Upcycled Wedding Progress!

OK, so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind the last few weeks.  We had the Jubilee.  We had parties. There was Euro2012 and the Ravelympics drama.  And the Olympic torch passed through.  But don’t start thinking we’ve been distracted by all the excitement.  Oh no, our little fingers have been busy getting ready for Wedstival 2012– our very first upcycled wedding!  So here comes the photo recap of what we’ve been up to:

We went out in search of materials to upcycle into wedding decorations.  At Emmaus we found some inspiration right away in the form of a giant Audrey Hepburn portrait.  Her flawless beauty and classic, graceful style helped the team decide exactly what they were looking for:

“Breakfast at Emmaus”.  But after that, it was all serious business.

No, really, it was tough work.  Our main objective was to find unusable fabric that we could upcycle.   Torn curtains, bedding full of holes, and stained tablecloths were our mission. (Just the kind of stuff every bride wants at her wedding!)  It couldn’t be just any old rags–we had to find rubbish fabric that would match the wedding’s colour palette.  Actually, the pressure was so intense, that

we were knackered and had to break for lunch.  Outside.  In the grounds of a beautiful cathedral.  With puppies.  It’s just as well we rested, because we had to carry back heaps of supplies to make lots of cool stuff, like:

Singed fabric flowers.  (Hooray, more pyrocrafting!) We also need to make lots of

chair garlands and bunting.  Sure, it looks easy enough.  But remember, we’re making loads and loads of them!

Mass production means spending a lot of time doing repetitive tasks and making piles of stuff like this:

So, how do we cope with the long days full of repetitive work?  Well, we chat a lot and exchange our news and stories.  We work as a team and set up assembly lines with everybody contributing what they do best.  We make jokes and have many, many cups of tea and coffee.  And last week we had some help from these guys: 

Ahh, Goonies.  I know, I know, it’s a tough life.  And tomorrow is going to be even tougher.  Because while we work our way through around 80 metres of bunting, we have to decide between Pirates of the Caribbean and Night at the Museum.  Sigh!  The Pressure…


Women’s Social Leadership Awards 2012

With all the talk about awesomeness around here recently, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what’s happening tomorrow.  You see, at hub Westminster Central London, the 6th Annual Ogunte Women’s Social Leadership Awards will take place.  If you aren’t familiar with them, Ogunte is a Social Innovations Development Company that focuses on social ventures led by Women.  Each year, they host these awards to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women both in the UK and abroad whose leadership and innovation have made a positive social impact. In other words, these women are heavy hitters who take awesomeness to a whole other level!

There are 9 finalists in three areas:  Leader in the Workplace, Social Business Leader, and Campaign Leader.  In addition to the awards, there will be a number of inspiring speakers, including Melanie Stubbing of Weight Watchers Europe, Diane Verde Nieto of Positive Luxury.com, and Laura Haynes of Appetite, UN Women, UK National Committee and Design Business Association (DBA).  Phew!

But, why am I all fired up about this? (Apart from the fact that these are all just generally cool people doing great things?)  Because…   I get to go there!

It just goes to show, that when you associate with groups like The You Can Hub, cool things tend to happen to you.  And as a result is I’ll be travelling down to London with YouCan’s own Lou Shackelton to cover the event on Twitter, while Mel Findlater provides remote social media support.

So,  I get to:

  • a) work with the YouCan guys,
  • b)meet amazing, inspiring women, and
  • c) tweet the whole time without being considered rude.

If we could throw in an upcycled bike tire somewhere, I’d be in Nirvana.  (The state of profound peace, as opposed to the grunge band. Which would cool in a very different way.)

The only drawback to the event is that standing alongside such accomplished and talented people gives you an amplified opportunity for… appearing a doofus by comparison.  While I’m covering the proceedings and using all the right twitter handles and hashtags, a special part of my brain will focus on not falling down, spilling stuff or breaking things.  If you know me in real life, you know what a challenge that is!  Gravity, it would seem, has a rather special interest in me.

I urge you to take a look at Ogunte’s website and Scoopit to find out more about how they support and recognize socially innovative women.   Also, check out You Can’s Pinboard of all the WSLA Finalists.  I’ve been really inspired reading about  their accomplishments and wish them all a safe journey and good luck for tomorrow night.  Provided I escape any embarrassing catastrophes, you can watch events unfold by following @ogunte and #wsla12 on twitter.  With any luck, the people I meet will perceive me as a talented tweeter–instead of a twit!



An Awesomesauce Project Update

Well kids, if you’ve been keeping up with our recent activities, you’ll know that last week we got an awesome parcel from Sheri of Awesomesauce&Asshattery and Mensch T’s fame.  It was a lovely and thoughtful gift for the members of Re-Creations Wednesday Group in Cambridge.  And I was all

and then so was she, and then the whole love-fest carried on over in the Regretsy forum where warm fuzzies were shared and it was generally agreed that the situation was awesome and that we were all kick-ass individuals of the highest caliber.  And then…

Yesterday I got to deliver the bags to the group.  And boy were they thrilled!  There were no tears (at least not initially), they checked out the bags and loved that they had their names on them.  But what really got them was the notes Sheri included with each bag, commenting on the work in their gallery!  I noticed a couple of people with itchy eyes at that point–the pollen count must have been really high…  And then, since no good deed goes unpunished, we got straight to work on a couple of cool bits of swag to send over to Sheri in Berlin.  Here’s a gratuitously smiley photo:

If you look closely, you can see I’m holding a super-duper specially made Awesomesauce Jar Lantern, that’s going to be wandering over to Sheri as soon as I break open my piggy bank for postage!  (But I’m not telling what else we made for her because we want it to be a surprise!)

And if that wasn’t enough coolness for one day, Luci over at Idle Hands Yarn wrote this feature about us on Love 2 Upcycle–The Etsy Upcycling Team Blog.  As a result, lots of cool people have stopped by to visit our little corner of Etsy, and lots have stayed for a cup of tea and a chat!

While all of this has been going on, the team has been incredibly busy.  We had to finish off our bottle top door mat, which turned out pretty cool. (It also feels amazing when you stand on it in socks!)

And the rest of the time, we’ve been getting ready for: (drumroll, please) a wedding.  Not for any of our team–that ship has long since sailed for Jacqui and I.*  But a near and dear friend of the group has asked us to do upcycled wedding decorations for her very special day, and we are soooooooo excited!  This might just be the most fun we’ve had yet!  So if posts are running a bit thin over the next few weeks, don’t worry.  It won’t be because we’re slacking off and putting our feet up over the summer– we’ll be out there somewhere in Cambridgeshire, working all of our fingers to the bone!

*however, if Robert Downey Jr. should become available, we would take the situation into consideration.**

** You don’t necessarily need to mention this to our respective spouses.

Sweet wrapper coasters

As we bring this long, lovely jubilee celebration to a close, I’d like to share another of the Quality Street upcycling projects I’ve been working on. You may remember the lantern from my previous Quality Street Tutorial.Upcycled lantern and coaster

The coaster is a new project for us! The Queen’s Jubilee inspired the pattern, and the function was inspired by my children’s tendency to leave sticky cups everywhere.  They’re simple to make, eye-catching, and last for ages. (as well as giving you perfectly legitimate excuse for eating chocolate!)  So here are the basic steps:

1.  Cut your coaster shape out of cardboard packaging material (cereal box, etc).  You can also buy pre-cut blank beer mats if you can’t get your hands on enough cardboard.

2.  Flatten the foil inserts of your Quality Street wrappers by smoothing them gently against a flat surface. 

(Jacqui is the chief-supremo-wizard-master of smoothing things.  I don’t know how she does it, but the wrappers end up flatter than when they were new!)

3.  Cut shapes from your flattened wrappers to make the pattern for your coaster.

4.  Brush your cardboard with Mod Podge (or other decoupage medium) and carefully apply your wrappers.

5.  Add 2 or more layers of Mod Podge to seal

6.  Trace your coaster’s shape onto a piece of felt.  Cut out the felt and hot glue it to the bottom of the coaster

7.  (optional) for a more durable finish, cover the surface with a clear, sticky plastic like the sort you would use to cover books.  And that’s it. A nice, shiny place to rest your beverage!

Upcycled Coasters, recycled coasters

Upcycling Parties & Workshops

Seeing as we’re in party mode (in the UK at least) we’ve added to our Custom Workshops and Parties Page to include even more fun and games for all ages and abilities!  If you’re located in the East of England and fancy a more eco-friendly birthday for your kids or a crafty get-together with mates, check us out! Here’s a printable flyer you can pass on to your mates.  Ok, now you can get back to watching The Apprentice final and celebrating the Jubilee!