out.  I was interested so Hali brought out the Bernette 334D featured in the pictures below.  The ACR sheet attached to this one said that “the motor is shot” unhappy emoticon. Having done considerable work on small electrical appliances since I was a teenager, I realized that “motor is shot” often means that some cord, connector, fuse, or the like is open and the motor does not turn because it is getting no power and that with some work the 334D might be just fine so I bought that one as well.Bernette 334D Serger


When I got home, I looked up the Bernette 334D and found that although it is a venerable machine (read this as very old), people still love it and swear by its quality and reliability. I read all of the blogs on the 334D and in one I found a comment that said if your motor does not run, check the D2MSL microswitch in the foot pedal.   The foot pedal is not a screwed together type but a bivalve (two plastic shells) type and, as I was to find out, is not as easy as shucking an oyster to get open.  Having taken apart lots of laptops and monitors, however, I was undaunted.  I got out my un-serrated butter knife and a flat screwdriver, and after some contortions and multiple failed attempts, I opened that oyster and spied the “pearl.”  There it was, the infamous D2MSL microswitch.  I unscrewed the printed circuit board and in seconds with my continuity tester (actually a Fluke 12 multimeter set to beep to indicate continuity) I had determined that the “normally closed” contacts on the microswitch were “permanently open” just as the blog had hinted.


However, into every life some rain must fall.  I looked up the D2MSL swtich on Omron’s (the manufacturer) website only to discover that it was obsolete and no longer available.  I tried looking for a cross reference to see what the recommended replacement would be but was not successful in that quest.  Again, undaunted, I read the specifications for the D2MSL switch.  Three amps and 125 to 250 volts seemed vanilla enough.  On the Omron site I found a 5A 125 volt/3A 250 volt switch with a nice high rated on/off lifetime of 200,000 cycles.  I went to Amazon and ordered four of them for about six dollars, Omron brand exact model SS-5GL with the specs I had found online.


In a couple of days, I had my microswitches.  I unsoldered the dead switch from the printed circuit board out of the foot pedal and again had to face some unpleasant music.  The solder lugs on the original microswitch ran lengthwise the switch body and the solder lugs on the switches I bought ran crosswise the switch body.  The printed circuit board had the lengthwise slots for the lugs and the microswitches I bought had crosswise lugs.  I could not mount the switch the same way he original had been mounted without some adjustment.   I bent the end two lugs on one of the new switches flat to the switch body and soldered a piece of wire to each normally closed lug as close as I could. Note: soldering is a technical skill and there are lots of YouTube videos and lots of online Instructables and such you can go study if you do not know how to solder.  A project like this is not where you should make your first attempts for reasons of safety as well as for reasons of not wanting to get frustrated.  Even if you know how to solder, I would recommend lots of liquid rosin flux and solder appropriate for electronic use. Microswitch specifications include soldering temperature and time limits in order to avoid damaging the switch.  If you exceed them you may fail at your repair.


Soldering the switch to the printed circuit board with its wrong-way lugs was a challenge for me even though I have decades of soldering experience.  Mounted to the board, the switch was about a half a millimeter higher than it should have been.  That means that the switch turned on later in the travel of the foot pedal than it should have and the serger would power on at about half speed instead of at low speed.  I used some needle nosed pliers to bend the potentiometer arm that actuated the switch just enough so power would energize the motor at the far low end of the potentiometer instead of in the middle of the travel.  Now the potentiometer is at the low end of motor speed when the microswitch applies the power to the motor.  That is, if I operate the foot pedal really slowly, the motor does not quite have enough juice to begin turning when the switch applies the power to the motor.  Note that this is a stressful state for a motor and any serger operator should not dally at this point prior to moving on to where the motor actually turns.  If I were adjusting this foot pedal for a random operator I would make sure that the point the switch engages the motor would be at some nonzero speed of the motor.  Since I intend to be the operator, I will just be sure not to sit at on-but-not-moving.


So, for basically coffee money and some effort, I now have a coveted workhorse differential serger. ACR, I love the place.  Oh yeah, I said that at the very start.  I am still right.  Go check out the amazing things YOU can find in “Bucket!”  Say hi to Carol, the guru machine tester and to Hali, a machine tester guru in training.  They are super nice and quite helpful.  They love it when their customers find some really useful tool at an unbelievably good price and come back happy.
How do I know ?  A am one.  Serge, serge, serge…

We’re moving to a bigger and better center!! March 4th, 2020

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve found our new home at 2005 Wheless Lane, and will move March 4th, 2020!

Please see our press release below for more details. If you’re interested in helping us move, sign up here


Austin Creative Reuse Will Move to Larger Location March 4th, 2020
  • Austin Creative Reuse, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit, is Austin’s most unique destination for conservation, creativity and community building
  • The new Austin Creative Reuse Center will be over four times larger than its current retail space.

Austin, TX – On March 4, 2020, Austin Creative Reuse (ACR) will open the doors on a new, significantly larger space located at 2005 Wheless Lane, just north of the Mueller development. Fans of the popular reuse organization are thrilled to see it grow into more space for donations, shopping, volunteering, community activities, and educational programming.

ACR is a thriving nonprofit organization with a strong conservation mission, focusing on fostering reuse through creativity, education and community building. Hundreds of volunteers contribute thousands of hours to advance that mission every year.   

“Since opening our doors in September of 2015, Austin has embraced creative reuse in every way,” says Board President Carole LeClair. “We were bursting at the seams in our original location and can now offer a much better space to grow our reuse community.  We couldn’t be more excited for this move, and hope it brings creative reuse to a far larger audience across all of Central Texas.” 

“This move would not be possible without the dedicated volunteers, board, and staff who give generously of their time to make the vision of ACR a reality – and the hundreds of people who visit us every day to shop and donate,” adds Interim Executive Director Cory Skuldt. We can’t wait to offer them expanded programming, a better volunteer experience, and another big step towards Austin’s zero-waste goal.”

About Austin Creative Reuse: 

ACR is a successful model of a creative reuse center, diverting more than 280 tons of materials since it was established in 2009. The Center collects, sorts, and sells donated creative materials  at very low prices. The center also hosts workshops and meet-ups for teachers, artists, conservationists, volunteers, kids of all ages, and anyone interested in creative reuse. To learn more about ACR, visit:


January Volunteer Spotlight: Elisabeth & Sadie Johnson

Elisabeth & Sadie Johnson

What motivates you to volunteer? Sadie and I wanted to do something in our community that gives us connection to Austin as contributors as well as an authentic opportunity to practice life skills. ACR is a great space for both!

Why ACR? Our friend Jen recommended ACR because it’s a creative, open, friendly community. The work is multi-faceted and you can choose ways to volunteer that work for you. We love the arts and we also love the craft world and reuse, so ACR gives us an opportunity to connect to all 3 in up AND low tempo volunteer situations. We can get to know folks and participate in public community events like the Viva la Vida fest, support youth maker projects, or process donations quietly in a small group in a closed or open ACR store front. It’s a really flexible volunteer opportunity. 

How long have you volunteered with ACR? Since June 2019

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why? Both. We love to observe art, make our own, and think about the ways donations can be re-used. It feeds our aesthetic interests as well as our desire to solve problems.

Where else have you/do you volunteer? Liz volunteers at Maplewood Elementary too. Sadie would love to volunteer in more places, but ACR is all she really has time for right now.

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR? People are all really nice and there are so many different kinds of things you can do. You can work quietly and alone with materials, with small groups in quiet and loud settings, and in large or small groups in public settings. Plus we are regularly blown away by people’s collections and creative re-use or re-purpose ideas. Human ingenuity is the best and we get to see it in the old and the young. Volunteering at ACR has helped me see my world a little differently.

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

We came across some old cards from someone’s treasured collection one day while we were sorting donations. They made me laugh. What I loved about the simple act of sorting was the time capsule it provided into a style of humor and a tradition of card-writing that’s been lost over time. But someone will buy these cards and do something funny, beautiful or surprising with them and that’s the beauty of ACR volunteering – it’s work, but there are reminders of beauty and humanity in it.

Thank you so much, Elisabeth & Sadie , for all that you do to help Austin Creative Reuse continue to grow!  Stay tuned to see our next Volunteer Spotlight, and please visit  the Get Involved section of our website if you’re interested in becoming a  volunteer.

ACR helps local schools repurpose more than 500 pounds of empty markers


Ask any parent or teacher – – kids go through A LOT of markers!  Austin Creative Reuse has always been a great place to find great quality, gently used markers at a great price!  Now ACR is also helping local schools keep their empty and dry markers out of the landfill through a partnership with Crayola.

Crayola’s ColorCycle Program partners with schools all across the US and Canada to collect all brands of used markers, highlighters and dry erase markers for repurposing.  Collected markers are repurposed to make wax compounds for asphalt and roofing shingles as well as to generate electricity that can be used to heat homes, cook food, and power vehicles.

Through this program, ACR has helped local partner schools save more than 500 POUNDS of markers from the landfill.  That’s more than 25,000 MARKERS!

For more information and to bring the program to your school, visit the Crayola ColorCycle Program here.

January Artist Spotlight: Aren Salazar

Aren Salazar

How did you start doing art?

I’ve been interested in the arts since I could remember. Growing up I was lucky to have parents that let me be creative in some way. As a kid I remember always drawing up outfits in class, which then led me to go to high school that had a fashion design program. I decided to change things up and go to college for photography, as it was something I also loved. But after graduating college and working a boring 9-5 job I noticed my creative drive just went away and decided I needed to do something small that would help me get back in the groove. So after getting a sewing machine back in my hands and visiting ACR for the first time and seeing there was a TON of smaller pieces of fabric that people would donate I realized that could still make something out of those scraps. Resulting in scrunchies!

What is your preferred medium?

This is a though question as I love to work with so many mediums! Right now my preferred medium is fabric for scrunchies. But I also use ACR to find images/ magazines/ books for collages and random beads/ sequins for makeup looks.

What drives your creative spirit these days?

To be quite honest other than the people around me and simply walking into place like ACR I would have to say that the boringness of my job is what drives my creative spirits, haha! It’s really not something that I want to be doing everyday for the rest of my life so it’s been pushing me to be more creative to eventually be able to do something else that’s more creative for a living!

How does reuse play a part in your art?

I strictly only use fabrics that have been donated to ACR to make scrunchies. I only get smaller pieces of fabric so that im helping get rid of scraps and so that there’s only 2-4 scrunchies of each fabric made making them unique!

What compels you to donate to ACR?

I mean what wouldn’t compel anyone to donate to ACR? I do so because you never know what someone else can make with what you think is trash and because it is a place that inspired me to start creating again!

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

Aside from all of the AWESOME fabrics I’ve found I would have to say my favorite find was a cute yellow thread organizer! And kinda self explanatory on what I did with it..

Where can we find out more about your art?

All of my scrunchies can be found on instagram at @scruncharenscrunch and/or @dancearendance



We are so glad to have you in our community, Aren! Thanks for all you do to help keep Austin looking so fabulous!

December Volunteer Spotlight: Valerie Harrington

Valerie Harrington

What motivates you to volunteer?
I like offering my time to help out and give back to the world. As a bonus, it gives me the chance to meet and get to know people I otherwise most likely wouldn’t meet.

Why ACR?
ACR’s mission to reduce waste and recycle strikes a chord with me. The ACR family members are friendly and truly fun to hang out with whether folding material or arranging shelves or pricing items. It’s obvious that staff, volunteers, and board members want to be involved in continually improving on a meaningful concept that is Austin Creative Reuse.

How long have you volunteered with ACR?
I still feel fairly new, but four months now.

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?
More on the conservation side of things, but I’m creative too and think ACR may give me new inspiration along the way. I hold onto things thinking, this could be useful, not sure how, which leads to stuff, which leads to a need to purge. Find a place that’s dedicated to helping reduce this kind of thing is phenomenal.

Where else have you/do you volunteer?
Meals on Wheels
Shadow Cats (feline sanctuary and community cats)
Old Settler’s Music Festival

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR?
Getting to know the other people involved, seeing how they contribute, and just having a fun, satisfying time. Feeling like I’m making a difference, making a little ripple on the ocean.

Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR?
Before Thanksgiving I wanted to find a Thanksgiving token or decoration to take to a Friendsgiving party. Was hoping for something a little kooky that folks would either love or not-so-much. Right before the party, I found a reasonably priced singing turkey up front at ACR. It was love at first sight. And I was more thrilled when I popped in some batteries and it still worked.

Visit to Reuse Center in Seattle: Seattle Recreative

ACR board secretary and regular volunteer Karen Miller recently had the opportunity to visit Seattle and found the gem, Seattle Recreative.  


Caption: Seattle Recreative’s storefront on Greenwood Avenue. Photo source: Ian McGregor




I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel the world in my job as an environmental engineer. When I travel to new places, I try to eat local foods, hike, and visit other reuse centers for inspiration and to meet like-minded members of the reuse tribe.

Recently, I visited Seattle Recreative, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting creativity, community and environmental stewardship through creative reuse & art education. Seattle Recreative (SR) has a very similar feel and history as Austin Creative Reuse (ACR) in that they’ve operated in their 2,100-sf storefront for about five years (ACR has had their storefront for a little more than 4 years and is in 1,800-sf, not including Suite 1301). Both ACR and SR have around 10 employees and process on average 15,000 lb of donations per month. Both centers are bursting at the seams and haven’t seriously pursued business donations due to a lack of space to display the donations.




Marva Holmes in Seattle Recreative’s Maker Space arranging items for a social media photo shoots




Jenna Boitano, Executive Director and Co-Founder of SR, generously answered all my questions and provided a tour of SR. She comes to the reuse world via serving as Executive Director of Crayons2Calculators and serving on the board of The Scrap Exchange, both in Durham, NC. I also met Marva Holmes, Education Manager and Lead Teacher. 








The Playspace has is full of materials, providing endless opportunities for exploration and creativity.


One of the most charming aspects of SR is their Creative Playspace, which is open every hour the center is, and offers an opportunity for young children to develop their imaginations in a social environment.  

The Playspace allows children the opportunity to initiate independent play and explore their ideas in an informal group setting with their peers.







Seattle Recreative’s Paint Playground




Adjacent to the playspace is the toddler classroom where the walls and floor are covered with paper for the Paint Playground, open every Monday through Friday mornings, offering young children the chance to paint to their hearts’ content. 









One of the many creative display solution


SR has a wonderful retail center selling various reuse arts and crafts items. Some of their displays are very creative and pleasing to the eye.











Another of the many creative merchandising displays.














SR’s instructions to create alcohol inks out of dried up markers.


I especially enjoyed the poster with directions on how to make your own alcohol inks out of dried-out markers, and I purchased a marker (only 5 cents!) to make my own at home. (Update: ink has been made and appears to be very vibrant. However, I have not yet had the chance to deploy the ink on a project). 








If you find yourself in Seattle, please consider visiting Seattle Recreative!

December Artist Spotlight: Faye Holland

How did you start doing art?
When I left my job as an elementary school teacher and became a stay at home mom, I spent any spare time I could find practicing my religion- crafts.  I concentrated on knitting and crocheting, but I also sewed, embroidered, made jewelry, made children’s barrettes and peg dolls, orchestrated tons of craft projects with preschoolers, and even learned how to build dollhouses.  But when an artist friend taught me to do encaustic collage with paper and beeswax, and then another friend taught me the joy of collecting little objects and gluing them onto other objects, I started finding that any time I was making something that wasn’t some sort of a collage, I wished that’s what I was doing instead.  Now I spend the majority of my time making 3d collaged Christmas ornaments and magnets featuring photos of celebrities, using hot glue, fake flowers, beads, and whatever other bright and shiny things I have squirreled away.

What is your preferred medium?
If it’s candy colored and plastic, I want it.  If it’s glittery, I want it.  If it’s vintage, I want it!  But I couldn’t live without hot glue..

What drives your creative spirit these days?
I’m really inspired by all of the materials to be found at Christmas.  Everything is sparkly and colorful and filled with texture- it’s all meant for celebration.  All I see are things I want to arrange and glue onto something!.

How does reuse play a part in your art?
All of the most interesting components of anything I make are thrifted finds, from discarded slices of Barbie’s cakes, to broken vintage wooden ornaments.  I keep the tinsel ribbon from every gift and make things from the ribbon spools too.  I need everyone to keep donating their mardi gras beads to ACR!  I need all of them.  And your bubble wrap too!  I reuse as many packing materials to ship orders as I can..

What compels you to donate to ACR?
I feel guilty about every single thing I throw away.  I am so thankful that ACR takes my old odds and ends so that creative people can give them a new life.  And it’s always fun to be digging through the bins and see something that came from my house..

Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?
I love finding rick rack and unopened packages of sequins at ACR that had been in someone’s grandma’s stash for 50 years, but my favorite find was the giant bag of vintage plastic flowers and gift bows I stumbled upon in the fill a bucket section.  Those flowers have made it into so many ornaments!  Before that, it was an old all-wood, unfinished dollhouse I got for $25 and restored into a witchy inter-dimensional portal..

Where can we find out more about your art?
You can find my shop A-List Ornaments at and follow me on Instagram @alistornaments .

It is a true gift to have you in our community, Faye! Thanks for all you do to help keep Austin so festive!

2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Center Hours:
CLOSED Until Further Notice
Curbside Pickup, 10am-4pm, Daily
Tel: (512) 375-3041