Tag Archives: Japan

Re-purpose…again and again

Despite what all the crafters might have you think, the art of re-purposing isn’t new. Surely it dates back to a time when “disposable” was unthinkable. Those with memories of the Great Depression frequently speak — proudly — of how they re-used an item¬† over and over and just when it seemed destined for the dustbin some ingenious soul would determine a new use for the item.

My mom, who was born in 1922, often reminds me of how she used the wool from an aunt’s coat to make a coat for me. The coat is still in my attic — a gentle reminder that new is not always better.

Several years ago, when we moved my mom from her condo to an independent living center, I discovered some old cotton rice bags among her fabric stash. Back when we were kids, my parents bought large quantities of rice. Today those bags are usually made of some odd kind of fibrous stuff with a plastic feel.

But the “vintage” rice and flour bags were made of sturdy cotton and usually imprinted with the company name, amount and type of rice, etc. During the Depression, flour sacks were often made into clothing.

So when I found these bags, I decided to turn them into a two-layer shopping bag. I added a strap and it was perfect for the farmer’s market. One day, my aunt, who lived in Japan for 30 years or so, saw the bag and offered me her own collection of rice bags.

As Christmas approached, I realized the bags would be a perfect last-minute gift project, and ended up with four re-purposed market bags. This is really simple. All I did was turn one bag inside out so it would become the lining for the outer bag, then made straps from strips cut from an extra bag.

I sewed around the top of the two bags to hold them together, then sewed each end of the strap to the bag.1224121546  1224121545


Tell me about your re-purposed projects. I’m always up for new ideas!

Finpex 2011 beckons the family philatelist

I have a funny feeling I know what my husband will be doing this weekend. Not that he’s mentioned this…or at least not outright. He posted a story on The Bluffton Icon (www.blufftonicon.com) about Fort Findlay Stamp and Postcard Club’s annual stamp show — Finpex 2011.

Okay, here’s one thing I’ve learned in 30 years of marriage to this guy. See, he’s a philatelist, and philatelists are all alike. They band together. In our case, they live beside each other. A few weeks ago after church, he informed me that he was going next door to play. Okay, that’s not exactly how he put it. It was probably more along the lines of “I’m going over to look at Bill’s (Swartley) stamp collection.” I noticed he didn’t take any of his own along. This can mean only one thing. There will be another Sunday afternoon “sharing of the stamp collections.”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate stamps. I do. Especially when I need to send a letter. And…okay…long ago, I had a stamp collection. My cousins — who lived in Japan — sent me a stamp album. It was beautiful — red with some Japanese characters on the front, and inside the sticky pages were covered with plastic that you peeled back to stick the stamps in place. They must have sent me some stamps, because the album had some very pretty, shiny turquoise stamps…with Japanese characters. I’m embarrassed to admit I never got more than a few pages filled and I had no clue what I was doing. I liked pretty stamps. Still do.

When Fred told me about his stamp collection, I thought, “aha — another common interest”. But then he showed me his. Oh my. This guy was serious. He had stamps and stamps and stamps. They were actually worth more than they cost. Compared to him, I was just an amateur philatelist. But I’d already told him about my so-called collection, so I had to show it to him. He was kind. He didn’t laugh…or at least, not too loud.

Over the years, he has continued to collect stamps, attending stamp shows periodically and usually coming home with some treasured item of great value. I ooh and aah over his purchases and pretend that I know exactly what they are. He’s not fooled.

Because I know he collects foreign stamps, when family members travel to other countries and ask what they can bring back, I tell them to bring him some stamps — they don’t take up much room in an already full suitcase.

When daughter number 2 comes to visit, the two of them usually spend some time on one of their favorite past times — soaking stamps. The routine goes like this:

  • Fill large bowl with warm water
  • Dump stamps in bowl and let them soak
  • Remove stamps and carefully remove the remainders of envelopes from the backs
  • Place each stamp on a cookie sheet to dry

I don’t know what they do after this…I usually fall asleep in the middle of the process. But in the morning, I see cookie sheets filled with stamps, lined up side by side, and I make the usual snide comments. They roll their eyes at me.

So anyway, there’s this stamp show in Findlay this weekend. Finpex 2011. If you’re a philatelist, it’s the place to be.

Not a philatelist? Not to worry. Maybe you’re a numismatist. They frequent coin shows. Guess who you’ll see at those, too?