Let’s open up the
project portfolio, shall we? It’s time
to have a little fun with found objects…
Since moving into my perfectly imperfect old house, I have
to admit that the concept of recycling has taken on new meaning. Previously, I was a person who prided herself
on sorting my paper and plastic, using my faux-fabric shopping bags whenever I
had the chance…but it kind of stopped there.
When it came to an addition to my home, I might get creative with my
materials and make/build something from scratch, but most of those materials were
bought brand-new and built up from there.
I liked the idea of going green, but I didn’t necessarily apply it to my
home design, because let’s face it–it was really easy to walk into the craft
store, hop online, or hit Lowes or Home Depot and get everything that I needed for
my next “big idea” in one stop. Digging
and collecting what might make a decorating statement took time, and usually
between soccer, dance, life, and the like, time was/is something that is in
very short supply for an active family of five like ours.
After we settled into our current abode, I began to look at
this reusing and recycling concept in a different way. It started with the notion that our house,
which we dearly love despites its eccentricities and unending projects, is a
pretty significant example of recycling at its finest. We love our home, just like the couple dozen
other occupants who have lived and loved here for almost a century, but we
fully expect it to live beyond our adventures to be loved and cared for by who
knows how many others that might occupy it in the future. I once read that you don’t own an old house,
you are merely a caretaker for the generations to come, and I find great truth
in that declaration. And once you decide
that your house is a piece of recycled art, it is not hard to translate that
notion to furniture, textiles, and found materials, because everything begins
to look like something that can be made new again.
It also doesn’t hurt that my 11-year old daughter is a yard
sale princess. Thursday, Friday,
Saturday morning…we head in a variety of directions about town doing our thing,
while she sits in the back seat of the minivan with the trained eye of a bargaining-hunting
hawk looking for the tacked-up slip of cardboard announcing a sale around the
corner scheduled for the current weekend.
And she fascinates me with the care and patience she takes going past
each card table full of trinkets, every mismatched display of someone else’s
castaways looking for the perfect item to take home and cherish…her fastidious
tag sale persona inspires me to give new life to something that has already
served its time.
So in light of this “go green” philosophy, I present to you
three recent projects that involved re-cycling, re-using, and, if I do say so
myself, beautiful re-sults:
1. Tureen Terrarium: This terrarium was inspired by a vendor at
the Congress Park craft fair last summer whose name I did not catch but who had
a really unique way of reinventing a form of gardening my grandmother
introduced to me when I was twelve. Her
containers were so interesting that the kids and I came home and made our own…the
main prerequisite being that the container had to be something we found in the
house. This mini glass tureen I bartered for at
a yard sale and used years ago to display colorful candy in for a spring party…now
it dresses up my dining room table all year round with a living, textural
design element that brings life to the table even in the middle of winter.
1. Warm and Woolly Sweater Accent Pillow: Have any sweaters you don’t wear anymore but can’t bring
yourself to send them off to goodwill? Make them
into pillows for every room of your house instead. One of my ace sewing/knitting friends gave me
the key to this project–measure how big a piece of the sweater you will need
for your pillow, then add an inch in every direction and sew a continuous line
around it before you make any cuts in your sweater. This prevents the knit from unraveling and
then you can treat your sweater just like a thick piece of cloth. In this instance, I used the unfinished
panels of a sweater I had been knitting for my son to make a great statement on
our living room chair–and although he was a bit disappointed I never got around
to finishing his pullover, he likes the idea that this is his special pillow to
watch tv with.
Miniature Toy Art Shadow Boxes: Did your children
ever receive any toys, especially when they were little, that warmed your heart
every time you saw them? And then of course
those same children grew up and got bored with said item and tossed it
aside? Time to turn that piece of parent
nostalgia into a bit of art. These cards
were a part of a memory game my daughters received from a distant relative when
they were preschoolers, and I was fascinated with all of the intricate little
pictures on each card. In order to
justify keeping them in my house, I painted unfinished wooden shadow box frames
with leftover paint from my hall bathroom and adhered one card to the back of
each, forming a trio of frames that look perfect in the narrow space I needed
to fill. The same could be done with any
memory item, not just a flat piece–a rattle, figurine, shoe…the possibilities
are endless, and not only is the end result unique to your family, but
interesting to look at as well.
So the point here is that it is time for us to look beyond
all that is new and shiny and start doing a little shopping in our own basement
(or quite possibly our neighbor’s discard pile) for the latest fabulous
addition to the place we each call home.
I hope these ideas get your wheels turning…remember, the sky’s the limit
to what you can come up with when you go green!