Today’s the day, the final edition of “Making the Most of Your Polymer Clay Studio.” This past month myself and Ginger from The Blue Bottle Tree have brought you a collaborative series of posts. I hope you have enjoyed them so far. In case you missed one, I’ve put the links to them below so you can check them out.
Today’s article is by Ginger. To accompany hers, I will write my own today and I will tell you how and where you can reclaim, repurpose, thrift, & find some bargains that you can turn into useable & functional items in your polymer clay studio. READ THE ARTICLE NOW.
Does “Vintage” or “Old” Mean Anything to You?
If the words “vintage,” “old,” “repurposed,” or “reuse” are not in your vocabulary, they should be! Life is difficult and I know few people who have extra money just lying around waiting to be spent. For many of us, finding new uses for old things is a talent that we have acquired through skill, talent, & searching! Over 75% of my studio is “reclaimed” things from family, friends, & even surplus stores (my absolute favorite). It’s not an easy job to find & reclaim something, because rarely do they just “show up” when you need them or want them. Finding them often means that you have had to buy it, had a vision for what to do with it, and wait for the right time for it to be of value to you … for some of you, you are laughing because your “finds” could be featured on the next episode of hoarders. And therein lies the peril … there’s a difference between hoarding, knowing when to let go, and knowing when it has value.
My Advice: Find an Awesome Surplus Store
Many of us are privileged to have found that one store where you can find the greatest treasures! For me, it’s Star Bargain Supply. That store is unbelievable! You can find the greatest treasures there if you look. Here’s some of our recent finds we took advantage of for our general household:
- Glass block windows, set of 8 cubes – $12 a set
- New lights for my hubby’s trailers – $4 each
- New storm door – $10
- 6″ foam Padding to cover a bench seat – $6
- Replacement windows for our bedroom – $32 each
This is just a small list, but the things we got there when I was building my studio were some of the best finds on the planet … okay, maybe not, but they were pretty darn good ones.
This awesome counter top was 4 feet too long, but check it out because it has a backsplash and a rolled edge. 24 feet of counter top in a matte white finish $68!
See those white shelves at the top and far right in the picture? Those were also from the surplus store. Each section was a mere $4 for 3 feet sections. All my shelves were built from this awesomeness.
Pasta Machine: Atlas 150. Although not from the surplus store, it’s a $100 pasta machine I obtained from eBay for just $20, which included shipping. SCORE!
Off white solid marble 12 x 12 working tiles, $1 at the surplus store. Score!
Those are just a few of the things represented here in this photo, but I have many more. My studio had a very strict budget and I’m proud even to this day to know that we filled it and filled it again without going one penny over!
Other sources to find some really cool deals:
Ginger’s article offered some great tips on where to go and where to find some really awesome finds. I’m not sure where you’re from or how often you can “thrift” but here’s some other options in addition to the one’s Ginger recommends.
- Honestly, I’m not sure why people overlook this so much, but the dollar stores have some great storage solutions for pennies on the dollar. Not to mention you can get things to cover with clay pretty darn cheap, especially if you wait until it’s clearanced.
- Church Rummage Sales offer great finds, especially vintage solutions that you might not find anywhere else.
- One of my favorites are Estate Sales where you can find furniture, shelving, jewelry components, and some really cool ‘found objects.’
- Summer is coming, so don’t overlook your local flea markets, there’s tons of cool stuff … but buyer beware, the wrong flea market can be expensive and the wrong seller might be selling something that’s broken, so be careful here.
- TJMaxx and other similar stores: while this isn’t necessarily “thrifting,” it can be a great source for some really great items at a significant savings.
- Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade groups: Don’t overlook the internet! There are some great items in need of homes. In many cases (especially on Craigslist) if it’s furniture and it is damaged, you can even get it for free if you’re willing to pick it up and refinish it.
- Family & Friends – Don’t overlook this outlet. How many times has a friend asked you if you needed something they had or are looking to get rid of? Family & friends can be a great sources of reusable items.
Some of My Thrifted Finds in My Polymer Clay Studio
My favorite object in my studio, an old library card catalog. This card catalog belonged to my grandfather. He was a journeyman plumber and retired only to find himself reemployed by a local school system as their head of maintenance. As card catalog’s became obsolete, the school got rid of them, my Pops took this one home. He used to keep joints, small pipe bits, washers, and anything else he used for his plumbing in it’s drawers. After he passed, this was the one thing I really wanted. After some TLC, elbow grease, and painted thumb knots, it looks fantastic. Here in my studio it has a great secondhome and I use it for clay storage … and yes, the entire top half is filled with clay. (Insert big, huge, whopping smile here!)
Let’s not be quite finished with the find in my studio though, because all in all, over 75% of my studio is from reclaimed materials. Also reclaimed & visible in this photo are:
- CANS! Yep, I Mod Podged soup cans with colorful & coordinating scrap paper. You can do this with bean cans, tuna cans, pet food cans, etc and turned them into mini storage spaces.
- Baby Food Jars – I have a lot of friends and a lot of friends with babies who keep me supplied with their glass baby food jars. These are great for storing beads, buttons, molds, you name it!
- Stained Glass Lamp – My mother made this lamp over 20 years ago. For a very long time it was in my Dad’s office … until one day the cleaning lady broke it. Since my Dad is in a professional office setting, the crack in the glass made it unsuitable to stay there. While my Mom wanted to fix it, she no longer had the glass. For me … I turned the crack to the back, and wah-lah! It’s a beautiful addition to my studio isn’t it?
And just so one grandfather isn’t outdone, when my other grandfather passed, I too inherited one of his trinkets from his office. I can’t even tell you what this is or what it was used for, but I’ve repurposed it into a supply holder … The drawers are shallow but long. For years my Grandfather was an avid stamp collector (back when stamps were collectible) and he used this to sort and collect stamps. It sat on top of his desk in the upstairs living quarters of his home. Today it is a home for buttons, chains, feathers, altoid tins, jewelry findings, threading, ribbons, and so much more!
How to Do It
So how do you get started doing something like this? You just do it. Sometimes things will “fall” into your lap, other times it takes some looking. But don’t overlook the ordinary. Some of the things we always save to reuse are everyday household items:
- Kitty Food Containers: These are great to fill with corn starch and bake your beads in! Or use them as catchalls for the extra “parts” you have lying around your studio.
- Cans: Cans of all shapes and sizes can be turned into tool holders, marker holders, mold storage, etc. Just use your imagination.
- Plastic Mini Trays: I’m a subscriber at Graze, where I get healthy snacks for my family every week (click here to try it FREE for one week). The little trays that these snacks come in are awesome for storing tiny seeds beads in while you are working! Or you can do like I used to do, save the plastic container your nachos come in at Taco Bell. Beware though, these are much larger, almost too large for my use.
- Jeans: Don’t throw them out! Cut them apart and use them to polish your beads.
- Jars: We are constantly opening jars around here because my husband loves pasta. But we remove the labels and wash the jars, you can make some gorgeous things from glass jars & polymer clay.
I want to take a minute to thank Ginger from The Blue Bottle Tree for joining me on this endeavor! What a fun journey this has been for me. I sincerely hope that each of you enjoyed this journey too. Leave your comments below if you want to see more collaborative series like this one here on the blog. Don’t miss any of the articles in the series.
Follow the Series:
Fall In Love, No Matter the Size * Making Room for Your Polymer Clay Studio * How To Be Productive In Your Polymer Clay Studio * Thrifting in Your Polymer Clay Studio
Thanks for joining me today,