Reuse is great for the environment. It can be a great test of your creativity, too. In Better Homes and Gardens "Treasures from Throwaways"-- circa 1976-- this book offers some clever little projects to recycle household items into artistic decor for your home...
But we'll talk about those next week. This week, we'll talk about the projects that perplex... shock... and would make you tell the well-meaning home-owner, "Wow, that's really... interesting, Marge."
Like when you're visiting Marge and she offers you a soda-pop. She watches you with keen eyes as you drink that cola right down. She waits for the last drops of the liquid to be consumed and then-- she snatches the can from you and runs off to her project room, laughing maniacally to herself.
"Er, what're you doing, Marge?" you ask suspiciously at the doorway. But then you look around her craft room and your question is answered.
Tin can owls. There are hundreds of them there. Hundreds. Displayed in varying positions and styles. Barn owls... Snowy owls... Screech owls...
"Gee, Marge," you say. "You've been really, um, busy since the last time I saw you."
"I've got a whole case of soda cans to recycle," she tells you. "And I've found the best way to really use the owls to their advantage!... Come with me!"
Motioning, she leads you into the guest room. And there you see it.
The tin can owl mobile.
Marge turns on her heel and beams at you. "Don't you just love it?"
"That's really... impressive. Um, were there owls in that Hitchcock movie with Tippy Hedren, by any chance?"
You make a note to yourself not to ever stay overnight in Marge's guest room.
"Oh, and did I show you these great vases I made?" she asks. She leads you into her teen daughter's room and grins. "Can you guess what they were originally?"
"Aw, just go ahead and surprise me."
"Tennis ball cans!" she exclaims in delight.
"And those flowers?"
"Tissue paper, cardboard and wire!"
"Gee, Marge, does Chuck know you've converted all of his tennis ball cans into pop art vases?"
She waves it away. "He hasn't noticed yet. He's really into golfing at the moment. It'll be months before he wonders where his balls are. Oh-- but I've completed a few more projects, too."
"I can hardly wait."
"This was for Chuck and his buddies' poker night," she says, leading you into the den.
"Gosh, a beer can table how... different! Chuck must have gained a few pounds, drinking up all that beer."
"No, that was me. I had to. I wanted it to be a surprise. The Bud and Miller were okay, but the Schlitz was a little strong for my taste."
"You drank all that beer yourself? Well, this is starting to explain quite a bit."
She blinks wide blue eyes. "Do you think your husband will want one? Because I have some extra cans."
You assure Marge that you and your husband are pretty good on coffeetables right now, but you'll let her know if you decide to redecorate.
"Well, come see my new sitting room. You remember how boring it was before? I'd wanted something with a little more energy."
And she got it, you assure her.
"Gosh, it's like a scoreboard fell on a bunch of Pittsburgh Steelers fans," you say before you can stop yourself. "Very peppy!" you add, as a clever save.
"The table is supported by steel drums. I have some extras which we use for Music Nights."
"Oh, do you?" You hope your smile doesn't look too strained. The patterns in this room are starting to make you a little nauseous. Black and white numbers are swimming before your eyes. "Um-- I'm not feeling quite well. Could I go splash some cold water on my face?" you ask.
"Sure, the powder room is this way."
You press a cold wet washcloth to your temples as hundreds of magazine models stare at you, looking like they feel all fresh and breezy, and not ready to expel a whole can of cola. Some of the models are peeling off the walls a bit due to the room's moisture, you notice.
This certainly wasn't here before. Hadn't the bathroom been a simple powder blue not long ago? You're starting to get really worried about your dear friend Marge. You step from the bathroom no more refreshed than you were before.
And Marge is waiting.
"The magazines..." you say.
"Oh yes!" Marge says, eyes alight. "Isn't it divine? And when I get tired of seeing a particular cover, I just pull it off the wall and put another one in its place! So easy!"
"You got all of these ideas from a book, or something?"
"Oh, it was such a eye-opener to an entirely recyclable way of life!" Marge tells you. "It changed how I see simply everything!"
"It does seem that way," you agree.
"If you're feeling a little better, come and see what I did to Sally's room."
Stepping into Sally's room, you feel like you've fallen through the rabbit hole. You feel Marge might have almost hit on a doable style here, but there's just something about that armoire that bugs you.
It's the eyes. The eyes on that Alice character.
Alice seems to have gotten into the same beer Marge has. Or possibly something more potent.
"You look kind of pale," Marge says with concern. We'll go sit for a while in the family room."
You thank her for her concern and try to tell yourself, how bad could the sitting room be? Then you see the giant heating pipe snake.
"We don't use this room as much as I'd like," Marge admits. "I don't know why, but the kids actually won't come in here. Which is such a shame. I mean, look how cleverly this pipe transitions into an overhead light."
"Oh, is that what it is?" you ask, waiting a moment or two to see if the lighting bears its fangs and strikes. "...I hate to be such a nuisance today, but do you think I could, um, have a glass of water?"
"Sure. Of course there's soda or beer, as well. I could use a few more empty cans..."
"No, no. Just water would be perfect."
Marge bustles off to get you a glass of water. You can see a bit of the kitchen from here, and it appears on one wall she has made a mural of a tree using harvest-colored shag carpet remnants.
Your head pounds. You turn away from the berber foliage. And now you notice what's happened to the antique typewriter her dad had left her.
It looks like it was a casualty in a Fruit Stripe Gum factory explosion. You are a bit dizzy from the swirling colors as Marge returns with your water.
"I see you're admiring the typewriter," she says.
You take the water from her hand and chug it, then wipe your mouth on the back of your hand. You don't care about ladylike propriety anymore.
"Can the kids still do their homework on it?"
"Oh nooo," coos Marge, like the very thought of that is silly. "It's transformed beyond just a mere typewriter now."
"Why, yes! It's a note holder."
"A note holder..."
"Sure! Say I have something I need to tell Chuck. Well, I just write it on a slip of paper, tuck it into the typewriter, and he's sure to see it."
"So you don't, er, type the messages."
"As I said, it's found its higher purpose now. It doesn't need to do that silly typing anymore." Marge sounds a bit irritated at having to explain this, and a chill runs up and down your spine.
You hand Marge your empty water glass. "Thanks, Marge, for everything today. But I think I'm just going to go home and lie down."
"You mean you don't want to stay and join us for Family Music Night?" she asks. "We've made all of our own instruments. And we sure could use a steel drummer!"
"I'll have to pass. Maybe some other time."
You grab your purse, coat and hat and run for the station wagon as fast as you can without looking too suspicious. You break a heel on your way, but you just decide to leave it. Marge will put it to use, anyway...
Yes, indeed, Marge will put it to use.
- For folks who missed out on last week's Treasure Box Wednesday, where we take a look at collector's books, click here.
- And last Sunday's post, Finding Vintage Romance in Today's Independent art discusses a few artists and photographers out there capturing the romance, beauty and whimsy with their creative eyes. Click here to read that.
Marge won't be joining us, incidentally. She's currently at "Happy Acres Convalescent Home for the Stressed and Strained."
Hope to see you next week!