Tag Archives: reconstructed

the great tidy-up began today

I’ve had to put things on hold a bit here as I’ve embarked on something that is long over-due.  The great big tidy-up.

I’m a hoarder – I come from a family of hoarders – and this hoarding has never been put in check.  Now it’s got out of hand and I need to be ruthless.  So while I only work 2 days a week I’m using the rest of the time to sort my crap out.

Today I started on the worst offender – my study.  It’s always been the ‘junk room’ where things get dumped and lost.  It’s going to be a longer and bigger job than I originally thought.  I had to reign myself in from saving old envelopes because I could create gorgeousness from them like these:

Security Envelope Tags by The Felt Mouse

Security Envelope Tags by The Felt Mouse

Security Envelope Buttons by The Workroom

Security Envelope Buttons by The Workroom

Beads by JPolka

Beads by JPolka

Beautiful Art - by ClumsyBird

Beautiful Art - by ClumsyBird

However it was my wardrobe where I was having my biggest fight.  I find it so difficult to give away clothes, constantly thinking that ‘I will fit into that again one day’ or ‘I could alter that to make something better’.  However some items of clothes must leave my wardrobe and either head their merry way to a charity shop OR head their way into creating my new quilt.  I’ve decided that my big quilt will be my winter project.  A hodge-podge of colours and designs.  Large enough to fit our super-king size bed.  I’m not going for a complicated pattern for my first proper quilt – just a simple box design.  This pool on  Flickr is a great inspiration:    Reclaimed Fabric, Patchwork and Quilting

So I’ll try and blog in a few days with another tribute to some wonderful upcyclers.  I also have some new buys to share with you lovely people 🙂 In the meantime keep recycling and being wonderfully creative!

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Filed under Life, Patchwork/quilting

C30 C60 C90 GO!

I’m a child of the 80s.  I’m a child who sat next to the radio waiting to press ‘record’ when my favourite tracks came on the Chart Countdown.  I’m a child who sat with her microphone and recorded her own radio stations much to her elder self’s disturbance.

As I progressed into the 90s, tapes took on a whole different meaning.  I remember becoming friends with the ‘coolest’ girls in school because one of them had Cupid & Psyche (Scritti Politti) and Songs From The Big Chair (Tears for Fears) on tape and she dubbed them for me (as you can probably tell – the cool kids in my school weren’t the ‘rich and trendy’ ones). As your collection grew you started making mix-tapes for your friends.  Or ‘taped letters’ for your pen-friends.

Fast forward to discovering the opposite sex.  I was kind of a late bloomer – I didn’t get my first ‘proper’ boyfriend until I was 16 (believe me, that was late amongst my friends!) and I remember making him mix-tapes.  He never liked the ones I made – and a mix-tape I made him as I went off to Uni and he stayed at home ended up sparking the argument that eventually caused our break-up.

The end of mix-tapes occurred for me a few years after I’d finished uni.  I was working in a video shop and we used to listen to music in there – often the staff would make mix-tapes to listen to – mine never got played as my music was a bit too ‘alternative’ – however – one special day a colleague of mine made me a mix-tape.  I had to go and have an endoscopy and I was going alone.  My friend felt bad he couldn’t come with me and posted a mix-tape through my letterbox that morning to cheer me up. My boyfriend at the time wasn’t happy about that and started to read things into the lyrics of the songs on the tape.   Apparently ‘Things Change’ by The Bluetones was a message for us to split up.  Eventually my bf’s paranoia and obsession drove my colleague and I into each other’s arms – we’ve been there ever since – some 12 years later!

So as you can see, the mix-tape means a lot to me.  I have so many more memories of creating tapes for my sister, my pen-friends, the pain at a tape getting eaten in the cassette deck … I love tapes and so I’m loving this whole 80s revival.

You can see where this is going can’t you?  Yup – my love of tapes made me look into what you can turn the humble tape into if you don’t want to keep it in its original form.  I wasn’t prepared for how diverse the tape has become – it can be turned into almost anything – and here are just a few of those things:

Art

ifi5 has produced some amazing art from recycled cassette tapes:

I really fell in love with her art and found it difficult to feature only a couple of pieces. She states on her website that:

“I am a self-taught artist who works with non-traditional media. Most of my materials have been discarded or donated at some point.

I try to express an idea, through the arrangement of very common things, with the hope that some message is conveyed without words.

I love the nostalgia of the archaic and I hope that not everything which has outlived its use goes to waste.”

HEAR HEAR 🙂  That’s what we like to hear! One day I hope to be able to afford one of her pieces – I think it would look awesome decorating our walls.

More wonderful art incorporating cassette tapes and other media.

I love the imagination behind this work – and the colours ROCK.

Household goods:

Obviously because of their shape and size cassette tapes make excellent frames as this shows.

I need a new jewelry box – I like this idea – though it’s made me think of another way of doing it – just need those tape cases without the poky bits!

This is by far my favourite invention of what to do with cassette tapes (although I do think that perhaps these are mini-tapes as this lamp would be freakin’ HUGE if they were normal sized ones)  The light it reflects is beautiful and the design is so simple.  Obviously there are many impersonators around trying to create the same thing however I’ve not seen one that is entirely successful.  Well definitely not as successful as this one.

I’m intrigued as to how they find a bulb that won’t melt the tapes – most tutorials I’ve seen suggest fitting it around an existing cheap Ikea lamp, however that doesn’t really sit with my ‘second-hand life’ ethos.  So I’ll have to think into this more about how I might try and make one of these.

JEWELLERY (of course!)

I think almost everything can be upcycled into jewellery. And cassette tapes are no exception.  Here are three of my favourites:

I especially like the first example of crotcheting the tape to create that beautiful neckpiece.  The other two designs have given me ideas (oh dear) of how to create some wicked earrings and cuff using cassettes.  Such great imagination though!

Journals and Note-books

This is the final section (for now) – as always I have found NUMEROUS examples of how to upcycled your cassettes however I just think I could overload you (and myself) with ideas – so I’ll save them for a later post!

I’m fascinated by the idea of creating my own journals and notebooks, I think I’ve previously mentioned my obsession with buying stationary – so it’s natural that I should think of upcycling paper to create my own.  I especially liked the idea of a tape sized note-book:

I especially like this one – it’s simple and streamlined design really makes me think of Muji products.  So … I thought I’d give it a go.

Polly’s Craft A Week – Week1 – Making my own journals:

In my usual way I don’t make things simple and streamlined – I tend to go overboard.  Also I find tutorials very difficult to follow – I’m a kinaesthetic learner through and through, I need to learn by either doing or being shown.  Reading how to do something doesn’t really help.  So I just botched this one together and I think it’s alright actually.  It’s a tribute to the mix tapes of old with loads of the magazine cuttings we still have from a collection we were going to use for mix-tapes (how sad are we?).  So it’s a bit rude (which is my way sometimes) – however I’ve got other ideas about how I’m going to create another one using my collages:

As you can see I didn’t finish it off very well and there IS a reason for that.  This was just the trial run.  I’m going to give it a go with one of my old Marc Almond tapes.  I’ve got the album on CD so I don’t need the tape any more – we’ll see what I come up with eh?

If you want to try and follow a tutorial on how to do this you can find a couple here:

Cassette Case Note-book

Cassette Tape mini-journal

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Filed under Cassettes, Craft a Week, Uncategorized

scourge of the letter boxes

Really, this isn’t a ground breaking comment to make to say that we ALL must hate junk mail. Don’t we? Please say we do. The whole idea of junk mail is vile and intrusive. The amount of times I’ve actually caught someone about to post a pizza menu through my letter box and I’ve taken it from them and posted it straight into my recycling bin.

I do have a confession to make however. As a teenager I used to deliver junk mail to raise money for my summer holidays. My aunty used to do it as a living, and over the summer holidays I’d be given my own round to do. It was back-breaking work for very little money. And now I feel very bad for filling peoples’ boxes with these pieces of trash – however – when one is a teenager one needs to make money!

Recently we’ve had a marked increase in the amount of menus we get through our box – pizza menus generally make me feel quite unwell (the photographs are most unappetising) and I think we’ve tried every Indian and Chinese menu with little excitement or impression. Thankfully one of our cats thinks he’s a dog and tends to ‘collect’ the junk mail, acting as our own personal shredder 🙂

So in my usual manner I’ve been looking for things to do with junk mail. For myself, I’ve only managed collages:

Unfortunately I can’t post a lot of the photos of what people have done with junk mail – which I understand ENTIRELY.  So go to Gallery 1 on Flickr – for wonderful ideas on what to do with junk – including obligatory jewellery as well as journals, a quilt and bowls 🙂

I intend to add to this – however I’m still feeling pretty rough with flu – haven’t slept properly for 4 nights now.  So I’ll finish this later 🙂

EDIT:

Ok … it’s now a much more reasonable time and although I’m in bed feeling like poo I thought I’d finish this entry properly as there are too many talented people out there who need their junk repurposing pimped 🙂

I’ve never thought of recycling paper to create a paper product designed to be written/ drawn on – however now – I can see the joy of using recycled junk mail to create journals, tags, envelopes and other stationary.

Junk mail to satisfy your stationary desires

This is a beautifully designed journal – simple yet clean and minimal.  This recycler has a whole set of journals created from upcycled materials and is a real inspiration to this lady sitting at her laptop typing this.  You really have NO IDEA how many journals and notebooks I have – and to know that there is a way of creating my own notebooks out of all that crap that gets shoved through my letter box is an awesome idea.

I’m going to hunt out the materials needed and start creating my own journals – oh dear – another idea!

You can also see Lootsvele’s upcycled journals here – I love the use of envelopes to create spaces to stash your tickets etc.  I think these would make fantastic presents.

eco-monster seems to be a real star of recycling materials – I’m in love with so many of her ideas – they’re very pretty and pastel-coloured – not very

much like me but I can still appreciate.

This ‘address box’ is especially creative – so country-cottage yet such a simple idea.

Madhatrk’s packaging is very special – takes a bit of energy to make by the looks of things (see the tutorial here) however the final result is REALLY effective.

Junk mail = style

Of course junk mail can be turned into clothes and jewellery – what made you think that it couldn’t?:

Origami star earrings from upcycled junk mail etc.

Origami star earrings from upcycled junk mail etc.

home ECOnomics - paper jewellery

home ECOnomics - paper jewellery

Quilling can be turned into jewellery

Quilling can be turned into jewellery

cute and simple

cute and simple

As you can see from this very small selection – junk mail can be used for some wonderful accessories – when with shops like Accessorize actually start using recycled products rather than creating jewellery that LOOKS as though it’s recycled?

Finally – for now (there will be more to come – I’m quite aware that with every blog post – the more I search – the more I find worth mentioning and pimping 🙂 ) I wanted to leave you with an amazing piece of wearable art that an ex-student of mine created for a Metro Newspaper competition.  However I can’t find the image of the dress anywhere on the internet.  She created it from many copies of Metros (a free newspaper that tends to fill train carriages), folding hundreds of origami cranes for the skirt.

When I find the image I will post it here – until then here’s her profile on Untold. Believe me – she will be a force to be reckoned with – winning Young Designer of the Year aged just 14!

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Filed under Art, jewellery, junk mail, Life, origami

Upcycled fabric jewellery

Like a lot of people who work with fabric I have a lot of bits left over.  And being the woman that I am I obviously don’t throw them away.  Some find their way onto my ever growing ‘crazy patchwork’ bag – other stay sitting in a bag waiting to be turned into something.

Recently when I couldn’t sleep one morning I found a tutorial on making fabric beads – and started playing.  I’m not very good at following tutorials and started kind of making up my own fabric bead design.  The final result was this:

old dressing gown becomes upcycled necklace

old dressing gown becomes upcycled necklace

I’m not entirely satisfied with it – I think it might need a lot more work – however I have a lot of other beads that I’ve made some I’m going to try some different designs.  I also think that I should add some more beads to the top right hand side (where I’ve already started adding beads) as a focus.

In the meantime, here are some wonderfully exciting upcycled/ repurposed/ recycled fabric jewellery pieces that really inspire me to be more creative.

Fabric bracelet by Little Miss Crafty

Fabric bracelet by Little Miss Crafty

This little bracelet seems so simple yet so cute and fluffy. I love the colours (although they’re not the type I’d wear) and it just is SO yummy.  Makes me want to go out and make my own cute little fluffy bracelet.

Read more of Little Miss Crafty’s adventures here:

http://www.littlemisscrafty.blogspot.com/

Hand Made jewellery by Medusa - http://www.labottegadimedusa.com/

Hand Made jewellery by Medusa - http://www.labottegadimedusa.com/

I’m in love with this wonderful piece.  It has its roots in vintage style and is a real focus piece.

Absinthe and Orange

Absinthe and Orange

Absinthe and Orange creates such beauty out of repurposed material and clothing.  Again, like a lot of things I love, the colours aren’t something I ever really wear, however to own a piece like this and have an excuse to build an outfit around them would be something too good to miss! With fabric jewellery like this you KNOW that everyone will keep looking at it and noticing new things that make up this beautiful design.

Sonya's Boutique

Sonya's Boutique

Sonya’s fabric necklaces are real focus pieces that combine strong colour palettes and inspired designs.  Check out her etsy store – I cannot believe how cheaply she sells her work! Honestly – it’s worth more than this! Once I can get properly onto Etsy (it’s playing up for me at the moment) I’m going to purchase one of her pieces before prices sky rocket!

Finally I’m in love with the unusual work of Beehive Girl

I love her combinations of bones and lace – and I love the way in which her pieces aren’t just ‘focus’ pieces – they make you sit up and stare! You can’t stop looking and if you’re me – you can’t stop wanting!

Really – how can you NOT be inspired by these wonderful women’s designs?

Here are some tutorials – often showing you the steps for building up your designs:

How to make a necklace from fabric scraps

What to do with all those scraps

Ruffle necklace

Fabric Flower Necklace

These are just very basic instructions – I figure you can adapt each tutorial to add more and more to make a wonderful statement piece.

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Filed under jewellery, tutorials, Upcycling

What to do with books #2

Back again – thought I’d continue the blog (curtailed this morning because I really felt awful – was awake at 3:30am with my cold playing up).

So far, we have bags and art.  Of COURSE there is way more that you can do with books.

Turn books into jewellery

I LOVE jewellery – as a girlie – I really don’t think one can have too many accessories.  Especially if they aren’t from Primarni (!) or Claire’s Accessories – but are made from sustainable sources – and if possible – using your own fair hands.  However, if you don’t feel that you have the ability to create your own beautiful jewellery – I’m sure that these wonderful women would be willing to sell you some of their work:

Effemeral Life

Effemeral Life

Liz Hamman is a mixed media artist from Manchester – and I am in total awe of her work. She doesn’t appear to have a store although you can contact her here

Her work is a mixture of origami and a vivid imagination.  Obviously with paper – it has ephemeral nature – is it really meant to last? It’s fragile and so delicate.

I find it hard to actually pick a piece of her work to choose as my favourite – so I’m going to link to her slideshow here. Goggle her innovation and let your imagination FLY!

Betty Pepper

Betty Pepper

Betty Pepper’s designs are stunning – I would love to be able to buy just one piece of this beautiful work.  I think what makes her jewellery even more special is the way that she presents it.  Showing the necklaces simply falling from the books they were made from.

“Betty calls the books orphans and she finds them in charity shops already carrying their own secret stories, looking for new homes. The jewellery finds solace in the books as it too has a story attached to it, who it belonged to, when it was given, why… Betty likes to use second hand textile in her work as she says it has a tactile, human quality and, like the books, it carries scents and stories, wears and fades like memories.”

Ann Martin is a quilling expert – and she creates some beautiful pieces.  She essentially uses quilling paper – however I wonder to myself whether it’s possible to use paper from books.  The results may not be as delicate or as uniform as hers but it could be worth trying. You can find the tutorial here.

And finally Frucci Designs.  I can’t post the images here but I urge you to visit her blog and LOVE her designs.  They are truly truly beautiful.

Hopefully this has been interesting.  There are more ideas coming up but I don’t want to overload you!

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Filed under books, jewellery, Upcycling

What to do with books – #1

A home without books is a body without soul.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

BOOK SHELVES

BOOK SHELVES

However – I sometimes wonder if the time comes when you have TOO many books.  There are days when I virtually salivate over the sight of peoples’ libraries, their shelves stocked floor to ceiling with books, and there are other days I want to take all my books and throw them out, because I don’t know when I’ll ever get round to reading every single book I’ve ever wanted to read and re-read every book I’ve loved reading.

Next to my bed right now

Next to my bed right now

Not that you can really see them – however for some reason the Stephanie Meyer ones are standing out!  Yes, I’ve read all of the Twilights – I bought The Host – however my better half says it’s rubbish.  So whether I get round to watching it is debatable. Suffice to say that’s a pile of books next to my bed.  We have 4 shelves in the bedroom full of books, 6 in the study and 9 in the living room.  That doesn’t include all of the books in the loft that still haven’t been unpacked in the 7 years we’ve been here.

Ok – so I decided to look around to see what to do with all of these books, apart from the obvious.  As I’ve blogged before – I’ve started Bookcrossing – I’m yet to see what happens there.  And of course I give books to charity shops etc.  However I do have a lot of books that are in a SHIT condition.  So decided to search around this wonderful thing we call the world wide web to see what other people do with books – upcycling wonderfulness abounds:

Turning books into purses/bags

Book Bag

Book Bag

If you click on the photo you will be taken to a video tutorial that looks pretty easy to follow – so I recommend trying this out.  I’m yet to find a book that I think will work well for this – but as soon as I do I will post it here so you can see my efforts.

SO cute

SO cute

Cute star bags

Cute star bags

These are some cute examples of books turned into purses.  There are SO many on the internet now – just search and see what you can find.

Turn books into art

Click on the photo to take you to a whole set by a school.

Click on the photo to take you to a whole set by a school.

Books of course, are art. However – to turn this form of art into more art looks so much fun.  I saw a wonderful exhibition at Fulham Palace last month entitled ‘Butterfly’ about the obsessiveness of a butterfly collector – using copies of The Collector by John Fowles (one of my favourite books).  The exhibition was very interesting and really made me want to try something similar in my purse designs.  I’ll post them when I’ve created my final design 😉

Here are some other links showcasing books into art:

Rag and Bone Blog – some collected examples of beautiful paper art – I LOVE the octopus

Books into vases

Reversing vandalism – San Francisco public library’s exhibition on old books turned into art

Fun Forever – another blog that collects some wonderful examples of books into art

{part #2 – coming up}

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Filed under Art, books, Uncategorized

Billy Bargains #2

Yesterday I went on my usual lunchtime wander.  I’m starting to tire of the shops we have in Lewisham – the only thing that seems to change are the books.  And there are only so many books one can own!

So I bought two more:

books books and more books

books books and more books

I’ve wanted to read Mr Toppit for a while and I’m sure that M will love it.  He’s always looking for new books to read.  He’s trying to get through The Host at the moment and hates it.

The other book, Blek Le Rat is a book about stencil art.  Literally it looks like it’s never been opened.  So it’s going to form part of M’s birthday present.  I’m taking him out for the rest of it so don’t think I’m being uber tight with my husband.  It’s just that although we always buy each other trips or holidays for our birthdays, it IS always nice to have a little something to open.

These books were bought from the Cancer Research shop in Lewisham – 75p a book 🙂  So I think these are bargains 😉

To be upcycled

To be upcycled

I found this t-shirt in the British Red Cross shop – I think I’m going to upcycle it into a halter shirt – it’s so cute – however I might dye it first.  Yellow really isn’t my colour.

Finally the records I bought on Monday:

To be upcycled

To be upcycled

Dontcha just LOVE Engelbert? I can’t believe he actually chose to be called that.  Anyway – these are to be some bags.  However my first attempt at making a vinyl record bag fell flat on its face:

First attempt at a vinyl record bag

First attempt at a vinyl record bag

I didn’t actually make the ‘bag’ big enough for the album – and too big for a single.  So I’ve had to kind of ‘shove’ the single into the middle of the bag – and sew around it.  It really doesn’t look very good does it?  I started sewing around it to try and make it look better but I really think it looks a bit poo.  Any ideas so that my couple of hours of work isn’t completely wasted?

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Filed under Bags, Billy Bargains, books, Upcycling