Rather Than Toss, Repurpose!

Together, Aaron and I have lived in five different states. Since we save nearly everything, we found ourselves with more than a dozen old license plates collecting dust. When we wanted to build a screen to protect the firewood crib from the elements, Aaron got the idea of connecting the license plates.

Plates - Tools2With simple tools—a ruler, a pair of pliers, and coated, copper electrical wire leftover from our house remodel—we were able to set it up in an afternoon.Plates - Process2

After cutting the wire into manageable pieces, Aaron extracted the thinner wires within. Next, he cut the inner wire into 3.5-inch pieces, bending down both ends to form a narrow C-shaped hook about 1.5 inches long—two for each plate.

Plates–VericalOnce all the connectors were ready, he screwed a horizontal row of plates across the top of the shed frame, about a half-inch apart. The additional plates were hung beneath the others with the C-hooks, creating vertical rows.

As friends and family learned of our project, we began to get donations of old plates from their garages and basements. Two new-to-our-state friends gave us their old plates when they registered their cars in Washington State.

The screen grew, but not quickly enough. A web search revealed a few sources, and we were able to complete the project at an affordable price through Amazon.com. We now have a unique display that reminds us of our “past lives” while doing a decent job of keeping the firewood dry on rainy days.

Plates - PortraitThe result is a functional and attractive piece of garden art. It was a great icebreaker at a summer potluck for my Editors Guild. Guests gathered by the shed perusing the plates and sharing memories and travel stories. It makes a kitschy backdrop for portraits, and adds a bit of color during Seattle’s dreary winter months. I’ve since seen them used to create artsy signs and more elaborate decorative pieces—more cast-offs rescued from the trash heap!