Hot Weather Upcycling?

When the hot weather we’ve been waiting for all year finally arrives, it’s hard to find the motivation to do much apart from eating ice cream and moaning about the weather.  Luckily, this project allows the sunshine to do most of the work for you.  If your kids are anything like mine…smuggle crayonsBut here’s a way to get more use from your pile if tiny crayon stubs:  rainbow crayons.

You’ll need:

  • old and broken crayons
  • silicone moulds for ice, chocolate or soap
  • a knife
  • heat (sunshine or an oven at 100 degrees)

Start by peeling off the wrappers if there are any left.  Break or chop the crayons into pieces and arrange them in the mould.


Place the moulds in the sunshine and check periodically.



After 2 hours:

IMG_2391At the end of the day:

IMG_2373When the crayons have fully melted, I find it’s best not to move them too much or they mix into a muddy coloured mess.  I try to leave them in one spot until they’ve cooled (usually after sunset) before popping them out.  And here’s what came out:

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They make great stocking fillers or party favours, and make a brilliant swirl effect when you use them.  Maximum coolness, all with minimal effort!



Gratitude jars: a New Year’s twist on an old favourite craft.

Last year at Thanksgiving, interspersed with recipes for pumpkin spice everything, my Pinterest feed became peppered with photos of Gratitude Jars.  The Gratitude jar is a relatively new tradition in which you write down things that make you happy throughout the year and store them in a special jar.  Then when Thanksgiving, New Years or an Anniversary comes around, you have a special way to remember all the things that have made you feel grateful throughout the year.  A Pinterest search like this one offers dozens of ways to personalize your jar.

After the giving, receiving, and intensive shopping expeditions of Christmas and the January sales, it seems a lovely time to take stock and get back into the habit of being thankful for all the blessings we already have.  So we made our own Gratitude Jar from an old candle jar and tissue paper, following a colour scheme chosen by the girls.  The result:


And just to make sure we don’t forget to add to it, we slipped some LED lights inside to be sure it will catch our attention, as well as doubling as a handy night light.


Fancy one of your own?  They’ll be available in our etsy and ebay shops from next week, with the option to order one to match your chosen colour scheme.  If you fancy making one of your own, keep watching the blog for our upcoming tutorial.  Enjoy!

Up-cycled treasure from the garden

This year, the most anxiously awaited present in our house was a metal detector that my eldest added to her wish list.  She has a deep and passionate certainty that she’s going to uncover buried treasure within minutes of it’s arrival.  Unfortunately, Santa didn’t manage to fit it into his sleigh, so the post-holiday period has been spent with noses pressed to the window hoping for the postman to arrive.


Yesterday, was the big day. Having spent a small fortune on batteries and deciphered the German-only instructions, we were finally awarded with a steady beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep that’s going to ring in my ears for the next six months.  Within minutes, the intrepid explorer was able to detect a cast iron gate, a metal drain cover and the zipper on her boot.  After further practice, she began to locate a selection of tiny objects hidden under the gravel and soil.  Many of them were these:

IMG_1653Tiny springs that used to hold my clothes pegs together.  Luckily, I had been on Pinterest recently and spotted this link, which (apparently) originally connected to Estate2’s Etsy Shop.  So we got started.

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We added a bead, and then foraged through a stash of broken jewellery, and 5 minutes later we had this sweet creation.

IMG_1655It may not quite make up for the lack of gold coins, but it still kept her happy for a little while.  And if I let her keep it, maybe she’ll think of me when the big treasure starts rolling in…


Photo Round-Up for 2014

This year has been light on the blog posts, for a whole variety of reasons. (Moved house, lost the camera, computer went boom, lost the replacement camera, can’t remember the password…) But we haven’t stopped going!  Just in time to go out with a bang, here’s a round up of what we’ve been up to in 2014.

Valentine’s Day

We kicked off using leftover cardboard and wrapping paper to help make decorations for the Valentine’s Day Funky Flamingo Club Night.

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Fabric Upcycling

And somehow that lead on to several months working through various ways to upcycle fabric.  We started off with wax and glue resist batiking.  Here’s the before:

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And the finished first attempts:

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And we kept getting better!

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Then we moved on to tie dye.

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We finished some great canvases to display our jewellery on the stall:

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And made miles of bunting to help raise money for aid to Gaza.

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Around Easter time, we tried out a new shaving cream “marble effect” technique on some eggs.  We found that it didn’t stick too well to the eggs, and so we chucked some leftover canvases in there to see what happened.

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It was Awesome!


And we still had some leftover dye, (Why did we buy so much?) and so we made enormous amounts of rainbow play rice for a family event at the Buchan Street Neighborhood Centre.


The rice is dyed with food colouring and we hide beads with various shapes and letters inside, so the kids have fun digging for the pieces they want to make up a bracelet or necklace.  (Apparently, when I’m bending over helping some of the kids dig, it’s also fun for three-year-olds to pour spadefuls of rainbow rice into my bum cleavage.  Pro tip:  wear a good belt and a long top!)


We were trying to find something cool to make as favours for the Misfit Conference in Cambridge, and we came up with… spoons. We salvaged some antiques and decoupaged the misfit logo for a sweet take-home memory.DSCN1146_4423

But we couldn’t stop there.  So we spent ages (and ages) working on spoon necklaces.

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And since we had made necklaces with all the spoons, we needed to do something with the handles too!

DSCN1846This one was my daughters, but we made LOADS of them.  And in the process we collected lots (and lots) of sticks.  So we sanded and oiled and used them to make these:10155721_729831870412689_6185878862423199815_n

And at that point we were pretty taken with the idea of “pretty hanging things” so we grabbed some old bangles and frisbees to make dream catchers too.


And we still had some more canvases, so then it seemed like melting more crayons would be fun. IMG_1005

We tried breaking up CDs to use as mosaics:  Pretty, but gives you very sticky fingers.

IMG_1306We sold a few bits at craft fairs:

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And we filled some orders:

IMG_1529 DSCN1894IMG_1500We ate some lunch.

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Got a bit messy.


And we may have mucked about, just a bit.

DSCN1705 DSCN1710 10167924_722401281155748_4617176801174456327_n 10350611_780965398632669_5736798957235553474_n 10522555_780965355299340_8359389315187485233_n 10603326_780965318632677_8210564902739723159_nWe had a great year, full of ups and downs as most years tend to be.  Coming up in the new year, we’ll be working with old keys to make some fantastic stuff.

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And now that we’ve got the technical side up and running, we’ll have regular jobs and full shops on Etsy and Ebay, so you can get your hands on some of our favourite re-creations.  See you all in the new year!

Strawberry Fair

Here are some photos of the group at Strawberry Fair

DSCN7525_4211Rod showing off some of the things we made

DSCN7540_4226Rod doing some tai chi (And check out our bunting up above them!)

DSCN7538_4224More tai chi

DSCN7532_4218Sarah relaxing

DSCN7543_4229People stopping to knit at the Knitter’s Arms

This is what the guys thought of their visit to the Strawberry Fair:

Rod Says:  “Dear Strawberry Fair I like going to the fair. I enjoy the strawberry Fair.  My favourite bit was doing tai chi.”

Sarah Says:  “My favourite part was the food.  I had chicken, rice and coleslaw.”
























A word from some of our members:

I’ve done a project today with Re-Creations.  Today I’ve done a lovely drawing.  It’s nice, and I had fun and enjoyed it.  It was flowers of different colours.  I like art work and have fun doing it.  — Luisa.

melted crayon flowers

I tried to make a heart, but it came out as a funny shaped one.  I enjoy what I’m doing and had good fun.  I want to do it again.  I made two pictures.  –Rod


Here are some of the finished pictures from our other members:

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Why I’m a Mumsnet Blogger


Earlier this week, during one of my frequent occasional Mumsnet coffee breaks, I came across an interesting (and now deleted) thread.  It seems a Mumsnet blogger had received what she felt was unfair criticism from another Mumsnet member on one of her blog posts.,So the wounded blogger hit the forums to remonstrate with the culprit.  Being easily led, I clicked through to the offending commentary to see what had been said.

Well.  What struck me when I got there wasn’t the unnecessarily catty comment (which it was) on an inoffensive mum’s blog. I was more surprised by the blogger’s response:  “AIBU?  Never heard of it…”

Ok.  This is only an opinion.  But perhaps if you’re thinking of joining a blogging network, or attending and posting about their blogger’s events, maybe you might wish to familiarize yourself with the site beforehand.   You see, AIBU refers to “Am I Being Unreasonable?”, Mumsnet’s most highly trafficked, fast-paced and emotionally charged  board, contributing largely to the Mumsnet reputation as a “nest of vipers”.  Stripped of the sunny influence of avatars, tickers and hugs, posters evaluate the reasonable-ness of each other’s predicaments with a barrage of opinion, sarcasm, swearing and above all, grammar correction.


Indeed, even on a national level Mumsnet posters have gained renown for not pulling their punches, whether challenging David Cameron on free nappy provision for children with disabilities or demanding an investigation into Gordon Brown’s biscuit preferences.  Although it’s open to anyone, this parenting site won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  So if you want to join the Mumsnet blogging network and stick one of their shiny badges on your sidebar, you should anticipate that Mumsnetters might stop by your blog, and bring their opinions with them.  They may hand you your grammar on a plate, and they won’t even ((hug)) you first.

So why join our project blog to this particular network?  For me, it’s because…


1.  We are mums–some of us, anyway.  Parenthood comes as part of our package, with all the funny and frustrating aspects of being a working mum.  Our work on the Re-Creations Project often happens with kids in tow, underfoot, mucking in and helping out, just like everybody else. And since we try to break down our projects for all ages and abilities, lots of our crafts and tutorials will be fun for crafty mums and kids to try.  It makes sense to belong to a network of parents whose interests may overlap to share info and ideas.

But there are plenty of parenting sites out there.  Why choose Mumsnet in particular?

2.  The Swearing.

I can’t actually remember what first led me to Mumsnet, but I do remember what made me decide to stay.  It was the unabashed and copious use of the F-word.  You see, I had put in time on  other popular parenting sites.  Bounty, MDC, Netmums, Babycentre, Kelllymom…  In the early days of no sleep and a desperate search for answers about reflux, PND, mastitis, weaning and potty training, I lived on parenting forums.  While on the surface, many were “nicer” than Mumsnet, underneath the “huns” and kisses were parents with equally strong opinions.

On one site I was told that the way I was feeding my 17 month old to sleep was inappropriate; that my husband should “remove me” from her evening routine. I was banned from another forum, having confessed that my 22 month old had “stolen” a juice box during a shopping expedition, while I was struggling with her newborn sister.

It wasn’t that they were all a bunch of big meanies, any more than Mumsnet is really a nest of vipers.  It’s just that parenting brings out some of people’s strongest opinions, and people get awfully defensive about the way they do things.  More than once, I fled in tears from message boards of “supportive parenting sites” under the cover of shiny profile photos and tickers celebrating years of co-sleeping.  The bans on swearing and insistence that everybody play nicely, gave me a false sense of security.   I was vulnerable and unprepared when I was told:  “How disappointing, hun.  Perhaps you should dig a hole and crawl inside it to meditate on how to become a better person.  HTH! xx”.

bite me

Ahh, the relief when I crash-landed on Mumsnet in the middle of a thread about a poo-covered-pouffe. These were human beings, who accidentally got naked at the swimming pool or farted on their pets (you know who you are) and sometimes even lost the plot and swore about life.  Instead of masking their derision under hugs and huns, Mumsnetters tell you exactly what they’re thinking with warts and all.  If they want to say “Screw you!”, they say “Screw you!”  Then they come up with a hundred new ways of saying it just so nobody gets bored.

lion belly

3.  The soft and fuzzy underbelly

Like any parenting site, Mumsnet can be a harsh and opinionated place.  Just ask Amanda Holden. Sadly, the same is true just about anywhere mums come together.  From baby cafes up to the school gates, mums will defend their way of child-rearing to the hilt.  But if you hang around the site for a while, listen to what everybody has to say and take some of it with a grain of salt, you’ll start to witness amazing things.

You’ll see that a mum at loggerheads with a poster on one thread will offer to drive 50 miles to help that same poster out in a crisis.  You’ll see a dozen parents working together to reunite a toddler with his precious cuddly toy.  On one thread, hundreds of mums flood Downing Street with letters in response to a familiar poster’s cry for help, while on another thread parents stay up late into the night looking for solutions when a taxi with a baby arrives unexpectedly at a poster’s home.  In my case, you’ll see hundreds of Mumsnetters raid their rubbish bins to find ring-pulls for our project.

Because in addition to their diverse and candid opinions, Mumsnetters also have compassion and the courage of their convictions.  When parents unite for a purpose, they can offer collective knowledge and support, and bring about real and positive change–which is what parenting sites are all about.

I’ll admit, I may have flounced from Mumsnet once or twice.  I’ve  disagreed with some very notable bans (you know who you are) and there are some posters with whom I’ll just never get along.  But if I’m going to have my arse handed to me on a plate by a parenting site, then for today I’ll have mine with a cup of tea, a biscuit, a few passive aggressive strikethroughs  and a smattering of creepy wee brackets.

<skulks off to await annihilation by Mumsnet grammar police>

Rubbish. What’s it worth to you?

While the world outside is  covered with fluffy, white & slippery stuff, indoors we’re getting ready for the spring and summer craft fairs.  It’s awesome.  While the world outside is frozen, we can just hunker down by the fire, throw on some Disney films and get busy making stuff.  (The kids are responsible for the choice of film, but I’m on board because every now and again they just randomly burst into song without realizing.) But once we have a pile of cool stuff to sell, we arrive at the crafter’s dilemma:  How much do we sell this stuff for?  We apply a number of different approaches to answer the question.

Creator’s pride: “It’s so pretty!  It’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever made.  One million pounds?.”

Logical:  “Well, if we take the cost of supplies, then break down how long it took to make it…”

Mates Rates:  “She’s our friend.  We like her.  How about one pound?”

More Logic:  “Don’t forget packaging costs, We need to buy boxes and bubble wrap.

Insecure:   “If it’s too expensive nobody will buy it –They’ll go to the pound shop instead.”

Artistic Integrity:  “We are way cooler than the pound shop.  These are like, limited editions. Fifty Pounds?”

Practical: “We just need to get it sold.  My husband’s gonna kill me if I don’t get this stuff out of his garage!”

Still insecure:  “It’s made from rubbish.  You know, the stuff people throw out because they don’t want it?”

Hungry:  “How much do nachos cost?  That’s how much we should charge. Plus an extra pound so we can buy a drink.”

This debate can rage on for hours without a conclusion in sight.  Apart from sorting out the tax returns, it’s the hardest part of our job. We just aren’t impartial.  Where a customer sees an end product, we see a whole windy afternoon spent picking up discarded ringpulls along the road, or a week spent mastering a new skill.

So, to avoid fisticuffs, we have to seek outside opinions.  This is where you come in.

We need feedback to help us decide how to price up our stock before we can sell it.  So we’re going to post photos and descriptions of our favourite upcycled items, and you get to tell us in the comments what you think they should cost.  Undiscovered masterpiece or garage sale fodder?  You decide!  And, if you’re a crafty so-and-so and have a particular system or handy tips for pricing up your stuff, we’d love to hear from you!

As you’re commenting furiously below,  we’ll putting sample items up for auction.  Although you can usually find our stuff on Etsy and DaWanda, this time we’ll be listing the items on ebay to get an idea of what the wider public thinks about them too.  All proceeds will go to the group’s “We want to eat at Nando’s fund”.  We’ll link to the auctions, so if anything takes your fancy you’ll have a chance to get your hands on it too!  So, without too much more rambling…

Item 1:  Bicycle Chain Ring Wall Clock

This clock was made by combining an 8.5 inch bicycle ring and recycled packaging materials with a new clock movement, for an end result that’s both functional and funky!  The clock runs on a single AA battery and has a hanger fitted on the back.  Because it’s made from used and upcycled materials, the finished clock may well have a few dents, scratches or imperfections–these are intended as part of the design.


chain ring clock





Item 2:  Bicycle Chain Beaded Bracelet

This lovely piece of work is made from bronze coloured acrylic bicone beads combined with salvaged bicycle chain links.  The beads are woven onto four strands of elastic for a strong and comfortable fit.

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Item 3:  Ring Pull Bracelet

These bracelets are simply woven from discarded ring pulls and ribbon, and fastened with a single button.  We always have a variety of colours in stock, but we also make to order.  Bracelets can be customized  to your chosen colour and length.

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Item 4:  Stained Glass style jar lantern

Made from a combination of paint and sweet wrapper decoupage, these jars are one of our trademark creations.  Measuring 7.5 inches tall, this size works well as a vase or a tealight holder.

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5.  Wine Bottle Hurricane Lamp / Candle cover

Made by removing the top and bottom of a wine bottle, these are a beautiful way to shelter your candles from the breeze, and make a pretty decoration for your garden table.  Each comes with a terracotta base and the bottle on the left has been etched with a rose pattern.

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6.  Wine Bottle LED lanterns

Made by inserting LED fairy lights through the base of a used glass bottle, we make these in a variety of styles. Some bottles are beautiful in their original state and some take a bit of “prettying up”.  We can personalize with initials or pictures, as well as using tie dye and tissue paper to make a creation that’s entirely unique.

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7.  Bottle Cap Keyrings

Pretty self explanatory, our favourite version is set with a 2p coin and topped with a dome of resin.

bottle top keyringAnd last (but not least) our most recent endeavor:

8.  Tile coasters

Start with some spare/salvaged tiles, add felt to the bottom and cover with something pretty:  Book pages, maps and most recently wax-resist watercolours, we sell these in sets of 4 or 6.

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The photo above is what we got up to yesterday–these coasters are going to be so cool when they’re finished!  And there you have it:  some of our favourite creations for your perusal.  Please do let us know what you think.  If you were bidding on The Price is Right or had to run our stall tomorrow–how much would you sell these things for?

*ebay auction links will be added when the items go live

Exciting Photo Ops PLUS a tiny tights tutorial!

We’re still all about bikes at the moment, and we are just so excited about the stuff we’ve made over the last couple of weeks!  (Ok, the 26 cups of coffee we drank while making it may have added somewhat to the excitement.)  In any case, here are some fancy photos courtesy of our very own photographer (and YouCanBike-erSarah Pledger, and thanks again to the guys at Outspoken for donating their old bike bits.

ring pull and bike chain bracelets

Making clocks

upcycled bike parts

Chain ring clock (I so love this photo!)

Chain ring clock (I so love this photo!)

Outside of the group, I’ve seized the opportunity for a little at-home-upcycling as well.

Question:  What do you do when your five-year-old manages to put holes in every pair of tights you buy, within an hour of putting them on?

Answer:  Turn them into funky fingerless gloves.

tights into fingerless gloves

Just cut off both legs below the hole and cut off the toes.  (of the tights. Not the child.  Just in case that wasn’t clear.)  Then cut a small hole in the heel for the thumb to poke through.  fingerless glovesNext, photograph your child wearing her new gloves.  Throw in some vintage photo effects to hide the fingerprints on your wall and Voila!  Instant Hipster.  We now have maybe 12 pairs of these gloves floating around the house, which is good.  Because after putting holes in her tights, losing gloves is my eldest’s next best talent.