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!

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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.

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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!)

Spoons!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

A quick word from one of our group members

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13/03/13

Hello, my name today is “Tom Riddle”. I like to tell you what we’ve been doing today in our Team. Making bracelets from ring pulls, and clocks from bike stuff and cd’s. We will sell them at a craft fair to get money. When we have enough money, we will go to Nandos. (They have chicken.)

Sick of junk mail? You can upcycle that too!

Well we’ve been quiet on the blog front recently, our fingers have been busy, busy, busy!  In our ongoing search for upcycling partners, we decided to tempt them in by offering some amazing upcycled receptacles that they can use to round-up their rubbish.  We followed this tutorial from Craftstylish for making paper reeds and came up with these:

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Obligatory close-ups:

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Paper reed box 2

paper reed box 3Paper reed frame

Do you know the best part?  Not only are they gorgeous, but we got rid of a whole stack of leaflets and catalogs in making these.  Want one?  Live in Cambridgeshire?  Head over to our “Supporting Us” page and find out how to become one of our recycling partners, and one of these awesome creations can come live with you and eat up all your ring pulls and sweet wrappers.

We’ve also had bikes on the brain a bit lately.  We’re getting ready for Bike Week in June, so we’ve been trading ideas for more bike-based upcycling.  Lucky for us, these guys at Outspoken helped out with a lot of spare parts for inspiration!  (Imagine it:  a bunch of exceptionally fit cycle couriers who have extra gears for upcycling.  In the repurposing world, that’s like double Christmas with added tinsel.)

So with bikes on the brain, our paper reeds took on some new shapes:

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And finally we combined some old maps, and chain rings to come up with this little beauty:

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I sense a lot more of these clocks coming up before bike week!  (Sadly, the coasters may not make it up for sale.  My three year old has declared them “hers” and is now rolling them across the floor…) So what about you–any ideas for scrapping your junk mail or revamping your old bike parts?  Let us know what you think.

 

Tie Dye Tissue Paper Tutorial

OK, as promised, (about two weeks ago!) here is your quick and easy Tie-dye tissue paper tutorial. It’s kid friendly, and makes a really pretty end product.

First question:  Why would you want to do that?

Well, it actually started as an accident.  As I was transporting supplies to the group one Wednesday, there was… an incident.  With my fizzy water.  It spilled into the supply box and things got a little sticky.  But, we later found that the moisture had caused our tissue papers (which we use to make jar lanterns) to bleed colour onto each other.  They looked amazing!  Later, I tried to reproduce the same effect at home–and ended up with a pile of soggy paper.  Which brings me to:

Second question:  How do you do that?

At this point, I did what any crafter does in their uncertainty:  I went to Pinterest.  From there, I found cool links like this one from Honest to Nod.  She and her kids did an awesome Tie Dye upcycle with their leftover packaging tissue.  The tutorial has great illustrations on how to fold the paper too.

Third question:  What does this have to do with upcycling?

Ahh.  Well.  The tutorial above used food colouring and liquid watercolours to dye the paper.  But then I had a handy flashback to my student days in the dorm and remembered what we used to make tie dyes then:  dried up old felt tip pens! (This is awesome for us, given that my kids are terminally unable to remember putting the lids back on their markers.)   Pair those old pens up with some used gift wrapping tissue and you’re set to make something pretty from a pile of old rubbish.

What you need

  • dried up marker pens
  • tissue paper
  • water

Step 1:  Fold up your tissue paper

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Honest to Nod gives instructions on how to fold into a neat triangle, but other shapes are just as good.

2.  Pull the centre out of your markers

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I used pliers to pull off the end of the marker.  Then pulled out the dye-soaked wadding in the middle and the tip of the marker.  Put those in a bit of water to soak.

3.  Dunk your tissue

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Soak the corners of your folded tissue paper in the coloured water.  You can use different colours on different corners for a fun effect.

4.  Try to avoid this:

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If you allow the dye to touch your hands, they’ll be coloured for days. (However, your kids may think it makes you look pretty).

5.  Put the dyed paper aside to dry.

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Optional: Drink copious amounts of coffee while you wait.  Also cake.

6.  Unfold

When the paper is dry, unfold it carefully and behold the glorious patterns you have made: tie dye tissue paper DSCN6448_3141

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You can put them aside for funky gift wrapping, Or <drumroll>

Visit  this tutorial on buttoneering.com to learn how to turn your tie dyed tissue paper into awesome jar and bottle lanterns like these:

Tie-Dye tissue paper lanterns

Extreme close up:

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So grab your kid’s old markers and go for it!  And while you’re at it, don’t forget:  6 days left in our Annual Christmas Crap competition, and our current total is a whopping 132 Quality Street wrappers in one envelope!  Keep that rubbish coming in!

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.

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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…)

A fulfilling photo round-up

I know, I know.  No blog posts in how long?  Did we fall off the face of the earth (unlikely) or become mired in the Fenland Fog (quite likely) or take a break from upcycling over Christmas? (As if!)

Actually, we’ve been working our little fingers to the bone and attempting to tackle a couple of thorny issues in the process.

  1.  We need more people to join the group.
  2. We need more local businesses and organizations to become our “partners in rubbish”
  3. We need to re-stock after Christmas and revamp our online venues.
  4. Whose turn is it to wash up the cups?

While we’re in the process of working these things out, here are some photos of the exciting bits we’ve been working on:

There were a handful of these:

bike marble ornament (3)

And there were tons of these:

bike star ornament

And there were quite a few of these:

bicycle bottle lamp

There were about half a dozen of these:

Re-Creations teacup candle

And we’re just getting the hang of these

Re-Creations bottle candle cover

And starting to work on these:

upcycled spoon necklace

On the other hand, there were also some of these…

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But it’s probably best not to say too much about those.

So, in short, we’re still here and still upcycling.  Next post will feature some ideas for what to do when your kids leave the caps off all their marker pens.  How long the next post will take, more or less depends on how long the kids remain absorbed in their current game called “Flying Naked Barbie”.  But I’ll tweet when it’s coming so you can assume the prime, edge-of-your-seat position.

And Don’t forget our Competition!  Send us your rubbish  or tell us how you upcycle your Christmas packaging and you can win some upcycled goodness of your very own!  Mumsnetters have been on the ball, and our current winner sent in a whopping 132 sweet wrappers!  But there’s still plenty of time, so get posting…

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.