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  • Writer's pictureJesi Machete

Trash to Lettered Treasure

I recently threw a challenge up on Instagram to motivate fellow creatives to think outside the box (or garage in this case) and use thrifting as inspiration for a new project. The rules are simple: you've got 30 days, a budget of $10 (total), you've got to find a minimum of 3 pieces, and you've got to share what you make using the hashtag #letterthrifting. You can check out the post here.

With the amount of talent floating around on the web and the many awesome things waiting to be given a second chance, I thought I would take a minute to explain the roots of this challenge a bit more and tell you why I think thrifting is such an awesome resource.

Why I Love a Good Garage Sale

A little back story. I live in cottage country, an area of Ontario littered with old homes, cottages, antique shops and general thrifty goodness. *drool* This creates the perfect storm for finding really cool, old shit, really cheap. From May to September, Saturdays around my place mean one thing: Garage Sale Season BABY.

Now, I'm sure there are some of you who have zero patience for, and are repulsed by the thought of, digging through boxes of other people's crap (especially since I know you just Marie Kondo'd and purged a ton of your own shit), but hear me out. If you live in good GS territory you can find incredible treasures for next to nothing (hello - who doesn't love a good bargain?). Sure sometimes you've got to sort through a lot of junk to find a little treasure, but you know the saying - you've got to kiss a lot of frogs. Isn't it worth it when he turns into the prince? Whether you call them street, garage, yard, community, rummage, or boot sales, the treasures waiting to be found would make even Ariel jealous.

Tamborine $2, Vintage Frames $4, Old Guitar $12. Finding your next big idea: PRICELESS

Maybe you're thinking, "why the fuck should I waste time rummaging when I can spend more money and buy it new, without the risk of wandering around the streets with a pocket full of quarters only to come up empty handed?" Well Linda, let me give you a few reasons...

Why You Need to Get Up Early on Saturday AM

Reason #1: MOTHER FUCKING EARTH. You know how much 'junk' ends up in landfills every year? Do you know how many cool things people chuck because they can't be bothered looking at them, storing them, cleaning them, reusing them? Do you know what this does to our precious planet? It RUINS it. By buying anything secondhand, you do our 'bad bitch Mother E' a solid and prevent that stuff from junking her up. Anytime we can do our part, we really should.

Reason #2: The possibilities are ENDLESS. We've all faced it: the dreaded creative rut. Some people scour Insta for inspo, some people drink wine and cry until it passes, some people find new ways to escape it. For me that inspiration came from thrifting. I literally went through a phase where I was so stuck for inspiration I felt like throwing in the towel completely. After about 2 months of wine and Insta creeping that produced nothing but hangovers and depression, I wandered into a thrift store. After 5 minutes in that store, I kid you not, the curse of the rut was lifted. I spent $9 and came out with 4 original ideas for projects that would never have come to me any other way. Sure, maybe I could've had the same bolt of lightning moment at Target, but it would have cost me $100 and I would have ended up seeing the same door mat and canvas tote on my feed in a week and felt defeated all over again. If you want to be inspired by something no one else is being inspired by, you need to surround yourself with stuff no one else is surrounding themselves with. You want a bolt to hit you hard? Find an old tin war flask for .50 that hasn't seen the light of day for 60 years.

Reason #3: It's fun as fuck. Seriously, nothing gets me out of bed faster on a Saturday than the promise of a street sale. Grab a coffee and hit the pavement. Make it a day date and go with your partner in crime - you'll be surprised how much fun you can have with so little spending involved. Also, if you're like me, it helps to have someone talk you out of all those impulse buys (like only $5 for 10 pounds of used Christmas tinsel).

Reason #4: PRACTICE. Want to try lettering on a mirror but don't want to take down the one in your bathroom? Have a client project coming up lettering on vintage tea cups but don't want to spend $50 to buy one online to test your tools? Thrifting provides the perfect opportunity to test new surfaces without breaking the bank or ruining your grandmother's good China. If you're looking for something, chances are you'll find it in your neighbourhood and I promise the price will be right.

My 2 Fave Tips

1. Plan your route the night before. Check Facebook groups and Buy & Sell platforms for details on when and where. This will help make the most of your day and result in more sales in a shorter amount of time.

2. Bring lots of cash. You might not need it, but some people aren't willing to hold things for you while you scramble to find the closest ATM. The last thing you want is to risk losing out on something cool because you don't have a tenner left in your wallet.

If these aren't reason enough to get you out there, I don't know that anything else I say will help convince you. What I do know is that you’ll be missing out. If you'd rather sit at home and let everyone else have all the fun, feel free to check out the goods by following the hashtag #letterthrifting. I just posted the challenge so it may take some time for projects to start popping up, but let me warn you, you might just be too inspired not to join in.

Happy Hunting!

xx Jesi

P.S. Obviously this challenge is targeted to letterers, but don't be discouraged if that's not your jam. Share your non-lettering thrift successes by using this hashtag instead #thrifter2019

Globe :$2

Shitty Old Paddle $5

Vintage Blanket Box $3

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