Tag Archives: recycling

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

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

Recession hits charity shops

Yesterday I went on my usual lunch time wander – and was shocked at how few clothes there are in the charity shops.  The stress of the recession on thrifting – there are so many of us now going to charity shops – many of whom didn’t go before – and less clothing donations – which means less clothes.  Also you have the swappers, the ‘vintage’ clothing stores and car boot sales (where people can earn money from their own discarded clothes) – this means that there are less and less clothes going into these shops.

Saturday I’m taking a bag of clothes to the two shops I regularly plunder – Cancer Research and British Red Cross.  I owe it to them!  I was saving clothes for a swap but I’ve realised what effect I’m having.  Arghhhhhhhh by trying to be ‘green’ I’m having and adverse effect on charity shops – can a woman never win???? ha ha

Here are a few more links about this ‘crisis’ in charity shops:

Third Sector Report

KnowHow, NonProfit

Also – there have been complaints (can you believe this?) about Oxfam’s book shops.  Oxfam have been accused of almost ‘Tesco’ and (for the States) ‘Walmart’ style targeting of areas.  They open up their stores near other second hand bookshops and the owners of these have seen their profits plummet. This is so sad – yes I support the independent booksellers – however I support a charity over personal profit.  There’s always a problem, someone is always going to suffer when someone else (in this case a charity) profits.  However it can be said that Oxfam are behaving like a large corporation – plunging their shops onto high streets and ‘taking business away’ from the smaller shops.

New York Times article – “Oxfam killed my bookshop”

Inprint – plans to open more stores

I think what is sad is that you’re not going to get ‘gems’ in Oxfam stores.  The send them off to sell on the internet – which means browsing the store isn’t going to turn up anything of wonder.  They’re generally clean and tidy stores – unlike the ‘typical’ British second-hand bookstores – which are generally a health and safety issue to enter (and more the interesting for it). I think Oxfam should be thinking about the overall effect they are having.  They are more than capable of going into areas where there is a lack of second hand book stores and they will be successful.

I personally don’t go into the stores – not out of any principle – just that they’re completely over-priced!  I don’t like Oxfam stores – there’s something too ‘clean and tidy’ about them.  When I go thrifting I want to smell the dust, I want to have to take a hit of my asthma inhaler, I want to HUNT for the bargain.  Too many charity shops are becoming sanitised and pretty – I know that this attracts NEW clients but I miss the ramshackle charity shops of my childhood.

So in my second hand life I’m going to support everyone I can.  The smaller shops, the independent traders and as many charities as I can!

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A Family Legacy

As a child I was unknowingly party to my parents’ obsessive upcycling.  Back in those days it wasn’t a trend, it was a way of life.  The way we could survive – the joys of being poor!  Many of my clothes were ‘upcycled’, how many younger children lived in their older siblings cast offs?  (if only I could find all those photos of me and my sister – her in the clothing – then me in the same a couple of years later!).

I remember coming home from primary school, my father still in bed (he worked nights) and my mother still at work; I was allowed a couple of sweets from a tin while watching Playschool.  The tin is still clear to me today.  My mother had painted an old sweet tin and then decorated it with cut out pictures from greetings cards.  I remember it clearly because it was a complete faff to try and open because the paint was so thick!

Our favourite photograph of us as kids is this one:

Stumpy Flares

Stumpy Flares

These clothes were made from some old denim material my mum had used as curtains – hence the different colours where the sun had bleached the colour out. I’m the shorter one – the younger one.

I’m so proud of my mum for being so resourceful – creating our clothes out of what she had around.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it went horribly wrong.  However she tried and that’s what counted.

In recent years my dad’s upcycling has gone crazy.  In his retirement he tries to entertain my nephew as much as possible with new and exciting toys.  These have included old drain pipes being turned into a gigantic ‘marble’ rally and using magazine pictures as targets for my nephew’s bow and arrow!  The targets themselves were made from old cushions.  I’m always fascinated by what my parents can create – I think my imagination and desire to reinvent objects (as well as my obsessive hoarding) comes from my mum and dad – and I’m SO grateful to them for this.

It seems so strange that to some people this whole idea of ‘upcycling’ is new.  I love to read advice columns about how to do it, and they suggest ‘instead of buying new books, swap with your friends’ – ha ha.  I mean – does that really not occur to people to do that?  Still – at least it’s starting to happen on a larger and wider scale now.  There is just too much stuff out there and there is a real need to re-use and recycle.  The best thing about ‘upcycling’ is that it makes you think not only about what you use and how you use it, but it also inspires creativity in you.  The amount of times I’ve sat looking at items I’m about to throw away and wondered what I could make it with.

So – whilst embarking on this project I want to think about ways of upcycling the following items:

  • Asthma pump casings
  • Old photos that aren’t any good
  • Floppy discs
  • Plastic bottle tops

If anyone has any ideas let me know – I’m all ears 🙂

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