Trash Day: shoes

I’ve been peevish and cranky and egregiously non-productive for much of the past week. Until today, it’s been too hot for (my) comfort, and I hadn’t slept well because of it. On top of that, I’ve had one hell of a time dealing with computer- and communications-related nonsense this week. Never mind what Mercury is actually doing; it’s in serious retrograde here at LOLCat Manor (and I say this as someone who thinks astrology is bullshit).

I’m absolutely certain I took a “Before” photo of the shoes I used for today’s Trash Day project, but it’s nowhere to be found. I have in-progress and finished shots, but I’m missing that first pic of the shoes in all their scuzzy glory.

To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure I took another pic of them months ago, when I first got the idea to do something creative with them, but I can’t find that picture, either. I suspect it’s on the other computer–which is downstairs, is not turned on, and doesn’t have a modem so I can’t easily upload the pic even if I have it. And I’m bone-tired, and nobody’s reading this anyway, so screw it.

However, if you are reading this (you poor dear!), imagine a pair of unadorned ladies’ slides from Eddie Bauer, manufactured at the dawn of this century. In their original state, they were a celery-green nubuck suede that went from zero to filthy in about three wearings, and thus ended up relegated to “around the house” status.

Fast-forward several summers. The shoes now look like absolute hell–far too gross to donate to Goodwill. But they’re well-nigh indestructible. They simply won’t fall apart, so I can’t throw them away with a clear conscience. What to do?

Paint them, of course. Having nothing to lose, and suspecting that shoe-painting could be the ideal way to deal with other sad-yet-serviceable footwear, I broke out the acrylics and went at them.

Let me tell you this: nubuck suede loves acrylic paint. Loves. It. After two layers of gray base coat, the shoes already looked much better. Almost presentable, in fact. I could have simply painted them a favorite solid color and left it at that–and I probably should have. But I got it in my heat-addled and sleep-deprived brain to attempt something really colorful and weird–just because.

I had a vague image in my head of what I wanted, so I roughed in a design in various shades of gray, then started applying color:

And after far more futzing around with them than I’d actually planned on (story of my creative life, I tell you), they got to this point before I called it a day:

Verdict? Too many colors. If I don’t simply paint them over in a solid color or simple stripes, I’ll at least mitigate the clown factor. That these shoes are already size-10 gunboats, and are even bigger-looking due to the thick soles and squarish toes, means they went straight into Bozo territory at the start and never came back. And as much as I love color, these won’t actually work with anything in my wardrobe. So they’ll remain around-the-house shoes until I figure out a way to declowntaminate them, or else repaint them entirely.

However, I do think paint could be a great solution for some of my older and/or dowdier leather shoes. So I will definitely conduct further experiments in shoe-painting (and I swear the next attempt will yield far less cracked-out results).

Trash Day: beer cans

I live in a neighborhood populated mainly by college students and other younglings who are new to the finer points of trash disposal (which is why I have such easy pickings). Among their favorite pastimes is celebrating their newly-minted adult identities by getting shitfaced drunk. So finding a use for the squashed beer cans that litter the neighborhood was inevitable.

As you can see, the kids have crap taste in beer, plus a fondness for alco-pop. :

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Trash Day: Target bag

I’m supposed to post my experiment with the Target bag today, but I’m postponing it until tomorrow.

First, the light is too poor to photograph the results I have so far. Second, while my neck is much better, I can tell that spending the computer-time required to edit the photos I do have and write a coherent post is going to mess me up again.

Third? I’m rather disappointed with my results so far. What I did really was an experiment, and while I’ve learned some important things that will translate into future work, aesthetically it’s…nothing to write home about. I’m rather grouchy about the whole thing, so I’m better off stepping away from it for the evening and giving it a fresh look in the morning. In the meantime, I have a gigantic brisket that’s nearly done slow-cooking, too many ripe avocadoes for comfort, and a sneaking suspicion that dinner will improve my outlook immensely.

One thing has made me happy this Trash Day, however: I got my stash of materials for future projects in order. Once I got the idea to do Trash Day, I began to set aside any interesting trash that seemed to have potential. For better or for worse, I’m one of those people who sees the potential in just about anything–so the situation was getting way out of hand. Not wanting to be the subject of a Very Special Episode of Hoarders, I took some time this morning (while getting the actual trash ready to go out) to organize my trash stash and find a suitable place to put it all. Much better! Now, if I can just get the rest of my studio in order…

Trash Day: avocado netting

I buy avocadoes at Costco, in a green net bag that holds five avos. I usually go through a bag a week, so I’m always playing with that net bag, stretching it this way and that, wrapping it over things to see what I might be able to do with it. But I’ve never actually done anything with it. So this week’s Trash Day project? Remedy that situation.

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Trash Day: cat food carton

There are eight cats currently in residence here at Chez Magical Realist. Needless to say, they eat a lot. (They also poop a lot, but that’s for another Trash Day post).

They’re on a wet-only diet, so we go through a lot of canned food. And I mean a lot of canned food. In a normal week, the six younger cats will consume 63 cans of it. Once in a while they’ll eat everything in sight for a day or two, so 70 cans in a week is not unheard of. Then there’s the 14 cans of Hill’s k/d for Bob&Elvis* and their failing old-man kidneys, plus a few cans of Fancy Feast to give them a bit of variety…

You get the picture. A lot of canned food.

We have a 64 gallon wheelie bin for recycling, and by the time it gets picked up every other week it’s at least half-full of cat food cans, plus the packaging all those cans come in–which includes these paperboard cartons:

When I picked these for this week’s Trash Day project, I knew exactly what I wanted to make from them. Continue reading

While I’m waiting for paint to dry…

It’s a perfectly pleasant summer day, and I’m indoors, working on today’s Trash Day project.

But here’s the thing: it should have been done this morning and posted already. It’s not a difficult project, after all. From the moment I decided what to make I knew it wouldn’t present any big technical challenges; it’s just an idea I’ve had rattling in my brain for over a decade, but never tried. So I thought I’d relax and have fun and finally do it. Easy enough.

And no, the actual making of this project hasn’t posed any difficulties at all. It’s going very well, I’m having fun with it, and I think the result will be worth the effort. It’s a technique I’ll definitely want to play with some more in the future.

So what’s the problem, then?

Well, as always, it’s me.

In this case, it’s my tendency to think about an upcoming project, to imagine all the details of it, to mentally plan how I’m going to execute it–and then to put off the actual doing of it until the very last minute, leaving me nowhere near enough time to finish on schedule.

My brain, when making plans, always seems to forget that there’s this meatsuit I’m wearing, and that the meatsuit only moves so fast (it also needs sleep, food, coffee, bathroom breaks, and to call its mother). My brain also forgets that glue takes its time in drying, and that any project that involves lots of tiny, individually-painted pieces is going to take a while.

So I didn’t get started on this project until yesterday afternoon, after drinking coffee, farting around on the Internet for a while, and doodling sketches for another project altogether. And while everything has gone smoothly, it’s also gone slowly, and I am still gamely plugging away at it.

How many times have I put myself in this position? Don’t even ask. How I got through college, or have managed to keep myself together and functioning as an adult human being is one of the great mysteries of my existence. But maybe it’s something I can finally address–because damn it, I am not going to spend every Monday racing like mad to get these projects done. I’m just not.

Okay, back to work…

Trash Day: coffee bags

I drink a lot of coffee. I won’t say how much, but trust me, it’s a lot, even for a Seattleite. So coffee bags are a mainstay of my trash.

The bags my coffee comes in are made of thick, tough plastic, with a silvery inside and a printed outside. As far as I can tell, they are not recyclable; when even Berkeley-based Peet’s doesn’t have recycling info on their bags that pretty much says it all.

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Trash Day.

Monday is trash collection day in my neighborhood. And yes, most of my trash and recycling does make it into the appropriate bins and out of my life.

But I’ve always enjoyed playing with discarded things, finding new and unexpected ways to use them. It’s free art materials! Why not use them? So not everything gets tossed on trash day.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been good at putting those materials to the amazing, creative use I intended. Even when I’ve had great ideas, they’ve too often gone untried–because unless I take immediate action when my interest is fresh and new, and I’m excited? Forget about it. So many previously-inspiring, carefully-accumulated materials have ended up discarded later on. If they didn’t, my house would look like something from an episode of Hoarders (and I admit there are times when it’s come scarily close to that).

When I started giving serious thought to getting serious about blogging, it was during one of my periodic clean-outs. I filled the gigantic wheelie bin for recycling to the very top, and for the first time in over a year had a full trash can. I felt rather guilty at discarding all this stuff unused, and rather stupid at having expended so much thought, effort, and storage space to accumulate it in the first place, but out it went.

Several days later, it finally dawned on me that I could start using all that trash to creative ends, and hey! I could blog about it! And of course I realized this in the exact moment I watched the recycling guys tip the contents of my bin into their truck. But while I couldn’t go out and rescue my stash of materials (without looking like a complete nut), that’s okay–in a relentlessly throwaway society, there’s always more to be had.

I like the idea of making Trash Day a regular (perhaps weekly?) feature here, so I’m going to give it a try. On as many Mondays as I can manage to do so, I’ll post a piece of art, a craft item, or some other creative re-use of something that would, in a normal person’s household, end up on its way to the landfill or the recycler’s. Anything in my trash (or that I’ve picked out of someone else’s trash, or otherwise found discarded) is fair game.

So with that in mind, here’s my inaugural Trash Day project: coffee bags.