Monday, 21 December 2009

Play's the thing

My mom's friend Mary pointed out an upcycling story in our very own local paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This comes from a feature on 12 things to do over the holiday season with kids:

Though there are certainly exceptions in these hard times, most kids receive a stunning number of store-bought presents in coming days. A visit to the exhibit “The Power to Play: From Trash to Treasure,” at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum through Jan. 10, might give them the gift of understanding just how good they've got it.

It’s a show of 75 recycled toys made by children in war-torn and impoverished areas in Asia, Africa and the Americas. For instance, there’s a soccer ball made of plastic grocery bags wrapped with twine from Kenya and trucks from plastic bottles or wood scraps from Dominica. 678- 222-3700,

The exhibition was organised by ChildFund, and has already appeared this year at the Children's Museum in Boston, the Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Monday, 14 December 2009

To the rescue

What do you get when you combine a firehose, truck tarpaulin and safety belt? If you are the nifty German company Feuerwear, you get a messenger bag, shopping bag, handbag, laptop bag...

Hot hot hot, right?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Fruit toss

My last post was about unusual aesthetic uses for fruit and veggies. Today I've discovered some fun furnishings upcycled from fruit crates and timber off-cuts. About a year ago I interviewed two lovely people called Sarah Kay and Andrea Stemmer, who together are the furniture design firm Kay + Stemmer. You can commission the pair to make bespoke furniture for you, or you can buy their pieces at places like Heal's and SCP. Or... you can take yourself over to Contemporary Applied Arts like I did last week and admire then buy their Tutti Frutti waste paper bin and magazine holders. These will soon be available on the Kay + Stemmer website as well.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Tater truths

Don't eat potatoes that have started to go a bit green, because the change in colour indicates that the skin now contains poison that's similar to arsenic. I read that on the interweb somewhere, which I'm sure you'll agree is a very reputable source of information.

When your tubers turn radioactive in colour and poisonous in composition, they are no longer fit for human consumption. So why not turn them into a Christmas scene, as the greengrocers in East Wittering has done?

(Although Mr Green Santa Potatohead cannot talk, I can read his facial expression and it's clear that he also wants us all to consider his friend the chili pepper - pictured to his left - as a candidate to be upcycled into a nose for your next snowman.)

Friday, 4 December 2009

Tie one on

Remember Esther Coombs, the designer/maker who takes vintage crockery and overlays upon it her own line drawings? Here's another example of a designer taking existing materials and giving them her own eco-styled stamp. Tamasyn Gambell prints onto vintage scarves to make something new and lovely from something old and unloved. I'm quite keen on her hardback notebooks - covered in vintage printed scarves, these are bound by a family bookbinders in Essex and use recycled paper stock from a 100-year-old British paper mill.

But hey don't take my word for it - Tamasyn's work will be available this weekend:

East London Design Show, Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street
Friday 4th December (12pm – 8pm )
Saturday 5th December (10am – 6pm)
Sunday 6th December (10am – 6pm)
Admission: £4, concessions: £2, accompanied children under 16 free

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Bright futures

Forget upcycling for the minute folks - can you believe there are still people out there who don't recycle basic things like glass, newspaper and aluminium? My brother lives in Miami, and lawmakers and taxpayers there apparently don't think recycling is a priority. If you leave cans, bottles and papers at the kerb they'll stay put till a tropical breeze comes and blows them away. If you want to recycle them, your only choice is to load them into your car and drive them to a recycling centre in Dade County. Not clever!

Maybe examples like this stem from the fact that recycling is kind of abstract (unlike upcycling I suppose, where the rewards are more immediate). Naysayers should take a look at Resilica's new website, where they will learn that "Resilica is a truly bespoke worktop and surface material which is hand made in the UK from 100% recycled glass waste. Mixed with a specially developed solvent-free resin system then cast into solid panels, the surface is ground away and polished to reveal fragments of embedded glass which reflect light."

If you click on over and view their case studies, no doubt you - like me - will come down with a bad case of kitchen envy. And maybe you'll be encouraged to collect a few more glass bottles to recycle for the cause.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009