I like to take your trash and recyclable items and put them together for a new, repurposed use. Within our Art & Academic Workshops program, I facilitate two workshops that teach young scholars how to expand their creativity by building something new and original out of something old and used that they can be proud of. I like to teach them to see usefulness where others see uselessness. We work to waste nothing and recycle and reuse anything and everything we can.
The thought of taking something absolutely torn, tarnished, and broken and turning it into something beyond beautiful may be hard to imagine. But that’s what has been done in us. It’s been done and is still being done in my life. Every day, God is taking my broken pieces and building something new from the wreckage. He collects the torn parts and redesigns my canvas. He is the Master Engineer and we’ve been created in His image.
In my Instrument Engineers workshop, we collect old cardboard boxes and cut them down. We cut new edges, paint on some new colors, and add some rubberbands. All of a sudden, we have guitars!
What else can we make?
We gather scrap blocks of wood and we raid the drawers of our bathrooms to collect old hairpins. We staple the hairpins to the blocks of wood and drill some holes for better acoustic design. Now we have thumb pianos, also known as kalimbas.
Can we make something else?
Carpet and flooring stores have big cardboard tubes that are used to wrap carpet around. These stores normally cut these cardboard tubes down and throw them away, but even those can be reused. So I collect several of these tubes and we cut them down to about a foot in length. Then we wrap one end with heavy duty plastic lining, paint on some colors, and now we have our own custom, homemade drums. Simple!
We create instruments from things that most wouldn’t think were intended to be used as instruments. Don’t be disregard your broken pieces. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. The Master Engineer creates beauty from the wreckage and constructs an instrument out of you so your song will be heard. We can follow His lead and do the same with our earthly materials.
Taking the used and reconstructing it can seem very daunting, but just requires some patience and creativity. Don’t shy away from it, but allow the wonder to take over and show you something you probably never would’ve expected.
In my Art of Magic workshop, I show scholars how to perform magic tricks with common household items. I doubt anyone expects me to be able to do anything interesting when I set an empty Gatorade bottle and a nickel on the table and tell them magic is about to happen. I assure them not to doubt the simple objects. Their skepticism always turns to amazement when I “magically” force the nickel through the bottom of the sealed bottle.
“How did you do it?!” The scholars then learn how to create the prop. They’re surprised at the simplicity of the objects and the trick and are excited to be able to do something amazing with the everyday objects. We may complicate the things in our lives, but don’t limit the Master Artist. He works in ways that we can’t even imagine and wants to show us.
Open your mind to a world of new and old treasures and be a better steward of our planet. Use what you have to create something that is useful to you and inspiring to others. Then share your ideas. Find usefulness in something that others find useless and teach them what you have discovered. We have the gift of creating. So do it! Create. Reuse. Reinvent.
Miles Dela Cruz (Development Manager, Visual Art/Music/Theater Mentor)