Beauty, the second time around

Investing in do-it-yourself projects can represent a more conscious approach to life.

Old window and picture frames are charming decor pieces by themselves. (photo credit: NECHAMA JACOBSON)
Old window and picture frames are charming decor pieces by themselves.
(photo credit: NECHAMA JACOBSON)
Reusing, repurposing, repairing and all such “re’s,” are so much more than a series of fun, do-it-yourself projects and activities: They can represent a different approach to life; a lifestyle of sustainability, innovation and consciousness of one’s environment.
Today’s culture of over-consumerism, coupled with the commonplace use of numerous disposable products, has developed to provide a sort of ease for the busy modern man and woman.
Many of us as children were not taught to conserve, salvage or repair; nor were we taught such skills that would allow and empower us to do so.
But when attempting at a more conscious, holistic and sustainable way life, then reusing, repurposing and repairing are essential.
Learning how to view broken objects or discarded materials as having new potential has become a popular trend in home décor.
Empty wine or whiskey bottles are repurposed as flower vases or candle holders; an old window becomes a charming frame for a mirror; an ordinary clay pot takes on new life with a vibrant coat of yellow stripes. Examples of such simple and effective projects abound online. They are admired for their originality, charm and inventiveness and elicit a certain nostalgia, through both “bygone” processes and homemade products.
But from a more practical perspective, repurposing is the obvious choice for anyone on a budget or trying to save.
Novice DIY-ers can begin by attempting to repair their own damaged or broken things. Next time you are about to throw out an item with minor damage, or are considering hiring a professional to do a simple repair task: Stop and consider the possibility that you can actually do this and that it will be fun, stimulating and rewarding. Take a picture of the task at hand and visit your local hardware store. Hardware store staff are knowledgeable and helpful. They will advise you as to what you will need to execute your repair job.
Initial purchases may be expensive, but you can learn with time how to purchase wisely, substitute products and make use of what you already have at home. Repair tasks may vary from regluing and renailing a wobbly chair leg to replacing it completely. Wood from a carpenter’s workshop is expensive, but luckily for us DIY-ers, discarded scraps and planks of wood are prevalent. By using discarded materials you are not only saving money but are contributing towards the conservation of resources. Each reused raw material means no further draining precious resources with new demand. Sawing your salvaged wood piece to size, sanding and staining it is not as daunting as it seems and is a skill that can be acquired through online tutorials and practice. Consider investing in some simple power tools. An electric drill is essential in every home. You should next consider purchasing such basic tools as a jigsaw, rotary saw and an electric sander. They are worthy investments and a DIY-er’s best friend.
Your next step towards developing your DIY eye is to look around your house or neighborhood for broken or unwanted things to repurpose. You need not despair when you break a precious vase or serving dish. Those seemingly useless little pottery chips are what beautiful mosaics are made of. Old teapots make charming pots for potted plants, as does anything from old boots to bathtubs, and virtually any holding vessel. If you ultimately find that you have things about the house that you no longer need, then pass them along. Local community groups online, such as JerusalemReUseIt or the Tel Aviv FreeCycle Network on Yahoo, provide excellent forums to pass along your old stuff while finding things that you really need.
So if you have aspirations towards beginning a journey towards sustainable and mindful living, start right now. Start by reevaluating how you look at the world around you and take note of the surplus of things available. You will acquire new empowering skills and a stimulating, creative outlet. Make the decision to stop buying, stop consuming and start reusing and repairing.
The writer is the owner of Trumpeldor Vintage clothing, on Jerusalem’s Nissim Bachar street, and an avid DIY home and event decorator.