One need only spend a minute browsing Pinterest, YouTube, or Craftster.org to glimpse the ingenuity of crafters, makers, and DIYers at large, and we’re always impressed by the pictures and projects Recyclebankers share with us in Live Green and on our Facebook page, too. Clearly, we aren’t the only ones who love to find reuses for common items around the house! And what’s not to love? DIY reuse projects are a win across the board — they can save money, express creativity, and are just plain fun. Plus — and this is our personal favorite — they usually reduce negative environmental impact. Upcycling something keeps it out of a landfill, and it reduces the resources expended to manufacture something new.
For more DIY and upcycling love, we talked to Jean Reed, veteran crafter and community manager at Craftster.org, an online community for crafters founded in 2003. Over the years, Jean and fellow Craftster members have found many clever ways to repurpose objects. Here she shares her advice, inspirations, and a few favorite projects!
Q: How did you get into DIY projects?
My love of DIY stems from my childhood. Some of my earliest memories include sneaking into my grandma’s craft room and ogling the shiny buttons and baubles organized perfectly into hundreds of containers perched on dusty wooden shelves. From drawing charcoal sketches, to woodworking, and even hanging homemade pasta to dry, I have countless crafting memories with my mom and grandparents. DIY naturally carried with me through the years, and in 2005, I finally found a home among amazing, like-minded people on Craftster.
Q: Why do you like DIY versus buying from the store? And what generally seems to be the motivation behind the crafting community?
DIY provides an opportunity for us to create something truly unique from our own imagination. DIY also allows us to be in control of the materials, ingredients, and quality of the creation. When you buy from a store, you accept the item as it was created and presented to you. You are often unaware of its origin and you have no emotional connection to the piece. As the administrator of Craftster, I know the motivation behind the crafting community varies greatly from person to person. Some crafters are motivated by the undying urge to simply be creative, while others are motivated by budget, the love of teaching others, or the capacity to manipulate and control the sourcing and design of their surroundings.
Q: Where do you get your ideas for DIY and crafts?
I get inspiration from daily life, Craftster, friends, family — everywhere! Sometimes I’m inspired by simple necessity. Perhaps I need to create something to reorganize my son’s playroom. Other times, I might be inspired by a friend whose birthday is approaching, or simply by a random object that is just begging to be repurposed into something amazing.
Q: What are some tools that are worth investing in to do DIY projects?
This could be a really long list, depending on a particular crafter’s interests and skills. I’ll narrow my list down to five tools and supplies I just can’t live without: 1) A basic essentials kit including acrylic paints, colored pencils, paper and glue, of course. 2) A great craft knife. 3) A Dremel. You just never know when you’ll need to turn an old spoon into an epic pendant for a necklace. 4) Glitter, because, well… it’s glitter! 5) And lastly, a camera for capturing and sharing creations.
Q: What are some things you always DIY over buying from the store?
Some of my favorite DIY projects are homemade laundry detergent, bug spray, vanilla extract, and play dough. Again, I really appreciate that I can control the ingredients and the quality of each product.
Q: In your opinion, what are the most versatile common items you can reuse for DIY projects?
In my opinion, packaging of all sorts seems to be really versatile for DIY projects. Whether it’s turning a cereal box into a desk organizer, or transforming a giant shipping box into a “drive-in movie theater” for my son, I can always think of a fun way to reuse packaging. And don’t even get me started on bubble wrap projects!
Q: What are ways to enhance/upgrade something with a DIY reuse project?
Adding paint and fabric is such a simple and fun way to enhance a DIY project. For example, you can totally transform an old wardrobe with a fresh coat of paint, fabric-lined shelves, and new knob pulls. Think outside the box for new knob pulls! Repurpose bouncy balls, action figures, or even scrap strips of fabric.
Q: What are some of your favorite DIY projects, ever?
Some of my favorite personal creations:
Some of my favorite creations made by others: