Tuesday, July 6, 2010

RE: Stuff

The Geezerguy thinks I'm nuts. I just cut up a Kleenex box into neat strips and panels to add to my stash of patterned light cardboard. It will now wait in a big manila envelope with pieces of other tissue boxes, inserts from photo folders at work, cereal boxes and assorted other stiff card stock too pretty to toss.

A couple of weeks ago I borrowed a die cutter from Jen, my boss at
Frontier Movie Town , (a business where every conceivable bit of excess packing material and non-renewable material is recycled) and made about 2 hundred 2 inch circles from some of it. Eventually, they will become the backing for fabric brooches or some other craft item I'm taking to a fair. The strips will back up my crocheted book markers.

I have always enjoyed creating pretty things from throw away material. I once bought a big box of assorted jars at an auction in Tacoma for $3.00. Scrabblebuff laughed when she saw it was mostly dirty Ponds cold cream and very old Vick's Vapor Rub jars. She stopped laughing a couple of weeks later when we unpacked dainty little dried flower arrangements onto our table at the Gig Harbor Craft Fair.

I had used flowers I dried myself along with bits of lace and ribbons to fill the real vintage Art Deco milk glass and cobalt blue containers and they were snatched up so fast we both wished I'd bought more. And I only charged $10.00 each!


When I lived in a stix and brix house I tried very hard to contain my craft materials to a small area with not much success. The day Skooba moved from California to Washington I waved goodbye to him from the driveway at about 3 PM and by 9 PM his bedroom had been transformed into my craft room. It overflowed with found objects, beads, ribbons, and other scavenged materials for making doll house collectibles. My yarn, of course, was in the living room since that is a constant thing; an extension of my fingers-not a craft material. Now, living in a motor home full time, I don't have as much room for stockpiling. (The Geez has no room-if there's space, it's mine). But I still do what I can to eliminate some of the stuff that often goes to waste.

The funny thing is, I've been doing this all my life. Mom used to cut up cereal boxes for me to paste pictures, cut from the Sears catalog, on to make paper dolls. I made countless Betsy McCall dolls that way too. She taught our Girl Scout troop how to decorate old fashioned soda cans with the funnel tops into laundry sprinklers for Mother's Day gifts.

Nana, showed me how to make Victorian button strings.

Granddad taught me how to make a whizzer from a big coat button and a bit of string from the kitchen string ball. (remember your grandmother's string ball hidden behind a plaster flower or Mammy head?)

And how I wish I still had one of the puzzles he made for me after I chose a picture from a Saturday Evening Post magazine
. He'd take me down into his workshop in the cellar and sit me on a high ladder-back chair in the middle of the room so I could see him work but not be able to reach any tools and then he'd make the puzzle. He glued my picture to a piece of wood, coated it with varnish and then, the next day, he cut it with his jigsaw. I don't remember the pictures but I've saved that precious memory for more than 50 years.

My friend Chris is finding lovely vintage pillow slips at thrift stores and turning them into practical, pretty, and one- of- a- kind market bags. She's not only helping to eliminate plastic bags but she's creating a fashion statement that's also a responsibility statement. A plus is that she's also adding an appealing touch to a mundane activity and letting young people enjoy an old world design element.

The Politically Correct, Environmentally Aware, Green Movement is not something new. When I was a Girl Scout we called it Scrap Crafting. We even earned a badge for being thrifty. It wasn't anything new then either. Our thrifty mothers, grannies, and generations before had always made good use of whatever materials were at hand to create something new. WWII had taught an entire generation to make do, make over, or do without. Women and some men simply updated things their grandparents had been doing when they came to America. Things that simply were "what you do".

Look at the beautiful vintage quilts in museums. The "Artists" (they called themselves wives and mothers at the time), saved the least little bit of cloth that wasn't torn or stained from Hannah's outgrown frock or Jeremiah's torn shirt and cut it into squares. If little Jerry was extra hard on clothes or Hannah got caught in a bramble bush shredding her dress the little bits were still saved and turned into crazy quilts made up of hundreds of odd bits of cloth. A hole in the material? Embroider a spray of posies over it to hide the mend. There were no handy quilt shops across town to buy fat quarters then. Even threads used to tie the quilts were often gleaned from old fabrics. I read that one of the reasons quilts were knotted was because of the uneven lengths of salvaged pieces of thread.

A favorite shawl was unraveled by pioneer Moms to make warm wool scarves for her hard working husband and sons when they had to do chores in the little barns on the prairie. Often knitted at night while the family slept, they were Christmas gifts remade year after year and perhaps seeing their final incarnation as a pair of socks.

We have more types of materials filling our landfills now but I think that millions of people like Mom, Nana and Granddad, Chris and Jen, and even me will continue to find new ways to reuse, upcycle, repurpose, remake, upscale, redo, re-create, recycle and reinvent them and make an impact on our lives and the lives of our grandchildren..

It's called Re-sponsibility .

See ya down the road,


Geezerguy said...

Great post. You get your badge now.

Word of the day...tubbe: The beginning of a phrase in classical literature. ie. "Tubbe or not tubbe...that is the question."

spiritualastronomer said...

Right. That's 31 posts in July, isn't it.

Old Newsie said...

As I continue sorting and cleaning in the GARAGE, (the barn is cleaned out, all trnsferred into the garage) I have set aside to be transferred to your unique reusing, recycling, remaking and rewhatever else cupboards, : a couple thousand business cards, a few dozen baby food jars, several dozen advertising pens and penciis,a constant supply of emply pill bottles, numerous unknown photographs not mine, a batch of souvenir newspapers, a boxful of old highway maps and brochures, some back to 1939 and . . there's no more room in this box to list more -send for more and what u want

Yarntangler said...

You can put my name on the maps and brochures. I'll collect them next time I come. Do NOT mail them to me.

The rest of your treasures are your problem!