The Lair

When I started getting into creative reuse, I was thinking about it on a broad, global scale. I went through a phase where I would call my parents and start talking about things they should start doing or saving, blathering about upcycling and reusing as if these were foreign concepts to them (they weren’t). I had turned into a creative reuse evangelist!

Luckily, my parents were pretty patient… way more patient than I would have been with me. When I finally descended from my eco-conscious High Horse, I realized that it’s way less stressful to think of creative reuse on a smaller scale. This led me, before too long, to another realization, the topic of this blog post–my dad is pretty much the King (or Duke, or Earl, whatever) of Reuse!

My dad is a photographer and motorcyclist who is always building things and making tools that make life a little easier. The basement of my parents’ house, which I had begun to refer to as his Lair, is filled with examples of this. I asked him to give me an official tour–a creative reuse tour–and what he showed and told me was kind of amazing.

Here are a few of the highlights:

To help him on shoots, my dad adhered the lid of a spraypaint can to a dollie so that he could carry a dropcloth stand. Clever!

This tool was made out of metal scraps and old machine parts. It holds a flash to a light stand.

Part of a maple cabinet has been refashioned into a platform which mounts onto a tripod and holds a digital camera and a film camera at the same time. He made this when he first went digital.

Some of the upcycled creations that most interested me were those that ended up on motorcycles–motorcycles that he actually still rides!

Below are some “Before” pictures of some alloy and a paintbrush.

Aluminum alloy

When this paintbrush fell apart, the bristles became a tool for brushing metal flakes and dust off of machinery. The handle has had a much more interesting reincarnation!

For a while, my dad said he had been having troubles with his speedometer. He would keep fixing it and it would keep breaking. So he decided to take a bicycle speedometer and affix it to the motorcycle. To do this, he used the alloy to fasten a magnet to the wheel (the extent of my understanding is that the magnet passes by a sensor on the bike every time the wheel turns, and somehow measures speed) and sawed off part of the paintbrush handle to attach the speedometer to the motorcycle frame. The result:

It's not the best picture, but the bright thing on the center of the wheel is the alloy with the magnet attached. The black cylinder has the other part of the speedometer on it, and is attached to the frame.

A perfectly functioning speedometer! Made out of a paintbrush handle that no longer looks like a paintbrush handle! I’m impressed.

On the subject of motorcycles, here’s one more example of real ingenuity on his part.

When my parents first moved into their house, it still had a laundry chute. They decided they didn’t need it, so my dad removed it and has, for the past 25 years or so, been using the steel for other things…

Part of a laundry chute.

…like for attaching a speedometer magnet to my brother’s motorcycle.

The laundry chute lives on to hit the open road!

Some other projects:

An iron bedframe has been cut up and made into a handy lever.

Baby food jars (probably decades old) are used to hold smaller bits.

It's not in the Lair, but still cool: he made me a bike stand out of some old wood pieces and a scrap of rubber rug pad.

I always knew my dad was creative, but I thought of his creativity more in the artistic sense, pretty much limited to photography. It didn’t occur to me that all these makeshift tools and pseudo-inventions were more than thrifty tinkering. There is certainly an element of thrift, but mostly, it’s about creative resourcefulness.

The man himself, in his workspace. I had to keep telling him, "No, that stuff is really cool! It has to be in the picture."

When something breaks, lots of times we to rely on a store or a service to fix it, whatever it is. It must be so liberating to live life creatively reusing, spending less money and demanding less of the environment. Standing with him at his work table, looking at how he’d transformed a paintbrush handle into a motorcycle part, I felt very inspired.

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About Kerry

One of the founders of Creative Reuse in Atlanta!
This entry was posted in Creative Reuse, Profiles, Tips and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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