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One Man’s Trash // Recycled Art Inspiration

In the basement of my parents’ house there is a huge workshop where my dad and grandfather spent countless hours tinkering and piddling.  When my grandparents moved in with my parents in 1992, two men who could fix anything that was worn out or broken combined enough tools and do-dads to stock a small hardware store.  We’re not talking a few Folgers cans of cement nails folks, but shelves and drawers full of meticulously archived and labeled tools, cables, extension cords, circuit boards, microphones (?!), and every kind of mechanical and electrical gadget or device ever invented. After he passed away in 2001, we were left to speculate about what compelled my grandfather to preserve dozens of telephone cords, organized by length, in large plastic tubs.  And four fax machines, circa 1983.  But if a neighbor ever needed to borrow something, regardless of how obscure the request, all he had to do was go downstairs to get one.

Slightly more mysterious than the reasons my grandfather saved all of these items to begin with, was why my parents and grandmother never touched or parted with any of it, ever.  There in my parents’  basement it has remained untouched all these years, as if he just ran to Home Depot to get a different size cable connector.  I suppose it was preserved for the very same reason he preserved it:  it was meaningful to him.  I confess I had little appreciation for the overwhelming contents of his workshop until I opened small hands big art a few years ago. What once made me hyperventilate suddenly filled me with the excitement of a six year old at Disney World.  I have since hauled out multiple SUV loads of the most unusual and {to the untrained eye} seemingly useless odds & ends, and our students now creatively repurpose all of his little gadgets into wonderful works of art. Every single thing is put to good use, even the microphones.  Still not sure what to do with the telephone cords…

We recently took an excursion to the coolest “creative re-use” center in Hickory, NC called the ReSource Warehouse & Gallery.    It is operated by the Safe Harbor Rescue Mission and the funds generated from the warehouse help to offset the costs of the rescue mission programs.  Local artists and individuals from the mission sell amazing artwork created out of donated items, and there is a big warehouse of odds and ends available for purchase, very inexpensively.  Definitely worth a trip for anyone headed in that direction!  I can’t believe we don’t have a creative up-cycling place like this already in the Charlotte area!  Helll-loooooo!

 A piece of artwork for sale at the ReSource Warehouse.

We scored quite a pile of loot, and although we managed to talk ourselves out of the tangled mass of rusty bed springs and box of loose piano keys, I couldn’t leave without these sewing machine bobbins!   Not sure what to make with them, but I love them strung together just the way they are!

So don’t throw out those old bedsprings!  Click here for a directory of Creative Re-Use Centers across the country, and give a little extra thought to how you dispose of your “trash”.