Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Jeepers creepers

Louise Kamara's ReVision range of limited edition jewellery debuts at the Barbican Art Gallery shop soon. What's in store? Well, each piece is handmade in London from discarded sunglasses and prescription lenses intercepted en route to landfill. The collection was inspired by New York's downtown scene in the 1970s, reflecting the era's taste for bold design statements in the face of economic crisis.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Forward march

What kind of woman does not like shoes? A very rare and unusual one, that's who.

Most of us go through multiple pairs a year, but let's be frank: toe toppers in leather, suede, nylon and rubber are built to be sturdy. After we tire of old ones, where do they go? Pretty much the landfill. It's a dark, damp place, and I am not so sure that shoes even like it there.

Enter I Can Make Shoes. This N16 outfit is determined to facilitate the strutting of stuff. Learn to make shoes, learn to make sandals or... learn to upcycle your shoedrobe! It's a £50 workshop, but I feel it's probably a bargain at any price. Don't miss the opportunity to transform golden oldies into Cinderella slippers.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Someone kindly pointed me in the direction of a site called Bachelor's Degree Online; specifically I was encouraged to check out a post titled 80 Awesome Upcycling Ideas for Your Dormroom Decor. If you live in halls of residence - or even if you don't - then roll up roll up, read up read up. (I positively challenge you to resist the lure of the snow globe made from a baby food jar.)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Stamp collection

In case your calendar is broken, please be advised that Valentines Day is only a few days away. Mr Tiffany would like very much for you to buy a shiny shiny new thing for your special someone. And why not?

I'll tell ya why not - you might not have thousands to spend. This describes my personal situation too. So here's an idea. I have a super old set of stamps that came from my grandparents' house, containing all the letters and symbols a signmaker might have used before the advent of computers and printer cartridges, and prior to the easy dissemination of fonts like Verdana or Ariel. By simply borrowing a few of the stamps from the set, my home now now proclaims "S & V forever!" This is a handy reminder to the tenants of our home, and as an added benefit it did not require any of these said tenants to acquire a personal loan.

Chips and starts

Our van propelled itself all the way to Devon and some of the way back chomping on delicious biodiesel from a company in our neighbourhood called Uptown Oil. Uptown Oil delivers cooking oil to restaurants, then returns to pick the stuff up once it's served its purpose in sizzling up saveloys and the like. From an railway arch in SE1 the stuff is cleaned up for motor use. Uptown Oil is the only manufacturer of biodiesel in London, and their product is 10p cheaper per litre from what you'll get charged at BP and all its dirty brethren. What I like about all this is that it's an opportunity to use a resource for a second time, doubling its usefulness before it's deemed "waste". Recycling cooking oil in this way is much more efficient than raising crops specifically for use as biodiesel (a short-sighted tactic which means less food can be cultivated).

Drivers, start your engines.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Cut and run

Let's face it peeps; there's upcycling... and then there's upscale upcycling.

Some of us might have naff shopping tote bags to hand, and finding a new use for them is commendable. But how's this for an inspiring tale? Jeweller Sarah Stafford took two heirlooms belonging to a client. Altogether she had 88 diamonds at her disposal. From an old brooch and a pendant, two amazing rings were made. I've interviewed Sarah for a feature I'm working on - check out the tale of her uber-upcycling on her website, and while you're there you can also book a spot in her jewellery school to maybe render such sparkly miracles of your own.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Snap! It's a cushion

A very nice surf shop in Braunton just closed down this weekend. We went and made some purchases and got a bag for life. A little tag inside reports the bag was not made in a sweatshop. And yet even this will not convince me to use it, because I have a huge catalogue of similar bags I am struggling to find uses for.

But it's a nice design, commemorates a fine institution and would look good in our campervan...

I had a vision. A feather pillow insert was stuffed inside and a new future for the bag became a possibility. I unstitched the handles; sewed on five press studs; discovered I'd put them in wrong way round and took them off; tried again with the press studs; broke a needle; stabbed a finger; drew blood; finished the pillow; was very pleased.

Hang it all

Bags for life depress me. The cynic in me is convinced that a) they were all clearly made in sweatshops and b) anyone who dispenses such bags only does so to make me their branding packhorse.

I need no more bags for life. What I need are things to kit out our new campervan. Tea towels. Cushions. And suchlike.

After being outbid on Ebay for a tea towel in our van's livery colours of red and blue, I took matters into my own hands. One Paul Smith bag was unstitched along the sides; its front handle was removed; the resulting strip of fabric was cut down to tea towel size and pressed flat with an iron; the raw edges were artfully frayed; two seams were run along each side; a ribbon was sewn on the back corner.

The bag is reborn as a tea towel. After the procedure, the new towel is recovering well and the operation is deemed a success.