In the last few years the cost of living has skyrocketed. This has really impacted on the price of art and craft materials, as well as hardware items. After paying for life’s essentials there are often inadequate funds available for expensive creative projects. It is necessary to find a cheaper solution and sometimes having limited means leads to more interesting and original ideas.
We are lucky to have had three generations of hoarders in our family. Not the extreme kind, but those who kept old furniture and junk items under their houses, in their sheds, garages or storage areas. While we had to get rid of a lot of this stuff when our relatives died, we managed to keep some interesting things stored in the attic and shed of our family home. We have been able to use such found objects around our house and garden in a creative and fun way without spending a cent.
It helps if you like the naturally distressed look, objects that have genuine flaking paint and real rust. Sometimes all a thing needs is a gentle clean or a minor repair. This saves on time and materials, like paint and sandpaper. The age of an item shows its history and over restoring would destroy any authentic character.
For example, an old distressed dolls house in our studio is used to display a collection of bottles dug up from our garden, as well as glass jars, that are filled with interesting old buttons from our grandmother and driftwood, flotsam and shells found at the beach. It also holds some sewing and craft materials. I find it fun to change the objects every now and then, as these give me inspiration and are visually pleasing. This is a case of using things found around the place in a new manner that costs absolutely nothing, as well as requiring little time and effort to produce.
It really pays to look in your close relatives’ sheds, attics, garages and basements to see if there is anything useful. Best to ask permission before rummaging around these places and appropriating objects to prevent any family arguments. If you do not have your own source of free stuff you can find things in curbside hard rubbish collections and skips (dumpsters), but to avoid breaking local council laws you should ask the homeowners if it is ok to take something from their pile. Also there are plenty of free recycling websites around Australia and the world where people give away unwanted items or get stuff for free. Probably the next most inexpensive places are garage/yard/car boot sales; then op shops/thrift stores/ charity shops, weekend markets and of course on line auction sites.
It definitely is satisfying to look at any old piece of so-called junk from a different angle and then create something new. Often this tells a story about your family history and is also a way of recycling things that would otherwise be trashed. You will have something unique that reflects your personal vision. So play around and use your imagination. It will make you feel good without breaking the bank.