In Japan, Splintered Baseball Bats Are Turned Into Chopsticks

iStock.com/enterphoto
iStock.com/enterphoto

In Japan, a broken bowl or mug isn't necessarily destined for the nearest trash bin. Through the art of kintsugi, the shards are glued back together with a gold seal that calls attention to the cracks—the general idea being that flaws make something even more beautiful.

In a similar vein, many splintered baseball bats are also given a new lease on life in Japan. Bats that end up being broken by professional players are often turned into kattobashi: "a mash-up of the Japanese word for chopsticks and a baseball chant that translates as 'get a big hit,'" The New York Times explains. That's right—sports mementos that would typically be sold for upwards of $50 in the U.S. are turned into reusable chopsticks in Japan.

Each season, roughly 10,000 wooden bats are transformed into those ubiquitous eating utensils in an effort to cut down on waste and help preserve a threatened species of ash tree called the aodamo. Some bats are made from this material, although the practice is less common nowadays because the trees aren't readily available. Today, most are made from imported maple and white ash.

Sports teams in Japan weren't always so eco-conscious, though. The broken bats used to be burned or given away until chief executive Hyogoo Uratani of the Hyozaemon chopsticks company came along. With help from a friend who had been a pro baseball player, they convinced 12 teams to start recycling their bats. It's a mutually beneficial deal, with Hyozaemon paying a licensing fee to the teams, and the Nippon Professional Baseball organization donating funds each year to the nonprofit Aodamo Preservation Society.

They're also fun memorabilia to have on hand. A saw is used to break down the bats into smaller pieces, which are sanded into the shape of chopsticks. Team logos are imprinted on the wider part up top, and lastly they're coated in lacquer. For the ultimate baseball fan, it's a way to incorporate team pride into every aspect of daily life—even breakfast.

[The New York Times]

Want to Repurpose Old or Damaged Books? Turn Them Into DIY Wall Art

Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images
Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images

Many bibliophiles see their books as more than just reading material. Whether they're color-coded, stored backwards, or stacked around the house in teetering piles, books can double as decorations that add coziness and character to a space. This interior design trend spotted by Today pushes this concept to new heights by transforming old books into pieces of sprawling wall art.

Erin Kern, the Oklahoma designer behind the blog Cotton Stem, first had the idea to make books into DIY art in 2015. Her concept works with any books you have at home that you can bear to part with. Just grab a staple gun, secure the book covers to the wall you wish to embellish, and then use staples, glue, or tape to arrange the pages of the book however you like them. You can keep the book open to your favorite page or use some clever craft work to make the pages look like they're frozen mid-flip. As you expand the piece, you can add single pages or pages without their covers to vary the design.

Kern and other designers who've created their own versions of the project often combine old books with other types of wall decor. You can nestle framed prints of literary quotes or tuck air plants among the pages. Ana Ochoa of the blog Fiddle Leaf Interiors used hanging books as a makeshift canvas for a larger-than-life painting.

If seeing books stapled to a wall makes you cringe, rest assured that no one is suggesting you buy brand-new books to use as your crafting materials. This project is a great way to repurpose old books you never plan to read again—especially books with tears and missing pages that are too damaged to donate.

Looking for more literary design inspiration? Check out these pieces of furniture made out of books.


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[h/t Today]

Who Invented the Cardboard Box?

Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images
Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images

Few inventions have blended as seamlessly into our daily living routines as the humble cardboard box. We get excited to see piles of them near our front door. We stuff them with papers. Our cats love to claim them as their private living rooms. Yet we rarely stop to consider how much more convenient they are than a burlap sack. Who do we credit for this marvel of simple but indispensable ingenuity?

In the 1st and 2nd century BCE, the Han Dynasty of China was busy pioneering the use of paper. During the same era, sheets of bark from the Mulberry tree were used to wrap and protect food, one of the earliest examples of a sturdy, wood-based product being repurposed for packaging. But what we’d come to recognize as the earliest form of the cardboard box as we know it today didn’t appear until the early 19th century, with the 1817 German board game The Game of Besieging being the oldest example. Throughout the 19th century, companies began using the boxes as a means of storage and transport for cereals and even for moth eggs used by silk manufacturers.

But an additional twist—or pleat—was needed in order to turn these carriers into the cubical wonders we know today. In 1856, top hat peddlers Edward Allen and Edward Healey used a stiffer paper made with a fluted sheet in the middle of two layers to provide stability and warmth to the lining: It was a precursor to corrugated cardboard.

The real breakthrough, however, came in 1879. It was then that Robert Gair, owner of a Brooklyn paper factory, figured out that he could both score a single sheet of cardboard and then have his printing press cut it at the same time, eliminating laborious hand-cutting. When the flat pieces were folded together, the cardboard box as we know it was born.

Gair sold consumer product companies on this handy new form of storage, eventually scoring a 2-million-piece order from the cracker czars at Nabisco. Snack foods could now travel without the danger of being crushed, and, pretty soon, the cardboard box was migrating from kitchen cupboards to anywhere a cheap, effective form of packaging was needed. In the 1930s, the Finnish government even adopted the boxes as part of a take-home maternity package for new mothers who may not have been able to afford cribs. Babies took their first naps in the confines of the mattress-lined box—a practice that continues today.

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