Of the three GREEN-Rs — REDUCE, REPURPOSE, AND RECYCLE, repurposing is more fun and brings the most satisfaction. And in my opinion, it’s also the greenest of the greens – because it requiresonly a tiny bit of energy for its reprocessing and eliminates the need to buy a new product. When an item can’t really be remodeled in any way so that it can be used for its original purpose, you can sometimes use your design skills to adapt it to another need. Thus the same product can serve us for more years in different uses or serve other people a long time before becoming recycled or - please not this- be tossed as another piece of trash into our already bulging landfills.
So what’s behind the repurposing fever? First, our society is running short of many costly resources and, second, the huge volume of products being disposed of everyday is no longer sustainable. And that’s exactly where design come in – finding new solutions by transforming an original item into something else, thus extending the products’ longevity. That’s the heart of the trash-to-treasure movement. You have an everyday item that no longer is useful in its first form, but with creativity and a bit of work, you find an attractive reuse that can be useful in your home or given as a gift to someone else.
When you transform an item into something with a new purpose, you reduce the environmental impact of the product’s industrial cost and postpone its moment of disposal as trash. This allows the “repurposer” to have the satisfaction of taking no longer used items and thrift store-finds and transforming them into original artworks packed with both futurist vision and sentimental value.
How to convert an old plate into a decorative plaque.
A chipped or cracked plate with a charming design
Small mosaic tiles that coordinate (or contrast) with the colors in the plate
A board cut to size as a plaque (with a cut-to-size circle if an entire plate is to be displayed.)
Mosaic tile adhesive
Tile and grout sealer
You have choices. You can fix up the crack or chip with a bit of ceramic glue and/or acrylic paint color and keep the entire plate with a mosaic tile background. Or you can break the plate into smaller pieces with a hammer and not have to worry about any chips or cracks. The pieces don’t have to be all the same size, just be sure that most are about one-inch square or larger. (It's also possible to display the whole plate, as is, and not worry about trying to fix up small cracks or chips - giving your product more of a "shabby-chic" look.)
Be sure to protect yourself when you break the plate. Wear safety goggles or place some heavy fabric on the top before hammering. Also it’s a good idea to use some gloves when handling the sharp pieces of plate and for tile cutting.
Then take your plate or plate pieces and move them to the precut board. Create the design you like with plate pieces and tiles without applying glue. You will probably have to do some tile nipping to get the right fit. The plate or plate pieces will typically be in the middle with tiles around it, but you could also make a spiral, triangle, or some other geometric pattern. Use a notched trowel to apply tile adhesive to the board and rough up the adhesive with the trowel. This will help the pieces bond to the board.
Carefully set, not slide, the broken pieces and tiles into the adhesive using a slight twisting motion. Let the plaque dry according to the adhesive instructions.
After the adhesive has dried, fill the gaps between the broken pieces with grout. Remove excess grout with a damp sponge. Let the grout dry, then wipe off the surface again with the sponge. Make sure that the plaque is clean and dry, then apply the sealer.
Display your creation on a shelf or hang it on the wall. You’ll want to make more than one. These plaques make lovely holiday gifts.
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