Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pimping the Upcycled Pad Pt 1.- Mummy, There's a Bathtub in The Loungeroom

So far we've looked on the wearable side of upcycling, but how about upcycling in the home?
During a conversation with a friend the other day, I was discussing what I was up to with this series of atricles. I fear at the moment, upcycling suffers from the public perception that organics did in the earlier days: it's a realm for environmental activists and hippies and is really all too much effort and expense. With the aide of advocates, the socially conscious and companies such as Macro Wholefoods bringing organics into the mainstream, there is a definite shift occurring in perceptions.

The aim of my game is to have upcycling enter the consciousness of society as a completely normal and preferable thing to do. Easy, breezy and fun. I am merely a small cog in the wheel, but this is the aim of my game!

This friend mentioned that perhaps the reason upcycling into home objects wasn't more prevalent was that most people look at a brick and a fence pailing and think house with a fence. I look at a brick and a fence paling and think bookshelf.

However, perhaps where the notion of upycling furniture suffers a little is in the notion that it needs to be quite raw or rustic. This, and that if it is not, it's still very much in the realm of the artisan rather than mainstream.

The following upcycling furniture producers prove that sentiment VERY wrong!

Mummy, There's a Bath tub in the Loungeroom....

... and his name is Max.

Cleverly designed by the team over at reestore, this bath tub chaise is amusing, upcycled and functional without compromising on aesthetics.

Other contemporary & curious conversions from reestore include Agnes the car bumper sofa and Annie the shopping trolley chair.

Amazing. Inspiring. Funky. Clean. Contemporary. Junktion both amuses me and makes me want a bigger space to live in so I can have a piece or two.

Founded in Tel Aviv in 2008, Junktion produces pieces made from everyday objects and takes them out of context to create pieces that are useable, functional, viable and sometimes unusual.
The commitment behind Junktion is that we already have enough "stuff" in the world, but we can still satisfy our human need for more stuff!

David Stovell first caught my eye for his rolled newspaper table.
Inspired by bundles of newspapers left outside of shops on a Saturday night, Stovewell’s simple yet beautifully effective Sunday papers explore the “compressed life cycle” of the material:
“[they] have a cultural and economic value, and that the same product has a different set of values by Monday morning, in that the news is old news and their value is for pulp. I wondered that if by simply repackaging, the material life cycle could be extended."

David innovatively uses the headlines and images of the papers to create patterns and design. I find the glass topped table made out of what looks like the equivalent of the Sunday Magazine. The scope for cusomisation to your home is endless.
Best of all, David provides "How to" instructions both via PDF and video. He does this to "...encourage people to look at the materials around them."

Another interesting paper offcut piece from David is the Stack Table.

Made from printer's offcuts, the stacks of the paper that form the legs of the table are mechanically held together by Oak caps. There is no glue involved!

But surely one of the major users of forest products in the home is the floor.

I was speaking to another friend the other day whilst sitting amongst the mouse house chatting about how I have the urge to paint everything white. But then, I said, I would want a black floor. Well the team at Ting have the perfect solution for me (at about $75 USD per meter):

Upcycled leather belt flooring by Ting

Inghua Ting established TING in 2000. Following her graduation from the Royal College of Art, Inghua worked in Japan developing innovative, futuristic fabrics. However, working at the forefront of fabric technology led her to considering sustainable issues, and the challenge of designing and producing a desirable, luxury product from recycled materials. Inspired by old leather belts, reclaimed seat belts, old braces, vintage leather saddles, salvaged fabrics and tie silks. Inghua cleverly incorporates these materials into new designs to show them off to their best advantage.

Next: Part 2: No Skating in the House!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 29, 2009

From Trashbag to Handbag

It's soon to become my new "gotta make it" obsession: The Handbag.

To me, the handbag is almost equatable to a best friend: when you find a good one, one that you can take everywhere, goes with every outfit, can always handle whatever you've got going on, it is impossible to replace.

But have you ever thought through what goes into making a new handbag, both ethically and environmentally? Of course, there are many, MANY artisans (like one of my favourites Nancy Bird) that don't faux pax on the ethical front, but it takes a large amount of energy and often pollutants to produce new materials.

Lucky for us, there are some great upcycling efforts going on on the bag front!

Side note: Whilst researching this category, I came across a lot of "upcycled" bags that really should be sold as "altered" or "recycled" bags. Upcycling is about reclaiming a material and creating something other than what it was. You wouldn't get a milk bottle, put a decal on it, still call it a milk bottle and call it upcycled.

Salvation Sacks

Salvation Sack Episode 3: miniXL

SalvationSacks came into existence in 2002 when its creator, Margaret, was doing a Spring clean and had an epiphany about what to do with the sentimental, vintage, amazing items of clothing and bits.

The bag above is made from

recycled leather + suede miniskirts
vintage/recycled ties from the 1950s to 1990s (vary)
vintage/recycled textiles + leather remnants
recycled belt buckle as adornment (varies leather
belt as a strap

It's great to see this being done outside of the realms of Etsy & MadeIt

Margaret stocks some shapes that I hadn't yet seen in my travels such as the bowler bag.


Purse in Boots
operates out of Goshen in the US, Purse in Boots creates bags from discarded Cowboy boots. There are some gems in there!

These have quite a unique shape and a great vintage feel with that asset of upcycled leather: the preloved feel.

Mina + Oli

Mina & Oli BagMina & Oli Leather Day Bag

Another member of DUST (Down Under Street Team) on Etsy, Mina + Oli is the creation of designer Laura Thomey. Canadian born, Laura caught the travel bug and six years later finally settled in Melbourne, Australia. Laura's bags incorporate her love of fashion, creativity and op shopping

“I find it a romantic thinking about the history the leather might have once had - who wore it? - where has it traveled? - was it a cherished item? It's also great to be able to recycle and give a new life to materials that might have ended up in a landfill."
"I think fashion should be fun, I love the little details, to open your bag and have a great colorful print inside always makes me smile! A bag should be as exciting on the inside as out!”

I love this particular bag as it has that "I am so loved" feel that takes a good couple of years to get into a bag without the wear and tear on the zippers and other bits! It's also perfect for that every day bag that can be slung around with my favourite vintage look boots from Basque.

Individually hand crafted, Peace4You makes unisex satchels (yes boys, you can upcycle your man bags too!) out of materials like old army tents! The bag above, which can be found on Etsy, is made from a recycled leather jacket with a strap from an old Navy kit bag for a strap.

Based in Germany, check out the amazing ability to customise your bags at the Peace4You website (warning: it's in German but who cares... it's a visual thing!)


Forget Oroton! Lets go pulltabs instead!

The ULTIMATE in upcycling in MHO comes from Ecoist. Ecoist create
handbags made from recycled candy wrappers, food packages, soda labels, subway maps, newspapers, and other waste-bound materials. They collect waste and turn it into functional, durable and eye-catching handbags that you will simply love to own.

These are interesting and although some are a bit... loud... there are some combinations that are really quite cool!

The only thing better than the candy is this handbag from the wrappers!

And lastly but so very, VERY not the least, we have....

Ashley Watson
The beautiful Large Shell Clutch

Vancouver based designer Ashley Watson and her staff handcraft her one-of-a-kind leather products using exclusively recycled material. She began designing handbags with recycled leather in early 2005, inspired by the original features of soft and gently worn jackets purchased from charity thrift stores. She ultimately incorporates these features, such as pockets and seams, into each unique bag or wallet design.

With an extensive background in studio art, Ashley brings an innovative and environmentally sound approach to fashion design, creating products that are practical, sophisticated, and, above all, distinctive.

Ashley Watson Recycled Leather bags and wallets are sold in stores across North America, and are now available in select stores in Europe, Asia and Australia.

I can actually see the softness and quality of this leather in the images and I'm doing all I can not to call the one store that stocks them in Australia tomorrow.

Ashley's designs are intricate yet simple; classic yet funky and versatile and again have that "I've been loved" feel without the wear and tear on the rest of the bag. I'm in luuuurve!

And to think, I've only really touched on larger bags here with a tote or two... purses, make up bags, wallets... well they're a completely different kettle of fish to be explored soon... stay tuned!

Next: Pimping the Upcycled Pad

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One Person's Trash is Another Person's Bling


This is my main thing right now: creating pieces from materials found in the strangest of places. As I stated in the last post, this is fairly evident in any of the things I create, but it's a new exploration in the realm of jewellery.

I use old dynabolt casings for tubes, evening dresses that I'd normally bin for fabric, even curtain rings.

My current fetish is the old leather pants purchased from the op shop in my area run by the Sacred Heart Mission who every day assist hundreds of people who are homeless or living in poverty to find shelter, food, care and support. Anything I would normally send to landfill or, in the case of Sacred Heart, has a positive social connotation, is fair game.

There's an element of upcycling in each piece that I create.

And I am not alone! A recent call out on the DUST (Down Under Street Team) forum, a group of Australian creative geniuses who sell on Etsy resulted in some very interesting replies!


Lekker Knitting Needle PendantPendant by Lekker

Three guesses what Rachel at Lekker makes these fun and fabulous pendants out of..... Smarties?..... Skittles?... No... a stash of old knitting needles!

The item description for this piece makes everything clear:

Ever wondered what happened to Nanna's old coloured Knitting needles? I did.

This pendant has been made from my ever so secret stash of knitting needles that I have been left by the many Nanna's of the world.

While the art of knitting may be lost to the younger generation, encased in an aluminium frame made from pipe offcuts and embedded in resin, this pendant may be a sign of things to come for the fate of the knitting needle!

Having studied printmaking for years, Lekker is run out of Melbourne, Australia.


Recycled copper earringsRecycled Copper Fringe Earrings

Incalesco means glow in Latin. And I have nothing but glowing reviews for this metalsmith! Another Melbourne based artist, Erika works mainly in silver but often uses other metals & stones to giver her pieces that extra bit of colour. Her pieces are delicate yet contemporary, intricate yet versatile.

Not long before I started hunting for fellow upcyclers, Erika of Incalesco was given a pile of scrap metal by her father.

Scrap metal
And I think you would agree that there's a big difference between the pile above and what has emerged so far:

Tube EarringsEclipse Earrings


Fork Quotes

Now, I'm just going to put it out there... I'm not a huge fan of spoon & fork upcycling. There's a guy at the local market who started a trend around here and then everyone was doing it... but they were all a bit... plain for my taste.

This morning I logged on to Etsy however, and saw this utensil upcycler on the front page...

A Mum of 4, SpoonerZ takes the bits and pieces of utensils and remakes them, rejuvenates them and redefines them.

Scrap Hinge BraceletMoney Clip

Other bits and pieces

This article could go on forever. There are a bunch of people out there doing great stuff! Here's a few more...

Sea glass from EpheriellSea glass pendant by Epheriell

Steam Punk Cuff LinksSteam Punk Cuff Links from Nouveaumotley
Money ClipCufflinks from mobile phone copper & photographic silver by Ben at Biome

Circuit BoardCircuit board earrings from Upcycled Jewellery

Next: Trash bag to Handbag

Bookmark and Share