Upcycle that Bicycle! Trash vs Treasure
Last week I came upon a great blog post about repurposing everyday items for use as décor. That kind of thing always draws me in because I’m terrible at it, so I do a lot of oohing and aahing and saying things like, “Isn’t that clever!” and “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Take a wooden door, for instance. I look at a wooden door and think, “Hey, there’s a wooden door.” But someone else saw a wooden door and thought, “Patio table.” They painted it, turned it sideways on something like fancy sawhorses, put chairs around it, and damned if it isn’t a terrific patio table. Take a look: http://lifeonsummerhill.com/creativity-inspiration-tuesday-upcycled-decor
Here are a few more to inspire you:
Many moons ago we had a neighbor who excelled at this. Let’s call her Ms. DIY. Ms. DIY was always doing projects that started out as something dumpy and ended up as something amazing. What she could do with broken stuff and a little glue and paint was nothing short of spectacular. Anyway, one day, the lady across the street put a train wreck of an accent table out at the curb for trash pickup. The table was scratched, gouged, and the drawer was busted. Veneers had peeled off and some were still peeling, curling at the ends like Snidely Whiplash’s famous mustache. The legs were lopsided. The only question in my mind was why she hadn’t tossed it sooner. “Mind if I take this?” asked Ms. DIY. “Knock yourself out,” said the owner. So Ms. DIY did.
Well, you’re a buttercup-smarty-pants, so you already know where this is going, but I’ll tell you anyway. About two months later, the owner of the table and I had an opportunity to visit Ms. DIY. Upon entering her home, my companion and I both admired a table sitting in the foyer. It was beautiful. Yep, you guessed it. The trashy curb pickup.
Now, I can’t complain too much, because Ms. DIY did the work. She did the fixing and sanding and priming and painting and stenciling and whatever else she deemed necessary to make that table a showpiece. Her hard work equaled results. BUT . . . she first had to have the vision. Without that major component, the rest is impossible. Me? I lack the vision.
I’ve thought a lot about that since seeing that door-to-table upcycle project. Hard work is great, but without vision, it will only get you so far. The work part can be taught, but the vision? Not so much. The vision is something one is either born with or not. For those lucky enough to have the ability to look at a broken bottle and see a lamp, my hat’s off to you. I wish I had that talent. I don’t. Just buying curtains for the bedroom is too much for me, because I can’t visualize the end result. Oh, the torment of indecision! All because I lack the vision. Ms. DIY would never spend six weeks losing sleep over all the choices at Bed, Bath & Beyond. No siree. She’d recycle old prom dresses or dish towels or something and—poof!—curtains extraordinaire. And she’d do it over a weekend without even having to open a bottle of chardonnay to calm her nerves when it was over.
The saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” holds true, doesn’t it? And not just for actual trash or dumpy tables, but for other things, too. For instance, my dad never understood the popularity of rock music. Trash to him. Treasure to other generations.
The term “upcycle” was new to me. I’d not heard that before. It means to recycle something for the purpose of making it better than it was to begin with. Now, that concept I understand completely. Writers do it all the time. We may cut a paragraph or some dialogue, or even a whole scene from something we’re writing, but we don’t always dump it. Sometimes it finds a new home somewhere else in the book, and sometimes even in another story altogether. And it is common for writers to take an idea and turn it around—spin it, so to speak—to accommodate the needs of different editors. We recycle and upcycle ideas and writings, because today’s trash may be tomorrow’s treasure depending on what we’re writing. Throw-it-to-the-curb ideas sometimes turn out to be the best ones. I love it when that happens. But how to apply that upcycle writing technique to furniture and draperies?
Are you a visionary like Ms. DIY? Have you ever seen something bound for the dump that you turned into a beautiful and viable item? If you’re a writer, do you save your deleted work for possible later use?
Thanks for hanging out with me. See you next Wednesday for more of the Naked Truth!
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