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.

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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.

bottle lantern, painted bottle upcycled bottle lanterns DSCN6610_3303

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

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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.

Tutorial: DIY Cheerleader Pom Poms

OK, you may have noticed an increasing amount of cool stuff populating our shops over recent weeks.    (If not, why not? What are you waiting for, an invitation from the Queen?  Sheesh!)  But there is one special creation of ours that you won’t be able to pick up online. You can’t even buy them in person at one of our craft stalls.  Nope.  None for you.  I’m talking about these beauties:

Shabby Chic pom poms“But, why?”, you ask. “I also wish to be a sweet and funky non-conformist type cheerleader person.”    Well, it’s because this particular piece of awesomeness was an extremely limited edition, designed especially for this sewing-machine-snogging-vixen.

We’re not here to judge.

But don’t worry.  We’re not entirely heartless.  (Actually, I am, but lucky for you Jacqui isn’t.) We won’t sell you any, but we will tell you how to make them yourself and delight any small munchkins who happen to share your home.

It all happened kind of like this:  It was late summer, and in the run up to #wedstival2012, me and the guys were churning out miles of bunting like this:

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We worked around the clock, tying bunting until our hands were sore and eventually we were lashing together any random bits of fabric we encountered.  Every surface in my house was layered in piles of fabric strips, so much so that random cats were inviting themselves in to sleep on them.

bunting cat

Around that time, Sheri (our bloggy bff from Awesomesauce and Asshattery) sent us a “cheer up” package of personalized T-shirts with our logo (also by Sheri) and names (we already had those) in sparkly, bosom-enhancing print!

Behold:  The Sparkle Bosom.  (She really is going to kill me this time!)

Behold: The Sparkle Bosom.
(Jacqui really is going to kill me this time!)

I thought it was really amazing that we had happened across this Canadian expat powerhouse in Germany who was cheering us on with all the energy of a birthday party full of cake-high 4-year-olds.  I remember asking Sheri if they had cheerleaders in Germany, and being really disappointed when she said no.  In my sleep-deprived state, the idea of angry German-accented cheerleaders really tickled me.

Cheerleader:  “Und now you vill give me un ‘A’!”

Crowd:  “Yikes, ok.  A! Just stop yelling.”

And somewhere around my eleventeenth cup of coffee, my mission revealed itself:  There would be a cheerleader in Germany.  But how?  Luckily, my youngest was “helping Mummy” at the time.

silly kid

And I realized that we were already surrounded by the makings of a kick-arsch cheerleader set.  This is how we did it.

1.  Cut strips of fabric around 2 feet long. (or twice the length you want the finished pom poms to be.)  We used fabrics of different colours and textures for added sensory appeal.  Lay the strips together in a pile.

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2.  Use a thin ribbon to gather your fabric strips in the middle, and tie the ribbon in a knot.

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3.  Grab a nearby candlestick.

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4.  Make sure it is the kind that is hollow through the middle.

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5.  Thread the ribbon through the candlestick from bottom to top.

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6.  Thread the ribbon through some pretty beads, to prevent it slipping back through the candlestick.  Secure with a knot.

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7.  Submit the finished item to your quality control team for vigorous testing.

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8. Optional Wait until quality control team is sleeping before sneaking the finished product into a box and posting to Germany.

And there you have it:  a sweet surprise that will enchant budding cheerleaders everywhere.  And for extra fun, check out A Couple of Craft Addicts Scrap Skirt tutorial and make one of these to go with it:

Get Scrap Busting!  (Oh, and if  you see copies of these projects floating around Etsy in a few months time, do feel free to link to this post and taunt the vendors about their super-original ideas! Hee Hee Hee…)

Upcycled grooviness all for you…

Awesome people have been asking me where they can buy all the kick-ass stuff we make.  Well.  We do craft fairs whenever we can, but if you can’t wait that long…  We just made it easier!  If you want to get your hands on some cool creations, check out our shops where dozens of new items will be appearing over the coming weeks.  Enjoy!

Shops.

Flaming tutorials…

Hey, sports fans!  Remember the Pyrocrafting post I did in the run up to Wedstival 2012?  When we made that ginormous pile of flowers?
Well, guess what– The full tutorial is now on the Buttoneering Blog.  Check it out and get your jollies melting stuff with fire!

Tutorial: Milk jug flower lights

Egg carton flower lights

You may remember me showing off the egg carton flower lights that I made after spotting features like this one on Pinterest.  But perhaps you aren’t keen on eggs.  Or maybe you prefer flowers with a bit more variation in shape.  Either way, we’ve got you covered with these:  upcycled milk jug lights

And the best news?  If you’re a crafty so-and-so, you can make these flowers in an afternoon with some bits you probably have lying around your house.  You’ll need:

  • A clean plastic milk jug
  • Scissors
  • Pliers for gripping
  • A heat gun
  • A self-healing mat or other protective surface
  • Some LED fairy lights.

First off, use the scissors to cut out some pretty flower shapes from the milk jug.  It doesn’t matter how many petals the flower has.  The main thing to remember is that you’ll need one large flower and one smaller flower for each light.   Next, use your scissors to cut an X shape into the centre of each flower.  (This is where the light will poke through)

 

Grip the flower with your pliers, using the tips of the pliers to cover the “X”  and prevent buckling.  Use the heat gun to heat one petal at a time, until they become transparent and floppy.  The heat will help the plastic take on a natural, varied flower shape.

When the flower is transparent, quickly remove the heat.  Then you can use your fingertips to shape the petal (if you’re a hardened crafter like me) or press the petal against your self-healing mat (if you’d like to keep some sensation in your fingers) as the plastic cools and regains it’s white colour.  The petal will now hold it’s flower shape.

If you make a mistake, or aren’t happy with your flower, just reheat and adjust the shape as needed.  When you are happy with the shape of your flowers, insert each of your LED bulbs through the “X” of the larger flower and then the smaller flower. (It’s best to use LED as they give off much less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs, reducing the risk of fire and preserving the shape of your flowers) The X shape should hold the flower in place naturally, while allowing quick removal if you wish to change the look of your lights at a moment’s notice.  The finished result will look beautiful draped over a mirror or photo frame, woven through branches, or even just dangling in short strings as part of your eco-friendly party or wedding decorations.

upcycled milk jug flowers  upcycled milk jug lights

And if you like the flowers, but don’t have any fairy lights around?  Use hot glue to hold the layers together, and add a pretty button or bead to the centre. Attach your finished flower to a brooch back or  hair clip for permanent flower accessory!

upcycled flower brooch

Pyrocrafting

Ok, I really shouldn’t be stopping to post, but I was just to excited about these!  Having spotted a bazillion singed flowers on Pinterest, I knew I would have to try sooner or later.  Or, as it turns out, this morning!  These are my first attempt:

singed fabric flowers

These were so much fun, I can’t wait to do them with the group.  And it just confirms another DIY lesson for me:  Crafts get much more exciting when you involve fire.

Check out the Awesome(sauce) T-Shirts!

So if you’ve been reading a while, you may remember that a few weeks ago I nominated Sheri from Awesomesauce & Asshattery  for a Kreativ Blogger Award.  Because her blog is awesome & full of creative goodness.  (Check out the play kitchen she made for her wee one, just for a start!) But posting a Frank Sinatra clip on her page in return just wasn’t enough for Sheri.  Oh no, she had to go and ramp up the awesome-ness to an unprecedented level by designing and making us T-Shirts!  We test-drove them during yesterday’s group session to critical acclaim, and even attracted compliments from random members of the public!  So without further ado, behold the Mencsh T’s Creations:

Group members reported that the inclusion of a teapot and the reversed colouring of the shirts were works of genius.  My four-year old was delighted that there was a flower on my boobie.  And I concluded that unless I could find a way to donate several excess chins to charity, I needed to sign up to Sheri’s “Baby Weight Be Gone” Quest.  (I know, my “baby” is two.  Shut up.)   So consider me signed up, and I’ll update on my progress whenever you see this button:

Awesome Sauce and Asshattery
(I just posted my first button!  Awesome!*)  So if you see me munching on junk food, you’re authorized to yank it from my hands and slap me around the head with it, forcing me to flee and thus burn calories.  My plan is to shrink my waistline until my kick-ass new T-Shirt starts a baggy new trend.  And if you want to bag your own groovy T’s, visit Mensch T’s to check out their selection, or click their logo on our sidebar ———–>
* I know I’ve used the word “Awesome” an excessive amount in this post.  But I’m an American of a certain age, and vulnerable to these transgressions.  Be glad the post wasn’t liberally peppered with “Dudes”.

A little more repurposed balloon awesomeness…

Whew, It’s been a long week since my last post.  If you remember, last week I had succumbed to the flu and was attempting to lay low and recover my strength.  I’m still not 100%, which leads me to believe that it wasn’t actually the flu, but the much more virulent “man-flu” strain.  One of the highlights for me was getting up the strength for a hot bath.  Unfortunately, I then lacked the follow-up strength to get back out of the tub, and then lay in a wrinkly heap in the increasingly tepid water. Meanwhile a pair of toddlers took advantage of my weakened state by traipsing plastic dogs up and down my goosebumped arms and legs until I had rested enough to fend them off.

But it wasn’t all bad.  While I lay on the sofa being subjected to Sponge Bob Square Pants on repeat (because a certain 4-year-old has learned to hide the remote), I did some more balloon jewellery.  Check these out:

 

 

 

 

repurposed balloon necklace, repurposed balloon flowersballoon flower necklace, repurposed balloon necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you make your balloons more flower-like?  Just snip the closed end of the balloon down the middle, stopping when the balloon begins to narrow again.  Then thread your elastic through the circular opening of the balloons just like beads. It’s way to easy, isn’t it? It’s a great project to do with your kids, especially for a Hawaiian themed party.  (Of course, if you haven’t time, you can always buy one from our Etsy shop! We don’t mind, we’ll just make more.)

Now these make me really happy, but if you want some more repurposed balloon awesomeness, check out this post from Candoodles.  And, I’m sure lots of you have seen tutorials on how to make balloon stress balls.  But check out this post from Babble that demonstrates how to make a tactile matching game with balloons!

In addition to balloon awesomeness, there’s been all kinds of other shenanigans happening behind the scenes during our convalescence.  For example, Sheri from Awesomesauce & Asshattery has perpetrated some random acts of bodaciousness in our general direction–which shall be revealed tomorrow!  And the pretty stained-glass-ish lantern tutorial I promised?  ‘Tis forthcoming!  Way too much goodness is coming over the next few days–which means I now must go and rest to preserve my stamina.

Upcycled weekend roundup

As the weekend draws to a close, I can look out my window and see clear skies overhead for the first time in two weeks!  I feel cramped, listless, and generally in need of a brisk march in some fresh air.  But the payout for all this time spent cooped-up indoors is that I’ve managed to test out a few new upcycling techniques this weekend.

First up:  Bottle tops.  If you read my previous post, you’ll know I have several thousand plastic bottle tops filling bin bags in my shed.  (Don’t mention it to my other half–he hasn’t noticed yet!) We haven’t yet found a charity that wants them in exchange for wheelchairs or money, but we are working on a couple of leads.  In the meantime, we’ll be working to upcycle some of the non-milk lids and sharing ideas for ways you can upcycle yours.  The first (and probably easiest) project is a great one for kids on a rainy day.  Inspired by pinterest posts from Mama Jenn and Vanessa’s Values we set out to make bottle top stamps.  

These are easy.  Clean your bottle tops, and attach self-adhesive foam shapes in a variety of patterns.  Then whip out your ink pad and start stamping.  Between making the stamps and using them, the kids were occupied for a couple of hours.  The stamps were cheap to make and we had plenty to go around so that the kids didn’t feel the need to argue over them.  Great activity, and I plan to bring a bag of them along to our next exhibition as favours for the kids who visit our stall.

While the kids were playing with these, I tackled my next project.  I’ve already covered a few upcycling tricks with T-shirts and now I had a couple of wool sweaters in need of an update.  Through many many years of use, they had become worn, misshapen, and yet still  almost unbearably itchy.  After lots of research, I came upon this tutorial from Country Living, as well as this one from The Inadvertent Farmer.  (I love her work!)  Following their amazing instructions, I came up with these:

In hindsight, I think the corners on the brown bag are a little pointy for my liking.  The purple bag needs a good run-over with the bobble shaver.  But overall, I think they’re pretty good for an hour’s work (maybe two) and they’ll be handy for dragging around the mountains of upcycled material I accumulate!  While felting the jumpers, an incredible amount of wool came loose from them, so I also got to try making felted dryer balls.  Because they’re soft, they make great indoor toys but they can also be used in the tumble dryer to bounce around and soften fabric.  I still have a couple of felted sweater sleeves to use up, so I’m thinking of making some slippers towards the end of the week

In the meantime, the Cambridge group is hoping for a break from the rain so we can finish work on the PET bottle flowers we’ve started.  Hope your week is sunny, and if not sunny then at least productive!