Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The danger of successful DIY projects

It's the chain reaction.  It began with wanting to throw away less trash, so that now we do lots and lots more canning.  Managing all those canning jars in the kitchen turns out to be a pain in the . . . in the legs, because I spend too much time running cans up and down stairs to and from the basement shelves.  

So I got a piece of lumber I no longer needed, cut it to size with the old circular saw, painted it with leftover paint . . . 
. . . and voila!  A few more kitchen cupboard shelves, set at just the right heights for one-cup sized, pint-sized, and quart-sized canning jars.  There will be less stair-running now.  What could be the problem with this?

On a slightly more ambitious note, I finally got around to making myself a new bag (the style is sort of combination purse/briefcase/backpack).

I think it came out looking really nice.  I used some upholstery fabric I'd gotten at a church basement yard sale (the "fill a bag for a dollar" kind); that was my only expense.  Everything else was scrounged from other bags and such that seem to pass through the house.  I'd saved a motley assortment of straps, zippers, and fasteners.  I even had some gold/tan colored string that made perfect piping around the front of this bag.

Check this out: if you lift up the front flap, you see this (more zippers and fasteners):
Can't see it all?  Here's an annotated version.

I even love the selvage fringe (the unfinished edge of the fabric) that become the flap of my phone holder.

So, what's the danger with making my own bag?  Or my own shelves?

Part of the danger is that things don't always come out the way we want.  I'd spent a day (and $4 for some fabric) on an earlier version of a bag, and I'll just mumble my way past the fact that it didn't turn out quite so well.   Ahem.

Moving on. . . did I show you any pictures of the bag that came out well?  Yes, I thought I did.

And the danger of that successful project is this:  it is that making treasures out of trash encourages hoarding trash.   The odds and ends.  The "I just might be able to use this someday" kind of stuff that seems to lurk among the corners, closets, and drawers in this house.

For one thing, there is the closet full of paint.  This tower o' tint happens to sit precariously close to my husband's army clothes.  Perhaps not the best location.

There is the colorful, well organized collection of thread that will last me until I am 137 years old.  (I should know; I inherited my grandmother's thread still on their wooden spools, and I intend to pass what remains of them along to my future grandchildren).
The pin cushion the size of a soccer ball, with more craft-fetishes hidden at the back of the drawer . . .
The bottles of paints, the rolls of tape, . . .
The drawers of string and fabric and . . . well you get the idea.  

And this particular flurry of household creativity started out with trying to make less trash, remember?  To meander in a minimally material way through our everyday lives.

But every successful trash-to-treasure project just encourages me to want to hoard more stuff, because it just might someday be more treasure.



  1. "I feel your pain." I know I won't live long enough to use up all my stuff, and there won't be enough time for me to complete all the projects I want to. But I guess the joy is in the journey, and we'll be judged on the intents of our hearts. Keep up the good work. Very impressive bag!

    1. Thanks much! And happy belated anniversary -- 25 years is really something to celebrate! -MM

  2. I'm in awe of that bag! Also your organization. Growing up we had a closet that was full of all the stuff, and without organization sometimes we'd have to go out and buy stuff just because we couldn't find it.

    You would not believe the number of toilet paper rolls we have waiting for the school to ask for them. I suspect they may never ask. Similarly with shoe boxes, though we have had occasion to use those for school projects.