#14 on my 100 Ways To Be Creative list is to utilize free and found materials. One of the best ways I’ve been able to do this, has been through the wonderful resource of The Book Thing in Baltimore. I’ve mentioned this great place many times before, but I want to officially recognize its wonder.
In a nutshell, The Book Thing is a free book store. People donate unwanted books, volunteers sort them by subject, and anyone is allowed to come in on the weekends and take as many as they want. Well, you can’t take more than 150,000 per day, but that’s fairly generous.
Obviously, it’s a great place to go if you’re an avid reader. It’s also perfect if you are a Bookcrosser, like Kate, or you want to leave books for people to find, like I did with Blind Books. Blind Books is a pretty good example of how I’ve utilized free materials.
Something else I love about The Book Thing is the random non-book items you can find. I’ve found photographs, shopping lists, and letters inside of books, on the floor, and in boxes. I’ve turned them into postcards, included them as extras with letters, or given them as RAOK gifts.
A postcard from 365 Days Of Mail Art, using one of the “camp letters” from a free book.
One of my favorite finds at The Book Thing was a few years ago in the textbook section. Usually it’s just piles and piles of the same 1970’s elementary school textbooks, but one day there was another pile. It was these giant print outs of  fairy tales and silly animals.
The hardest part was deciding what side to use when I turned them into envelopes.
I’ve also shown some postcards I’ve made out of old book covers. Lots of the books, especially in the children’s section, are really deteriorated. I think a great way to re-purpose them is to send their beautiful art through the mail.
book covers
book pages
Writing this has made me realize that the main way I use free materials is in the mail. I’m okay with that. I also realized that I provide free and found materials when I leave things on the street. So that’s full circle, and I feel good about that.
Do you use found materials or have access to free ones?