Recently we bought a new vacuum cleaner. I ordered it from Amazon, and it arrived two days later, carefully shipped in a thick cardboard box. As my husband headed for the trashbin, I called out, “No, don’t throw that cardboard away. I can use it in the studio.”
Sure enough, cardboard — especially thick, sturdy cardboard — is great to use as a drawing board. I often take cardboard, cut it down to a comfortable size, and tape a sheet of drawing paper or watercolor paper to it so that I can easily hold it while I sketch or paint.
And then on Saturday, I sat down at the sewing machine with a couple yards of fabric and a Simplicity pattern I’d ordered from Amazon. I had fun making myself a new pair of lounge pants — my preferred attire for the art studio. As I cut out the pattern pieces I was left with a lot of tissue paper. Aha! I can use that in the studio, too. With a smile, I folded the excess and put it aside.
Now, here I sit in my studio having just finished another acrylic pouring — still practicing different techniques — and to the right of my desk sits an empty container of fluid medium. I’ve already ordered and received more, but what about that empty container? Initially I headed toward the trashcan here in the studio, but then I hesitated.
“Maybe I can use this for something.”
I know I’m not alone in saving bits and pieces of anything and everything just because, “maybe I can use this for something.” Little wonder my art studio is always in such disarray! I have an entire bin filled with scraps of paper. They’re bright. They’re colorful. Maybe I can use them for something.
I have a collection of old combs and toothbrushes, neatly folded pieces of aluminum foil, and lots of plastic wrappers — some thick, some thin and crumpled, all enticing me to figure out when, where, and how to use them.
Part of the problem, I suppose, comes from art journaling. Virtually anything, and I mean anything, can be incorporated into an art journal. So I feel obligated to save string, to cut out words or images from packaging, to save the shavings from my pencil sharpener or the packing material from each art subscription box.
Well, why not? Maybe I can use those things… for something! Re-cycling, re-using, and re-fashioning old things is a large part of the creative process, and there’s no end to the goodies we can collect for future projects.
I’m sure some of the left-over flannel fabric I have will find its way down to the studio. Needless to say every peanut butter jar and sauerkraut jar we’ve emptied is carefully washed and rinsed for later use, either in my art studio or in my husband’s workshop.
Yes, it’s fun to collect all these odds and ends, and I probably will use a few items once in a while. Truthfully, though, I’m not really apt to re-use that empty fluid medium container, and I could probably get rid of a lot of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. But don’t touch my cardboard! There’s no if, but, or maybe about that. I really can use it, and I really will.
How about you? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever saved for an art project? Did you actually use it?