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Used items are given new life as art

by Scripps Howard News Service on April 07, 2013 1:40 AM

If you cup your hand to your ear, you can almost hear the hallelujah chorus being sung by the winter-weary who are glad that spring is here. And with the arrival of spring, you know what that means: It’s time for spring cleaning.

But hold on a minute. Before you start pitching things in the trash, rethink how items can be used again and given new life by repurposing, which is basically taking old stuff and giving it a new use.

The repurposing trend has taken on a national flavor, with popular HGTV shows underscoring the theme with programs such as “Salvage Dawgs” and “Flea Market Flip.” The Internet also is loaded with ideas about reusing old finds and turning what was formerly trash into treasures. Websites such as Pinterest are loaded with images and ideas for ways to use old goods.

“Our volunteers are creative,” said Karen Wicker, manager of Scrap 4 Art in Maumee, Ohio, a nonprofit organization that depends on donations from businesses and individuals to keep the store supplied with crafting materials. Teachers, artists, crafters and church organizations can purchase craft supplies at a discount from Scrap 4 Art. “Really neat things are happening. One woman takes zippers and makes pins that you wear as a broach.”

So instead of throwing out your toilet-paper rolls, keep them, Wicker suggests. Cut the roll the long way, paint and decorate it, then slip it on a roll of wrapping paper to hold it tight. And as ties accumulate in Father’s and Grandfather’s dress ward-robes through the years, getting rid of some of them doesn’t mean putting them in the trash.

“We have purses made from ties,” Wicker said. “We have aprons and other purses made from fabrics that fabric stores give us.”

Replacing a door? Don’t put it out for special pickup. Consider using it to make a table. And if you’re replacing kitchen cabinets, there are other ways to reuse the doors.

For example, replace the middle with a chalkboard and make it a household message center. Or hang one of the doors in the bedroom to use for necklaces, bracelets, scarves and other accessories.

When repurposing, paint and sandpaper are your friends. Refinishing and polyurethane are, too, especially when dealing with furniture.

Painting an old cabinet door a vibrant color gives a jolt of newness that’s bound to spur on more projects. Spray paint is a quick way to get a job done, but don’t rule out using a brush or roller when that works better. And it’s a labor of love when going over a piece of wood furniture with sandpaper.

Of course, making old items look brand new isn’t always preferred. Sometimes leaving an item looking weathered by time — with that chipped and worn-paint look, for example — is just as intriguing. However, be sure to repair whatever could cause injuries. You don’t want splinters jutting out from wood items.

HGTV is part of Scripps Networks Interactive, which shares common ownership with The E.W. Scripps Co., the parent company of Scripps Howard News Service.

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