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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Ten Great Uses for Wire Hangers

Wire coat hangers have been around at least a hundred years, effectively hanging up our clothes in closets, but also just as effectively getting tangled and bent out of shape. As long as I can remember, wire hangers have been used to replace missing radio and TV antennas. They are a source of frustration, great to use in a pinch and also help hold our clothes up in the closet, but what else can they be used for? Well, before you turn into Joan Crawford from "Mommy Dearest" and scream "no more wire hangers!" try these great uses for the simple, yet useful, invention: The Wire Hanger.
  1. Dowsing Rods: The first suggestion is the most interesting. Dowsing rods have been used for centuries to divine for water, treasure, graves and spirits. Simple rods that are bent in a print letter "L" shape, dowsing rods are said to pick up on the vibrations of whatever the seeker is searching for. You will need two wire hangers, cut the hangers at the bend of the long side (bottom) and halfway up the short piece on the other end. Now bend the short piece out so that it is straight. The two pieces should be at a right angle from each other. Use as you would a regular dowsing rod.
  2. Antennas: I couldn't forget antennas in this article. For a radio or television that is not working, a wire hanger works great as a set of antennas. Simply straighten the hook and stick it into the broken end of an antenna. Twist and shape it until a decent reception signal comes through.
  3. Costumes: In a pinch, wire hangers are great for using in costumes for Halloween or any dress-up party. Shape them into wings and stretch a sheer material over them, gluing or sewing the material into place as your talents allow. Shape into a circle and glue on some garland (like Christmas tree decorations) for a halo. They also make great antenna for an alien costume, or for insect antennae. Be creative, wire hangers are a great and cheap way to aid in creating your own costumes.
  4. Staking Plants: Plants that grow tall often need a stake to help them grow straight and strong rather than lay limply on the ground, sunflowers are one example. A stick from the yard or a dowel rod works great as the stake, and a wire hanger can help keep the plant connected to the stake. Cut pieces about 4-6 inches in length and after placing the stake in the dirt next to the plant, help secure it to the stake by twisting a bit of wire around both the stake and the plant. Be careful not to twist too tight so that the wire cuts into the plant.
  5. Clothespin Holder: With an old tank top or t-shirt, sew a straight stitch along the bottom. Place the hanger through the armholes as usual. The neck of the shirt is now the opening of your "bag" and you can toss clothespins in to take to the clothes line. Hang the hook of the hanger over the clothesline and you can move it along as you hang clothes. This can also be hung on a hook on the wall and used to hold toys, diapers, craft supplies or other miscellaneous items.
  6. Crafts and Hobbies: Wire is a common material in crafts and hobby work. In a pinch, when out of wire, a wire hanger can be cut and used to hold things together, to strengthen flowers in an arrangement, and many other uses. One great use for crafters and hobbyists that paint is to hang the hanger from the ceiling, upside down and using the hook, hang and item either to dry or as a way to spray paint and cover the whole area at once. They can also be used as frame work in crafts such as in making paper mache or mobiles.
  7. Household Help: A straightened wire hanger is great for shoving down a drain to help clear the clog, to twist around something to help hold it together, to clean out wax from candle holders, to clean out smoking pipes, or any other number of uses in which a sturdy but flexible object can be used. Try using a wire hanger next time you have to reach something on a tall shelf, the hanger works great to either "hook" it and pick it up or at least to pull it closer to you so you can reach it.
  8. Car Doors: Who hasn't locked their keys in their car at some point? Wire hangers have probably been used to get doors unlocked since cars were first invented. Straighten the wire hanger and stick it down into the door or window to jimmy the lock loose, you'll obviously need some vision for this trick.
  9. Cooking: Yes, wire hangers can be used as a cooking utensil. When cooking over an open fire, a wire hanger straightened out works great to hold hot dogs or marshmallows. The metal does get hot and the heat could travel through the hanger so be wary of that.
  10. Bubble Wands: What kid (or adult who is young at heart) doesn't love a nice warm day of playing with bubbles? A wire hanger can be shaped into anything and used to make large bubbles (which will always come out round). By using liquid detergent, mixed with water, and a wire hanger, a day of bubble fun can be had without spending a dime.
How about one more for keeping cables in their place? Find yourself a plastic pants hanger and cut the hook off. Wrap one end around one of the clips a few times (in case you'll need just a few inches of slack) then wrap it up along the hanger. When you get to the end, wrap it once around the hook to anchor your progress and go back the way you came. Repeat until clutter free. Success! So, there you have it. Ten great uses for wire hangers. Next time you get frustrated and want to twist them out of shape in anger and toss them to the curb, think about these alternatives.

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