So I lied. I tipped back my hat, put my hands in my pockets, leaned back and said, “Woo-wee, glad that wagon’s finished and I can finally think about something else.” And though I am happy that thoughts about the trash book have space in my head again, looking at all those pictures of the finished product is making me feel all gushy.
I look at those before and after pictures, and I get a twitch in my fingers to tell you all about the little things that have made such a small space just the right size for everything I could possibly need. I want to tell you about which things in those pictures were dumpster dived (brag would probably be the more appropriate verb), and I want to share all the tricks of the DIY building trade that I’ve learned over the last year. And that’s probably just what I’m going to end up doing. No time like the present…
As far as building with scavenged materials go, an active imagination is the most important tool of all. Wow. Helloooooo kitschy-sounding statement. Sounds like the kind of bullshit people spout on about at graduations. But it doesn’t make this particular statement any less true.
Objects tend to get stuck in our perceptions of their prescribed uses. That is, we stick them in a specific role with a specific function (chairs are for sitting, curtains are for covering windows, etc) and once they occupy a certain space in our minds and homes, we don’t let them be anything else, however good of a wall a table top could make (or table cloth a curtain could make, or curtain rod an old table leg could make). Once things outlive the uses we have assigned them, they often get tossed instead of re-imagined into places we might never have expected to find them.
Instead of tossing an item past its alleged prime, it could be re-invented, given a second life, resurrected. Dumpsters are full of the tools for a lifetime worth of mad scientist-esque building projects, and you’d never have to spend a dime. (An entirely over-rated activity as it is. Dimes too, could probably be put to better use in other fields.) I reckon that the people who are going to be the best off come the (apparently) impending apocalypse are going to be those who can re-imagine and re-fashion the waste left behind by our civilization into whatever they find themselves needing–a skill not unimportant in, well, pretty much any situation, time, or place.
There are a lot of examples around the wagenplatz where I live, and in the midst of a picture-taking frenzy, I captured a few examples for your consideration. Take this picture of my wood stove pipe. Can you spot the re-invented bit?
It’s the bit of black metal protecting the wood siding from the heat of the pipe. That’s an old baking pan I found on the floor of one of our kitchens, unused, and covered in dust. I traced the stove pipe on it, used an angle grinder to cut out a pipe-sized hole, and screwed it onto the wall. Coincidentally, the strip of metal holding the pipe upright was also scavenged, though what it was in its previous life I am not sure.
Though I scavenged quite a bit of stovepipe from the Sperrmuell (big trash such as furniture and the like) and was given some by friends, I bought this bit of pipe when I discovered that the opening on my new (old–a gift from a friend moving to an apartment with dial-run heating) was too small for the pipe I’d found. Usually I would have waited for the dumpster gods to grace me with a solution, but the chill of winter was too immediate to wait.
Perhaps the item in the next photo is more obvious (though rather tiny):
If you have a vertical chimney pipe, rain tends to get in it, which in turn sometimes creates a gross ashy goo that is especially irritating if it starts dripping back into your fire. And more so than in other configurations, wind will sometimes blow smoke back down vertical pipes and into your room. This is especially dangerous if you are sleeping in said room at the time and don’t notice, or in the worst case scenario, ever wake up again. Above you can see a small pot lid re-purposed as a solution to those problems. (This is also why you’ll see a “T”-shaped bit of pipe at the top of my chimney.)
Three’s company, and I love company, so here’s one more picture of a particularly spacey chimney-goo/wind solution in the form of an old metal lamp shade.
And don’t let the title of this post mislead you: You can re-invent the kitchen sink too. In fact I have one lying in my shed right now. Anybody got a suggestion for what I should do with it?