Old electrical plugs and outlets that are no longer in use can be repurposed into unique works of art. As an avid DIYer, I enjoy finding creative ways to reuse common household items. Electrical plugs make for interesting canvases to create three-dimensional sculptures, paintings, jewelry, and more.
Finding Used Plugs and Outlets
The first step is sourcing old plugs and outlets. Here are some ideas on where to look:
- Hardware stores – Check the discount sections for loose plugs and outlets. Many stores sell these secondhand once they are removed from packaging.
- Thrift stores – Scan the electronics sections of local thrift and antique shops. They often have bins of loose cords and plugs for just a few dollars.
- Online marketplaces – Search eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc. for people selling used plugs and outlets at low prices.
- Renovation waste – If you or someone you know is renovating their home, ask to keep the discarded plugs.
- Your own home – Check closets, basements, garages for any loose plugs you may have. Replacements when upgrading to GFCI outlets are also great to repurpose.
Make sure all plugs have been fully disconnected from any power source before handling.
Cleaning and Preparing Plugs
Before repurposing electrical plugs for art, they need to be thoroughly cleaned and prepared:
- Use a stiff brush to scrub away any dirt or debris on the plug exterior.
- Clean the crevices with an old toothbrush and rubbing alcohol to disinfect.
- Check interior metal prongs for any corrosion and scrub with steel wool to remove.
- Use pliers to gently bend and straighten any prongs or mounting brackets as needed.
- Sand down any rough edges or textures you want smoothed out.
- Wipe down with a clean cloth once done scrubbing and prepping.
Properly cleaning the plugs will create a blank canvas ready for your creative ideas.
Fun Repurposing Project Ideas
Here are some DIY ideas to transform salvaged electrical plugs into art:
Wall Plug Sculptures
- Stack, glue, and arrange plugs into abstract 3D sculptures. Scraps of wood, hardware, and found objects can be incorporated too.
- Coat finished sculptures with spray paint or acrylic paint for color. Consider a bold contrasting color palette for maximum effect.
- Affix sculpted plug artworks onto wood backings and hang on the wall.
Plug Canvas Paintings
- Paint the plastic or metal surfaces of plugs and outlets for a modern pop art look.
- Get creative with paint techniques like drips, splatters, patterns, and textures.
- Incorporate other mixed media elements like marker scribbles, collage papers, or fabric.
- Adhere finished plug paintings to board backings and display as wall art.
Electrical Plug Jewelry
- Transform large plugs into pendants for necklaces and earrings by adding jump rings and chains.
- Use batteries, switches, and other hardware as complementary elements.
- Incorporate beads, gems, found objects to adorn plug jewelry with color and texture.
- Clear coat pieces with resin or varnish for a glossy finished look.
The possibilities are endless for the types of plug art you can create! Let your imagination run wild.
Tips for Working With Electrical Plugs
When crafting plug art, follow these tips to stay safe and achieve the best results:
- Check for sharp points or edges and cover with tape or sand down.
- Wear gloves to protect hands from prongs and metal edges.
- Work in a ventilated area – avoid breathing in old paint or residue.
- Seal finished artworks with a clear sealer to prevent exposure to unsafe materials.
- Check that all parts are securely adhered – metal prongs can come loose when disturbed.
- Display plug art out of reach of young children to prevent safety hazards.
- Ensure sculptures have a solid base so they don’t easily tip over.
With some simple precautions, repurposed plug art makes for whimsical home decor projects!
Breathing new life into old electrical outlets and plugs through DIY art is a gratifying upcycle. Salvaging and sourcing the materials takes some hunting but yields a virtually free art medium. Get creative combining plugs with paint, hardware scraps, found objects and more. Then proudly display your unique plug art creations in your home!