Repurposing: Don’t Toss It — Transform It

  • art-toilet-paper

    Scrap 4 Art store manager Karen Wicker holds art work made of toilet paper rolls.

    The Blade/Lori King
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  • Crayon curtains are made of cardboard tubes and are for sale at Scrap 4 Art in Maumee.
    Crayon curtains are made of cardboard tubes and are for sale at Scrap 4 Art in Maumee.

    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 only three days away. 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. Web sites 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, 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 Scap 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, Ms. 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 wardrobes through the years, getting rid of some of them doesn’t mean putting them in the trash.

    “We have purses made from ties,” Ms. 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 chalk board 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.

    Scrap 4 Art store manager Karen Wicker holds art work made of toilet paper rolls.
    Scrap 4 Art store manager Karen Wicker holds art work made of toilet paper rolls.

    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.

    Here are other ideas culled from various sources to inspire you to get on the repurposing bandwagon.

    ● Use an old window screen to hold pierced earrings

    ● Use an old curtain rod to hold necklaces and bracelets.

    ● A formal prom dress with a skirt full of crinoline makes for an interesting window curtain.

    ● That old wobbly ladder in the garage may not be safe to stand on anymore. Try hanging it horizontally and use it as a bookshelf.

    ● If your lamp shades are looking dingy, take off the fabric and adorn the frame with jewels of your choice, then hang it to use as a chandelier.

    ● Remember those toilet paper rolls? Use them or paper towel rolls to organize a closet, storing such loose items as extension cords, combs, brushes, belts, and some rarely used notions.

    ● Refashion old doors into room dividers.

    ● Use door knobs as towel and coat holders.

    ● It might be old school to think of using wine and liquor bottles as vases and lamps, but the idea still works, right?

    ● Use the kitchen cabinets you are replacing as storage in the garage.

    Contact Rose Russell at: or 419-724-7178.