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Qotw: Are You Ransacking Trash Bins?

Question of the week; collecting stuff;

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#1 Evelyne Schoenmann

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 04:53 AM

I just can see one or the other raising an eyebrow reading my QOTW :lol: :lol:


Others may laugh out loud, yelling YESSSSSS. And maybe there is one or the other saying "Me? Well... Ehm....never say never.....". Still others blush, look quickly to the left and right and ask themselves "how does she know?"


I know because I am doing the ransacking quite regularly. Not in normal trash bins of course (that was only written in the title of this QOTW to get your attention), but construction waste bins, skips, dumpsters etc. During the Symposium in Barcelona I found a few things in dumpsters I could use, and some of the Symposium group, mainly Robert and Steve, brought collected construction-waste-a potter-still-can-use almost every day. It's normal. It's us!


How about you? Are you or are you not rifling through dumpsters?


Happy week to everybody!





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#2 alabama


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 07:50 AM

Over here it's sometimes referred to "dumpster diving"! :)

And yes, I'll dumpster dive! Last night I found a discarded stainless steel automotive antenna which I'll cut up and make several needle tools.

See ya,

#3 Roberta12


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 07:57 AM

I have been known to scavenge a thing or two from a throw away pile at a friends house or something that is setting next to a trash bin or a random piece of something that I find when walking or ........


This summer I had the privilege of helping 3 family members move.  I came away with small treasures from each move!  Yes, most of those treasures have found their way into my little studio.  However it they do not work out as I had planned, back to the trash bin with them!



#4 Diesel Clay

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 08:44 AM

My wedging table had a former life as a shop display plinth. It's built very sturdily, and was a nasty orange colour when I picked it up from next to a dumpster in a trendy neighbourhood. I added some feet to make it taller and painted it white so I wouldn't get queasy while wedging.

#5 Denice


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 09:01 AM

I have never gotten anything for my studio but I did rescue a Victorian side table that was waiting for trash pickup and my husband picked  a new pair of car ramps that were sticking out of the neighbors trash.  We informed both neighbors about our liberations,  one neighbor threw the table away because the legs had water damage.  The other neighbor threw the ramps away because they were a XMas gift he had never used.  It's amazing what people will toss.  Denice

#6 oldlady


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 09:16 AM

always.  the stainless steel table, 30 inches deep about 8 feet long came from a pizza chain store that was remodeling.  that was the biggest score.  lots of racks from remodeling chain store bakeries.  their management doesn't care about recycling them through used restaurant suppliers because they have an entire store to run and the rack is a nuisance to them right now. old metal refrigerator racks from a store that sells new appliances to large apartment complexes was a source for a long time.  great drying racks!   so i keep my eyes open at all times.  


thrift shops and yard sales are great, too.  usually the things that are left after everyone has bought all the "good" stuff.

"putting you down does not raise me up."

#7 ChenowethArts


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 09:35 AM

At the end of Spring semester when students are packing up their rooms to head home for the summer...DEFINITELY!  The treasures that they leave behind at dormitory dumpsters is unbelievable.



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#8 GiselleNo5


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 10:59 AM

Most of the shelving in my studio are kitchen cupboards that a neighbor pulled out when remodeling and put by the side of the road. They are perfectly sound. Some I left the doors on, others off depending on how wide they opened out. They're awesome and super sturdy.

My dad found a dozen Formica tabletops by the side of the road. He took a few and brought me a few. They're bright yellow, which I wouldn't have chosen; but they're sturdy and easy to clean and don't get water damaged.

I have many other side-of-the-road items that I've used. In our town, everybody puts stuff they don't want out by the side of the road for free. I do it all the time. So far the only thing I put out that has not been taken was a huge heavy water damaged melamine shelf. When I say heavy, I mean at keast 200 lbs.

I'm cleaning out the garage for an upcoming studio show. My husband and I culled our four bookshelves down to three so we could get rid of the one in the garage. Literally hundreds of books that I put out vanished. Everybody who walked past stopped and took a few. I didn't have to take a single thing to the thrift store. It's awesome.

I create order from chaos. And also, chaos from order.




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#9 SydneyGee


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 12:59 PM

I nab plastic bags out of the recycle to cover my clay at the classroom. Since I don't have space for my own studio QUITE yet, husband does not really want me picking up all the nice heavy tables/stools/shelves in our neighbor hood and re-purposing them just yet. :rolleyes:


Once we get a shed, then we can talk  :D




Might as well admit it, i'm addicted to clay....

#10 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 05:37 PM

it embarrasses my husband. He says," My wife, the Dumpster Diver" I collect copper wire from old appliances, lamps, stoves, etc. 

I have gotten formica table tops,  shelving cabinets from a closing department store, and just cool shapes. I pick up end rolls from newspapers.

Recycling is a good idea.


Marcia Selsor, Professor Emerita,Montana State University-Billings

#11 Pugaboo


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 08:21 PM

Yep I've done all of that. When we were finishing our house every evening after the construction guys left I would go out and dig through the pile and pull out drywall, plywood, 2x4s, 2x6s, etc. I am always looking for things that might improve studio life.

The thing I do that embarrasses my husband is at restaurants I collect up all the straws and wooden scewers that come with the meal. I just look at him and go... "What? They're just gonna throw them away and straws make excellent holes and the scewers are great for drawing in clay." He just shakes his head and says at least wait until I'm done with my drink next time before you steal the straw. Oops, I swear I thought he was done!

The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#12 LeeU


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Posted 05 October 2016 - 08:23 PM

Oh yeah...started out with one of those NYC Con Edison wood cable spools, before they were trendy, that became the table in my tenement flat and have always furnished my digs from discards. My speciality in art school was using "found objects" (had to develop some real artistic skill with the work, as opposed to my pieces looking like they were the result of sheer poverty). Today, before I read this post, I scored a couple of 5 gal. duck sauce buckets from the dumpster of a Chinese restaurant and a few pieces of twisted metal something-or-others that will make nice texture tools. But I don't steal milk crates anymore. 

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#13 Mark C.

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 12:59 AM

Long ago yes but not these days.

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#14 Rae Reich

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 05:21 AM

Long ago, as I was packing up from a show, a gentleman from Knudsen Dairy approached me, presented his business card, and repossessed two of my cherished crates. I'm glad we can buy them now, though I don't think they are as rugged as the originals.

I have rescued many usable and re-usable items. People bring me stuff they would rather not throw away. By the time I put things out in the trash, they are truly trashed, with little left to redeem them.

#15 D.M.Ernst



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Posted 06 October 2016 - 10:21 AM

I am currently using an old 3' cable spool as a table; a wooden pallet where I hang my tools; and shelves from discarded refrigerators.  Do old motel key cards fit the description I have lots of those.  My wedging table was discarded by someone who was giving up pottery.  My son gives me his used banjo and guitar strings to make cutting wires. 

#16 Pres


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Posted 06 October 2016 - 09:09 PM

Sad to say, but I have been forced to start. . . walking by. I have been a hoarder for so many years that I find my shop too crowded to get around in. I have old wooden boxes that came with the house, doors and molding over the rafters, an old car axle that I was keeping to build a kick wheel, bins and tins of all sorts of hardware, and a mess of other crazy things, including the female sweater manikin that hangs next to the bar clamps before you get to the kiln. Yep, been there done that, but not any more!   Oh wow Fall cleanout is coming up, maybe I'll take a walk around the block.







Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . . http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/

#17 Diesel Clay

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 09:20 AM

I still have one milk crate from college that holds my booth lights and extension cords. I haven't picked up any lately, though :)!

I have a stack of electrical spools in various sizes that I use as a booth display. The whole "Diesel Clay" thing seems to need something a little industrial.

#18 JBaymore



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Posted 07 October 2016 - 09:32 AM

I'm in the point in life that, like maybe Mark and Pres, I have stopped acquiring stuff "that might be good some day" in the studio.  Too many years doing that are already behind me. 


At the moment, I am working on streamlining my studio space and getting RID of stuff that is not sort of actively used.  Example: I've decided that I will no longer do any workshops out of my own studio... so I'm selling off about 4-5 wheels that I don't need.  Some plaster molds that I no longer use....... going away.  The "too heavy" thicker wood ware boards that are still absolutely perfectly useable.... but not nice and light like my brich ply ones....... so I don't tend to use them....... going.  And so on.


If I see something that will fill an IMMEDIATE need...... I would not be above "dumpster diving".... but I am not actively looking (like I used to).


However... that being said....... a dumpster full of new-ish insulating firebrick......... I'm all over it  ;) .





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#19 Chilly


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Posted 08 October 2016 - 10:28 AM

When I moved into my current house, (28 years ago) the builders had completed 5 out of 34 houses and we were first to move in.  Every night after the builders had gone home, we would walk our domestic rubbish to their skip (their instructions - no collection for a year), and then dive in to see what we could find.  We'd been told by the builders this was OK.  Nails, screws, damaged kitchen units, half-used tubes of sealant etc.  As more houses were finished, we got to know more neighbours at the skip visit.  The builders were quite lazy, and if a stack of bricks fell over, it was too much trouble for them to pick them off the floor, so we were allowed to acquire such items too.  Got about 6 wheelbarrows of sharp sand that had muddy tyre prints in it from a dumper truck that they couldn't/wouldn't use.  Such wastefulness, couldn't not take advantage of it.


As for today, well only yesterday we acquired a trailer full of ex roof-timbers from the local surgery who are having their roof repaired.  They've gone to the Scout campsite for use, even if the scrappy stuff only gets burned, it was worthwhile.




#20 rakukuku


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Posted 08 October 2016 - 01:53 PM

well one day I was eating a little packet of tuna with a spoon. because tuna stinks, i didn't want to put the packet in the inside trash at the studio so I took it directly to the dumpster. A friend saw me walking away from the dumpster with a spoon in hand.  She said "I hope walking away from the dumpster with a spoon does not mean what it looks like".  LOL, no I do not eat out of dumpsters but would not be above grabbing something I thought was useful. 


There is a scrap yard near our studio and we all cruise by there looking for interesting found objects.   rakuku

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