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With concrete month behind us, we’re continuing our 2012 materials theme in May by focusing on reclaimed, recycled, and directly reused materials. We’re probably also going to be shoehorning in a few straight creative reuse projects, under this banner, that are not strictly about the materials themselves. But I’m planning a special effort to keep the underlying what’s-that-stuff focus. I’m especially interested in direct DIY recycling and reclamation of bulk materials—cloth and lint, paper, aluminum, plastic containers, precious metals—and have some good stuff lined up in that vein.

But as always, if you have specific resources, requests, or recommendations, please let us know, below.

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • MSilvia

    I’m working on a project that, aside from the fake fur, arduino, sensors, and servos, is almost entirely made from repurposed materials including broken plastic containers, old Leggs pantyhose “eggs”, newspaper, dental floss and bandage containers, discarded electronics, and the like. I haven’t documented the process of re-using things in much detail, but the project can be seen at

    I’ve also been experimenting lately with a glue/extrudable plastic made from recycled ABS plastic and acetone.

  • adam schwartzentruber

    sounds great, I am looking forward to this. I love using waste materials!

    like sign company vinyl scraps!!

  • Fireonyx

    This guy cuts much of his lumber from firewood. He built several bandsaws using old furnace and pool pump motors. Then uses the portable bandsaw on a frame to save downed trees from being cut into firewood.

  • jamesbx

    I would be interested in the state of, “people who grind/heat/press plastic bags and water bottles into a workable material”. I’ve seen a couple of articles here and there, and wonder how those projects are coming.

    • R. Adam Quigley

      I have tried a few methods to do this but none really turn out.

  • vulpestruments

    Brilliant idea for a month!

    I make musical instruments out reclaimed/re-used materials, I’d estimate at least 90% of everything i’ve done has had a previous life!

    Everything I do is up here: would love to contribute if I can.

  • R. Adam Quigley

    I use cardboard and paper from my recycle pile to make fire bricks for my forge. I use the forge to melt and pour reclaimed metals. The ashes from the forge get spread on the lawn as fertilizer or used as the base for making bricks that are backed in the same forge for use around the yard. Sawdust and shredded leaves and grass also got into the mix when available. Glass gets smashed until it is a fine sand and is used in the bricks or crafts.

    • R. Adam Quigley

      baked not backed… sorry

  • Espacio Colectivo

    I’m looking for a project that involves cutting beer bottles. So far I’ve been making glasses and vases, and I’m interested in using the neck part for something.

    • R. Adam Quigley

      My Father makes hanging lights and candle holders from the neck parts of the bottles.