Amplify Creative Reuse for City-Wide Day of Giving

What is Amplify Austin?

We are happy to announce our participation in this year’s Amplify Austin Giving Day 2021! Amplify Austin Day is a community-wide day of giving all across Central Texas. More than 700 nonprofits participate each year, raising funds to support the communities that we all live in. Support the community where you live and join the #ILiveHereIGiveHere movement this March 4th-5th. Visit for more information, and to browse the causes you care about in our city. 



Amplify Austin Creative Reuse

This Amplify Austin Day we are inviting you to help support our staff like they support our community. Our people are what makes Austin Creative Reuse possible.  Our dedicated staff and volunteers have powered our growth from our earliest days and in the last year, they have seen us through an unprecedented global pandemic.  Their well-being has always been our top priority – our commitment to them led us to close our doors to the public twice in the last year as we sought to do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  Our center has been closed more than 6 months over the last year.  We are putting the well-being of our community ahead of our bottom line, but now we need your help.

Your donation will help offset the revenue lost while our doors have been closed. It will allow ACR to continue to pay our staff’s wages and offer paid time off that allows our staff to take care of themselves and their families. It will keep our lights on, cover our rent and buy much needed safety supplies like PPE and hand sanitizer. It will fund technology to allow more staff to work from home during the pandemic. Help us put community first, starting with the individuals who make it all happen.



Ways You Can Help:

There are many ways you can support ACR during our Amplify Austin fundraising campaign! 

  • Donate to ACR. Help us support our staff that uphold our mission every day. You can donate at any time on our Amplify Austin profile
  • Become a Fundraising Champion for ACR! Be an advocate for creative reuse by engaging with your community and helping us fundraise for our cause. Click “Fundraise” on our Amplify Austin profile to set up your own fundraising page!
  • Share your love for ACR with your friends, family and neighbors. Use your social networks to spread the world and help us #AmplifyCreativeReuse. 



Although our doors may be closed, we continue to work hard to fulfill our mission to put affordable creative materials into the hands of our community – and not in the landfill – at a time when creativity may be needed most. Help us support our community this year and beyond – donate to ACR today.

Make: Valentine’s Day Snail Mail


Want to send a socially distant hug to a loved one during the pandemic? Check out our Valentine’s Snail Mail Card Making Bundle at or use your own crafty supplies to create some snail mail Love to send & support our USPS! Our newest Shift Lead, Diana creating the directions below to show your friends and family some love this Valentine’s Day.


What You’ll Need:

  • Scissors
  • Gluestick
  • Paper (we used double-sided scrapbook paper, 12”x12”)
  • Envelopes (any size will work, we used an 5.25” x 7.25” envelope)
  • Folded card for your note
  • Sticker or tape


Optional materials:

  • Stamps
  • Stamp Pad
  • Glitter or Embossing material
  • Paper punches
  • Postage stamps (vintage or regular)
  • Washi tape
  • Baker’s twine or ribbon



Step 1: Gather supplies that inspire you — we are using scrapbook paper and any size envelope.

Step 2: Using the flap of the envelope as a template, let the envelope overhang the corner of the paper by half an inch on 2 sides – trace along the flap of the envelope & cut the paper along this line. Place the liner inside the envelope and adjust as needed, then glue to the inside of the envelope.

Step 3: Cut out a traditional heart shape from the same paper or any you choose.

Step 4: Fold the sides of the heart in towards the center – the trick here is to keep the folds parallel, creating as straight a fold as possible. It’s okay if the sides of the heart are not symmetrical – it adds to the charm!

Step 5: Fold the top of the heart down so that the folds you just made are divided/folded in half and the top and bottom edges of the fold meet.

Step 6: Fold the point of the heart shape up to create an envelope shape and secure with a sticker or wax seal (once you’ve written your note, of course!).

Step 7: Let your creativity run wild! Add any elements you like such as a handmade card with embossing, matching tags, paper confetti, and some baker’s twine to gather your goodies together in a pretty package.

Step 8: Decorate the front of your envelope and add your favorite postage stamps. If the envelope is super thick you may need extra postage.

Here are some other examples of cards created using materials found at Austin Creative Reuse!

February Reuse and Rethink: Packaging “Waste”

February Reuse & Rethink Challenge: Packaging Waste


Most of us have been spending more time at home these days, and avoiding crowded stores by ordering everything we need online. The down side to the convenience of online shopping is all the packaging waste it generates. How can you reimagine packaging into something completely new?


A previous Reuse & Rethink contestant found a great way to reuse her packaging waste – by creating an award-winning Halloween costume! Angie S. turned herself into a fierce Amazon warrior with heaps of Amazon packaging!

Angie as an Amazon Warrior

Amazon provides proper recycling methods for their packaging, which you can find on their website. However, are there other ways you can think of recycling Amazon packaging, like Angie?


What about those freezer ice packs from your food subscription services? Or all of the plastic bags used to carry out food from your favorite restaurants? While we are staying safe by staying home, let’s think about how we can turn the problem of packaging waste into something good!


A Japanese Artist, Harukiru, turns packaging waste into intricate, playful sculptures. We’re not expecting submissions quite on that level, but it’s a wonderful example of turning packaging waste into fine art!



When you’ve completed your creation, please provide at least 2 photos of your art piece, your contact info, including any social media handles you would like us to tag if selected as the winner, and a short description of materials used. Your submission can be made by sending an email to


Your creation should be made from reused materials  — all materials will be available at a low cost (as always) at Austin Creative Reuse. See our online store or schedule a personal shopper appointment today to find all the secondhand supplies you need.


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


Deadline for Submission: Sunday, February 28th, 2021


Please feel free to email with any questions. Good luck!

January Reuse and Rethink Winner: Maria S!

This month, to kick off the start of a fresh year, we challenged you to show us your creative organizing hacks. We’re pleased to announce this month’s winner, Maria S! Not only did Maria repurposed old soup cans to organize her office supplies, she also repurposed wall paper and other embellishments to make them stand out.



Thanks to everyone who participated in this month’s challenge, you all continue to inspire us daily with your creativity! Here is a look at some of the other entries. Be sure to check out February’s challenge!

Shop ACR From Home!

Personal Shopping via Zoom


Itching for an Austin Creative Reuse shopping spree? Got a project lingering in your mind, or a social distanced party that you are planning? We’ve got you covered!

If you’ve ever visited ACR, you know how intimidating the aisles can be. With extensive knowledge of our growing stock and reuse possibilities, our staff make shopping easy. Reserve a Personal Shopper appointment with one of our Reuse Specialists and for 30 minutes, you’ll have a live, ACR staff member available to you via the video conferencing app, Zoom. Be sure to include a general idea of what you’re looking for in the appointment notes to help your personal shopper make the most of that time and your experience as smooth as possible!

Get a behind the scenes look at our personal shopper and online sales process in our Life Cycle of a Donation, Part 5. Reserve your personal shopper appointment today and support Austin Creative Reuse!


Here are some of the great testimonials we’ve received:


Rebecca M. – “I just had an exceptional buying experience using ACR personal shopping.  Barbara was so helpful and found what I was looking for.  From embroidery floss to beads and even scrounge through items in the $5 bin area, all within the 30 min allotted time. (I would have been in the store for a good 3 hours finding everything)”


Alicia Z. – “I have had great luck with online shopping as well. Barb helped me find things for our foster puppy kennel. They love it. And it’s so great to still be able to get art and craft things by thrift”


Niku A. – “I did one of these last week with Diana and it was not only super productive but it really was fun and scratched that itch! Thanks again Diana! ❤️”



Make: DIY Dixit Game

DIY Dixit Game Tutorial!

Do you want an excuse for you and your family/friends to play around with collage? Have a go at making your own Dixit game!

James Talon, one of our talented Reuse Specialists, created this step-by-step tutorial to guide you along the way. There is an accompanying video that gives you 20 tips for creating surreal collages, plus, we also have kits available in our online store!

Let’s get started!

A completed set of Dixit cards, created by James

What is Dixit?

This is a game that relies solely on having surreal artwork on a deck of cards, so it’s super flexible and fun to make, and even more fun to play! It’s similar to the popular games Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples, but think artwork instead of words. Everyone gets a chance to think outside the box in this really fun game!


What’s the game like?

The goal is to get the most points by the end. Everyone gets dealt a hand of cards which all contain surreal artwork, and players take turns being the storyteller. When it’s the storyteller’s turn, they look at their own hand of cards and pick one for that round. The storyteller gives the other players a hint at what their card might be by either telling a story, making a joke, giving a vague one word clue; whatever they want! All the other players look at their hand and choose a card that they think best matches the clue given that round. Then the cards are anonymously displayed in front of everyone… and it’s time to vote!  Points are assigned based on votes, and winners are the ones who have their cards voted on. Complete details about gameplay mechanics can be found here.


Sounds fun, what do I need to make my own Dixit?


Basic supplies:
  • Sturdy, matching file folders (or anything that would work as the back of the cards, such as empty cereal boxes)
  • Mod podge
  • Brushes (for painting and applying mod podge)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Water cup
  • Rag or paper towels
  • Scissors
  • Plastic wrap
  • Something heavy to press down on drying cards (such as a stack of books)

Ideas for sourcing collage material:
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Children’s books
  • Illustrative art (think of art that’s meant to tell a story or convey something specific, rather than art for the wall)
  • Abstract artwork
  • Vintage magazines
  • National geographic
  • Artistic or vintage photographs
  • Wall paint samples
  • Calendars
  • Sheet music
  • Maps
  • Other 2D stuff!

Optional, but helpful:
  • Other collage tools, such as: punches, flat, non-3D embellishments, mats, and cutting equipment
  • Paper cutter (to trim your file folders evenly into cards)
  • Laminator (makes the cards more durable)


Okay I have the supplies… How do I make the game?


Step 1: Trim the file folders into same size cards

After trimming off the non-rectangular elements of the file folders, I divided them evenly into thirds. You can choose to follow the example below, or pick whatever dimensions you prefer for your cards to be!

You need a minimum of 86 cards for a viable deck, but you can make as many as you want!

I used a paper cutter and some rulers because I wanted my cards to be exactly the same size. You could also look at getting sturdy card stock that’s pre-cut to a certain size if you want! The sturdier the better though, unless you have a laminator!


Step 2: Tear out background ideas

I used all kinds of things (listed above in the collage materials list) so look around your house or visit ACR to find more two-dimensional things that would make for an interesting backdrop!

I put potentials in a folder labeled backgrounds. There’s no need to cut them to size at this point in time, as you’re not even sure you will be using them!


Step 3: Cut out interesting characters

This is the most time-consuming step, but it’s also the most rewarding later on. Imagine trying to build a house out of Legos… if you had to carve every single Lego as you were building it! The same principle applies here.

Me and some friends spent some time cutting out characters before we went about designing our scenes. It was totally worth splitting the days, and we were shocked at how creative the scenes became!

If you’re sure you’re going to use a character, go ahead and finely cut out at least the top portion of its head and shoulders so you can easily compose a scene later. For other potentials, all you need to do is roughly cut it out, because you can always refine it later if you decide to use it.


Step 4: Organize characters and subjects

When you’re making 86 cards, you need a lot of organization to do it efficiently! I suggest setting up some folders with labels. That way, when you’re trying to find something for your frowning horse character to wear on his head, you’ll have a folder of objects you can dig through to find a perfect hat!

Suggested categories include:

    • Small, medium, and large characters (illustrated)
    • Objects
    • Symbols
    • Photographic / real life
    • Stickers


Step 5: Arrange a scene

This is the most playful and fun step! So much potential… Should the smiling dolphin man be dancing in a winter forest..? Or on a giant book! Don’t cancel any ideas just because they don’t make sense… If anything, it will add to the surrealness! 


Step 6: Glue down the scene

This is where it pays to be patient and thorough. Using your brush, carefully apply a small amount of mod podge to the entire front of the card, without getting any glue on the backside (otherwise your card will have a distinguishing mark).

Apply your background and make sure there are no ripples. Let it dry under something flat, like a stack of heavy books wrapped in plastic wrap (so that the cards don’t stick to the books, and peel off when dry).

Keep track of your characters since they will be separated from their background for this brief amount of time. I usually take a photograph before I separate them so I don’t forget any elements, then I put them in their own folder labeled In Progress.

Once your background is flat and dry, it’s much easier to glue down the characters. Again make sure that you completely cover the backside of the character before applying it to the backdrop. Any loose pieces will stick up as you play with this deck. Dry your card the same way as before.

If you don’t plan on doing any painting with acrylic paint, you can go ahead and skip the next step, moving right into Step 8, the final mod podge layer. This way you only dry your cards twice instead of three times.


Step 7: Blend with acrylic paint

To achieve a sense of surrealness to your scenes, it helps to tone down the collage aspect of the cards by blending elements with paint. 


Step 8: Add final mod podge layer

Finish it off with a layer of mod podge on top of the entire card before putting it under the plastic wrapped stack of books to dry for a final time.

When your cards are done, you can also laminate them if you have the opportunity! I recommend leaving the backs plain, without mod podge, but you can experiment on a test card to see what you prefer!

And that’s it! You’re done with the art and creation part. Now it’s time to learn the mechanics of the game so you can play with your friends!

TIP: You can try making one card all the way through with these instructions just to see the process, and then if you want to make a lot of cards more quickly, you can break it down into the big steps as I described above, not moving on before you’ve cut out all the characters for many cards, and so on.



Classroom Maker Space Inspires Reuse and Creativity

A Maker Space Provides Enrichment to Any Learning Environment

Through tinkering and creative exploration, reuse inspires the engineers, designers, architects, and artists of tomorrow. One South Austin teacher is using reuse to inspire bright futures in the lives of her students. Lori Dinsmore, 1st-2nd grade teacher of the Whole Life Learning Center, believes in the power of reuse to foster tangible problem solving and hands on learning for her budding sapphires. 

Ms. Lori’s Maker Space was inspired by the engineering design process, encouraging students to design a solution, test their hypothesis, and improve on their methods. This process supports problem solving skills and critical thinking. Ms. Lori also uses the space to promote explorative creativity among the students through art projects and free build time. “It’s more about the process than the product. We are promoting a growth mindset and teaching the students how to improve through resilience.”

Why did you choose to create a maker space for your classroom?

“My students are very hands on, they like to build and construct things with 3D materials. I’ve watched their interests grow in different engineering projects, like working with clay and building spiderwebs from clothes hangers, and I know they are a group of problem solvers.”

What supplies do you keep in your maker space?

All of the supplies my Maker Space came from Austin Creative Reuse, including the plastic bins and magnetic spice containers used to store materials. Some of the materials I keep on hand include:

  • Index cards
  • Cotton balls
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Miscellaneous hardware such as nuts, bolts and washers
  • Wheels 
  • Paper clips 
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Straws
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Plastic cups of various sizes
  • Cupcake/muffin wrappers
  • Plastic silverware
  • Paper plates
  • Shoelaces
  • Tape
  • Wooden dowels
  • Rubber bands
  • Play-doh
  • Glue guns 
  • Glue sticks
  • Plastic lids (found in bucket section of ACR)

I keep it all organized using printable labels similar to these:

Here are some of the projects Ms. Lori’s students have worked on:


Art Project

“Inspired by the book, Snowballs by Lois Elhert, we experimented with using non traditional materials from the maker space to create snowmen designs.”


Free-Build Project

These are not related to a specific engineering challenge. A plan is made for what materials are needed and how the student plans to execute their project, then they visit the maker space and gather the materials they need for their creation. 

The beginnings of a submarine

A water slide

Roller skates

Engineering Challenge

In an engineering challenge, students are introduced to a problem and given the materials to create a solution. Here’s an example of a challenge executed by Ms. Lori’s class:

Example of a completed catapult

Catapult: Make a catapult to test how far you can launch a pom pom 

Materials: Popsicle Sticks, Rubber bands, Pom pom, Plastic spoon, yardstick 

Materials for each group of 2-3 students: • 6 rubber bands • 10 popsicle sticks • 1 plastic spoon • 1 large pom pom (modify with more or less materials to make it easier or more challenging)


  1. Introduce challenge to students. Optional physical science connection: Mini-lesson on stored/potential energy, kinetic energy, simple machine: lever 
  2. Students can work individually, or in groups of 2-3. Students will sketch a plan with their team of their first draft design for their catapult. 
  3. After reviewing design, give students the materials listed above. They can begin building at this point. Teacher can choose time limit for build based on student needs and level of challenge. 
  4. Students test out their catapult and measure the distance using yardsticks. 
  5. After measuring, students go back and work to improve their design to see if they can make it go farther. 
  6. Students present their designs to the class and explain their building process. 
Other ideas for engineering challenges: 
  • Build the tallest tower you can that is able to hold a soup can using only tape and pieces of paper
  • Build a marble run 
  • Create a soda bottle airplane and test out different aerodynamic wing shapes out of cardboard
  • Build a raft that floats out of materials in the maker space, test it out in a tub of water by adding pennies for weight. 

The Recovery Gals Art Exchange

Written By: Sondra Primeaux, ACR Board Member

My name is Sondra and I am in recovery from alcohol abuse. I’m one of those sober people who is not anonymous and I work hard to help break the shame of addiction that keeps the addicted from accessing recovery. I’ve always been a creative person and I’d never valued my creative practices more than I did in early sobriety. I launched a blog in 2015 called The Unruffled as a place to catalog ideas for others in early recovery looking to fill the void that alcohol left behind. In 2017, I started The Unruffled Podcast with my friend Tammi Salas where through self-inquiry and interviews, we explore all the topics that result from the place creativity and recovery intersect. We opened a secret Facebook group as a space to grow our community (of women and female-identified only) and it has organically grown ever since. 

Shortly after the podcast launched, Tammi and I came up with an idea to encourage creativity within our online community. We’d noticed that while some of our members had embraced creativity as either a practice, a hobby or a career, others were less confident. We love to say, “Everyone is creative”. Rebuilding a life in recovery is a bold, creative act and the project was especially for the women who needed the nudge. We called it The Recovery Gals Art Exchange and launched the first one eight weeks before the Fall Equinox. We chose the theme of Reflection for the first one, put out a call for participants and drew for partners. It was like a written permission slip. All art was encouraged and in all of the quarterly exchanges we’ve hosted over the years (falling on the Equinoxes and Solstices), we’ve seen everything from song to poetry, from collage to textile art and everything in between. The only rules are that the art has to be either emailed or snail-mailed and that partners keep the lines of communication open. Partners have participated from nearly all fifty states and from all parts of the world. What started as a project to encourage creativity has become a beautiful opportunity to witness the connections forged between the partners, most of whom have never even met in person. 

As most of the country is still in Covid restrictions for the unforeseeable future, we are forced to rely on our online spaces for community. I wanted to share the art exchange as inspiration for other communities to start their own. My personal exchanges have all been made from reuse, which allows me to incorporate another of my values into the practice. By using reuse, not only are you saying “Everyone is creative” but you’re also saying “Art is accessible to all”. Whether you are in any kind of recovery or not, we could all use some of the healing that only creativity and connection can provide.

Artist: Sondra Primeaux

Artist: Sondra Primeaux


While I’d love to show you all of the beautiful art created over the years by the Recovery Gals Art Exchange, the Facebook group is secret to protect the anonymity of the members. But you can search the hashtag #recoverygalsartexchange on Instagram to see over a hundred amazing pieces of art from women who are out about their recovery. You can also shop at Austin Creative Reuse’s online store for any supplies you need while the center is closed right now. Most of us are still trying to make the best of our situation and I can’t think of a better way than to exchange art.


Staff Spotlight: Blessing Taclobao

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 Reuse Specialist Blessing Taclobao. Blessing has been with ACR since 2019 and has helped us run open volunteer events, move centers, and grow from the inside out. Get to know Blessing a little more and follow their Mini Sensory Board Tutorial made from ACR scraps!

Blessing Taclobao

How did you find Austin Creative Reuse?

I just graduated from acc and I was looking for things to do immediately afterwards. I started looking for career opportunities and found ACR. 


What’s your favorite part about working at ACR?

I would say simply being able to look at the huge variety of things that get donated to us. It’s never a  dull day when you go through the processing bins. I also really enjoy being able to help customers with their craft projects. During my time at ACR, I’ve learned a lot about a wide variety of craft projects. Even stuff that I wouldn’t originally have had a lot of interest in, had I not started working here. 


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

I would say that, truly, there isn’t a lot of distinction between those labels. I would probably call myself a maker. I do a lot of jewelry and beadwork. I do assemblage. I’m teaching myself how to weave and paint as well. Not sure if this counts, but I also do minor clothing repairs as well. 


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

I’m trying to think of an answer that isn’t running errands or surviving. Surviving, I guess. I’m always juggling a handful of projects at once. 


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



Here are some jewelry pieces that Blessing contributed to our recent Reuse Gallery:



About Blessing:

After moving to Austin from Brownsville, TX in 2012, Blessing found this city an ideal space to grow their creative skills and meet fantastic people along the way. Outside of ACR, they can be found making jewelry, modifying clothes, thrifting, hunting for fossils, and standing RIGHT BEHIND YOU. 

Make: DIY Mini Sensory Board

DIY Mini Sensory Board


Make a mini sensory board for your little ones using extra materials! This simple assemblage can be a fun craft to make with your kids, or a great way to use up those scraps as well as keep those little hands busy. Our Reuse Specialist, Blessing, walks you through the steps below.


  • 1 8”x10” or larger picture frame (w/ removable back)
  • 1 sheet of felt (optional)
  • Glue gun & glue sticks
  • A variety of materials with interesting textures (make sure they’re kid-safe, if making for a small child)


  1. Remove the glass/plastic front of the frame. 
  2. Hot glue the felt sheet to the inner backing of the frame and cut off excess.

3.  Arrange your textured materials on the board; cut to desired shape and size if applicable. If using yarn, cut a strand, tie a knot in the middle, and glue all the knots together on one spot of the board for a fun fur patch.

4.  Hot glue materials into place. Make sure they’re securely glued onto the board. 

5.  Fit the board back into the frame and enjoy!



2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
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