INGENUITY AT WORK

Resources for Special Tips, Tools, and Articles to Conquer Precision.

Repurposing, dumpster diving, and trash picking have a new label thanks to good old American ingenuity and wordsmithing. "Upcycling," as it's called, has taken the DIY community by the tool belt, giving professionals and hobbyists an interesting and inventive outlet for their creativity.

There's a skill involved in looking at what most people would consider a piece of junk and see a useful or interesting work of art. It's one thing to see a chair sitting on the side of the road and think that with some sand paper, elbow grease, and a little bit of paint it would look fabulous in your office; it's something else entirely to be inspired by old beer bottles because they would make a cool lamp or that some old keys would make a handy key hook.

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Upcycling isn't a new concept. Some of the more innovative examples of the craft came from the 1930s and 1940s when many people in America lacked disposable income and couldn't afford to buy the things they needed. Old doors were made into dining room tables and blown out tires on the side of the road were made into buckets, among other things.

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While upcycling isn't a new concept, recycling is. Recycling, however, breaks materials down so that they can be made into newer, often lesser quality, consumer products. Upcycling doesn't break down the materials, but instead repurposes them into a new and sometimes more advantageous item.

motorcycle_lamp3Along with thriftiness, the appeal of upcycling today also has an artistic and aesthetic attraction, not to mention its positive impact on the environment. Items that would normally end up in a landfill or at the dump are being repurposed into something practical. Artists have found the upcycling trend to be particularly lucrative and of interest to art buyers. The website Etsy is full of artists who are making and selling "found item art," as are many art galleries. Depending on the artist you'll find works of art ranging from the bizarre, such as Dali's "Lobster Telephone" to a more useful lamp made from motorcycle parts.

If you're looking for ideas of your own, Pinterest is a good place to start along with websites like upcyclethat.com that are dedicated to the art and practicality of upcycling.

If it's your first time venturing into this area of creativity, you may want to start small with something like cork gnomes, teacup candles, and light bulb decorations. You can always work your way up to the Boeing 737 engine chair later.

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After a few hours of scrolling through some of the pages on these websites, it won't be long before you find yourself slowing down as you drive through neighborhoods on trash day and suggesting a trip to the dump for date night. It's a tough bug to shake once you have it.

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