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


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!


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!

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…

Lightning Round–Quick Update

Phew!  So much has been and is going on around here, that I’m way past due for a decent post.  However, so much is still going on that a decent post just isn’t going to happen tonight.  Instead, you get my super-brief news bulletin–Here’s what’s been happening:

  • The Women’s Social Leadership Awards that I posted (nervously) about were fantastically inspiring and motivating.  I did not fall over or spill anything.
  • The group has been working at fever pitch on wedding decorations for Wedstival 2012.  Apparently most of us have a frustrated wedding planner buried deep down  that has been itching for an excuse to spring out!
  • Parties, Baby!  Jacqui and I have been out and about doing a kids upcycling party, and having way too much fun in the process.  Check out our Parties page and we’ll be adding photos so you can see what the heck we’re talking about!
  • A great many pretty things have been made!  I don’t have time for the full tutorials,  at the moment because it’s very very late.  But here are a few that I’ve managed to photo thus far:

upcycled plastic hair clip, plastic bottle hair clip, plastic bottle flower

Upcycled paper necklace

I suppose you noticed that I used the big pictures to distract you from the overall shortness of the post…  But sadly, it’s two minutes to midnight and if anybody feeds me I’ll turn back into a pumpkin.

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”.

Bonus! DIY Fringed T-shirt scarf tutorial

Since I posted the T-shirt reconstruction overview this morning, a Pinterest follower requested more specific instructions for one of the revamps.  The original tutorial I followed has disappeared, (and I’m so gosh-darn pleased that somebody’s interested) I thought I’d whip one up for you.  So here goes:


The Circular Scarf  and Fringed Scarf are pretty much the same thing, so this will show you how to do both of them.  You will need a t-shirt, scissors, and optional beads.  First, flatten your T-shirt:

Cut it horizontally from arm to arm.

If you’re making a circular scarf, congratulations–you’re finished!  Just give the resulting tube a good stretch to make the edges curl, stick it ’round your neck and you’re good to go.  (Make sure you keep the arm/chest portions for later projects)

If you want a fringed scarf, then you next need to fold your tube of fabric in half lengthwise, (so that the two open ends meet.)  Make a sharp crease along the fold, or mark it with chalk so you can see where the half-way point is.  Then lay your tube flat again.  Next, make a cut from the edge of the tube up to the half-way point like this:

(sorry for the blurry photo!)  Make identical cuts around the circumference of the tube, about 1 inch apart.  Now you have a fringe!  Now, at this point you may find that you have a bit too much fringe, so that it lacks definition.  If you would like to thin them out, you have a couple of options.

You can remove alternating strands to create a more defined fringe.  I try to cut the strands off in a ^ shape so the remaining strands join together smoothly.  (Make sure to keep the strands you cut off!  Check out the previous post for a hair scrunchie to match your scarf.) Give the remaining strands a tug, to help the ends curl up.

If you prefer a chunkier fringe, consider braiding the strands together.

In either case, you can knot the end or add a pony bead to add weight and help the fringe hang down nicely.  I would have chosen something rustic and wooden for mine, but my daughter had star-shaped glitter beads (and a penetrating voice) so I stuck them on.   Wrap the finished scarf around your neck once or twice and that’s it.

So there you go–a finished scarf in 10-15 minutes. (depending on how much “help” any nearby toddlers wish to offer) On Earth Day, you get two posts for the price of one!

T-shirt Reconstructions–You Can change up your wardrobe!

So, remember these guys from our day out at Milton Country Park?

Just look at 'em! Standing there all empowered, and whatnot!

Last Thursday, the You Can Hub hosted a clothes-swap evening (my trendier colleague calls it “swishing”) to raise money for the You Can Bike Too project.  I braved the elements and went along to show the guys what you can do with your T-shirts if they’re past their use-by date.  Since  it was a clothing-based evening, I decided to save rug-making and all the other t-shirt yarn applications for another time and focus on stuff you can wear.  Even then, there are more options available than I have shirts to work with!

So everybody swapped clothes and ate cake,  I did some “Gok Wan” style snipping, and by the end of the evening, our hosts looked something like this:

They’re good sports, aren’t they? They managed to raise a fair chunk of change for You Can Bike Too, and had fun in the process.   But if you didn’t get to come and eat cake with us, here’s an overview of no-sew, DIY  T-shirt hacks just for you!

First you’ve got basic alterations for T-shirts that just don’t fit as well as you would like.  Neck too tight?  There’s a fix for that, and you don’t even need to whip out your sewing machine! Kira, over at hernewleaf wrote a great (and funny) tutorial on how to create a braided neckline like this one.

You can apply the same technique to a shirt that’s too big, to create a more flattering as you can see, we've followed Kira's instructions to make sure the shirt is wrinkled! :)fit–really useful if you’ve lost weight or “adopted” a shirt from a brother, dad, or partner.  Here’s one that I made earlier->  (As you can see, we followed Kira’s instructions to use a wrinkly shirt.  I’m nothing if not thorough!) I love the way this one turned out, and it’s held up fine in the wash too.  Chictopia featured a similar tutorial on how to braid your T-shirt’s sleeves, which we also followed for this photo.

But what if your T-shirt just too knackered to keep intact?  Coffee and permanent pen stains on the front, rips, holes, superglue… Maybe you have a supply of T-shirts from a past employer (or a current employer after re-branding).  There’s no need to throw it out, or chuck it on to your ever-growing “car wash pile”.

You can cut off the top part of the shirt (from the sleeves up) to make an easy circular scarf.

If you want to get fancy, you can fringe it like this one: (Don’t laugh, the star pony beads were my daughter’s addition!)

Or you can cut that single tube of fabric into 1 inch strips to make many smaller circles.  Layer them like this for an infinity scarf:

Or coil each of the circles and tie them together:

And after you’ve finished making scarves, you still have the sleeve and chest part of the T-shirt to work with.  Personally, I like slicing those parts into as many strips as I can, and tying them on to a hair band, or a single T-shirt circle like this:

Generation T and DIY Inspired have been thinking along the same lines with their Recycled T-shirt Scrap skirts for kids.  Guess what my next project will be!  If you’re interested in some more tutorials (because there are dozens!) check out my T-shirt Recon board on Pinterest and visit some of the links there.  Have fun!  Oh, and Happy Earth Day!