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.

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Place the moulds in the sunshine and check periodically.

Beginning:

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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!

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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!

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.

A quickie for halloween

Living in a rural, agricultural area has some distinct advantages.  Tractors drop kids off to school,  a “traffic jam” often consists of a bunch of ducks in the road, and fresh produce is abundant at harvest time.  In fact, at this time of year, the sheer amount of fruit and veg running around the place is daunting.  Pumpkins, potatoes, onions and sugar beets bounce off overloaded trucks at every sharp corner or bump in the road, and my husband and kids return from walking the dog with a selection of vegetables they’ve had to dodge along the way. (Way more exciting than dodgeball, by the way.  I highly recommend Fenland vegetable dodging.)

In addition to the farm produce, every third neighbor has an allotment or vegetable garden and is perennially astounded at the yield of oversize courgettes and pumpkins.  You can’t visit a neighbor for any reason without them pressing their surplus gourds on you with a slight air of desperation, as their kitchen surfaces are obscured by piles of marrows the length of your arm.  And since waste is very uncool in this area, you’re forced to hit the internet in search of 165 new ways to disguise squash so that your children will consider eating it at every meal for the next two months.  (If you’re struggling with your own overload of pumpkins and marrows, visit my fellow mumsnet bloggers umisushimakes and hertfordshiremummy for some ideas!)

The result?  By Halloween, I am thoroughly pumpkined-out.  The idea of carving up one of the buggers for fun, just so it can glare at me malevolent from the windowsill while the kids crunch on its seeds and I attempt to make soup from its innards… it doesn’t appeal.

Just look at that smug little face…

So this year I’ve opted for less vegetable-based decorations for Halloween. They’re upcycled and re-useable but still sticky enough for the kids to enjoy making them.

What you need:

  • Old Christmas baubles or light bulbs
  • Tissue Paper (black and orange, ideally)
  • Glue (Mod Podge for the win)
  • Some string.

Method: 

  1. Snip your orange tissue paper into small 1-2cm squares and glue them to the bauble, overlapping until you cover the entire surface.
  2. When the bauble is covered in orange, brush a layer of glue over the entire surface to smooth down any bumps or rough edges.  Allow to dry.
  3. Cut small shapes from black tissue paper for the face and glue them to the bauble.  When the face is in place, brush with another coat of glue to seal.

Then once they’re dry, just string them up and enjoy.

Feeling extra creative?  Try using other colours to make monster faces.  Or maybe some blue and white tissue to make:

…some nice googly eyeballs.  Actually, I like these so much that I plan to use them to give my Christmas tree a funny face too.  And after that, I may just hang them somewhere random in the house too.  Like the bathroom cabinet.  That way visitors will look up and discover a pair of eyes peeking out at them while they pee.  That will teach them to ambush me with their vegetables!

A Scrappy Weekend

Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

During the preparations for Wedstival 2012,I posted this random photo of a DIY scrap lampshade, and promised a tutorial to follow.  Well, I’m just now getting caught up on my blogging backlog, so here goes!  The plan was to create … Continue reading

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

Creatures & Features!

Oooh, it’s been an exciting week!  Not just because of the closing Olympic extravaganza. And not just because I watched a 200 pound German Shepherd hurdle through my 8 foot fence in a desperate smash-and-grab attempt on foster dog’s squeaky toy.

For us, it’s been a big week because our Fairy Godmother in Berlin* has been waving around some magic pixie dust on our behalf and gotten us features!

If you check out our newest piece of flair over here ————————-> We’re wearing a “Roadkill Rescue” badge!  That’s right, baby!  Our Sweet Wrapper Lanterns  are sitting pretty on the front page over at Roadkill Rescue.  (Amongst a whole legion of other  kick-ass ideas which are well worth a visit!)

And if that wasn’t enough, It’s also sitting in the Craft section over atLove All Blogs. (Which, incidentally, seems to be just the app I need to keep all of my blog reading in order!)  These features make one thing clear:  Sheri from Awesomesauce & Asshattery has a lot to teach us about exposing ourselves to the wider public! 😉

In other news this week, we’ve been going nuts with wine bottle lanterns, including these creepy creatures:

Imagine those guys peeking out from your wine rack this Halloween!  Here are a couple of action shots from the group this week:

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We’ll update with more photos when the lanterns are finished.  In the meantime, I’ve been road-testing a new online sales venue!  So if you fancy getting your mitts on some fancy bits like the ones I made for Wedstival 2012, come visit the shop on DaWanda, where more items are listed each day.  And stay tuned for our upcoming upcycling tutorials of wonder!

 

 

More Scrapbusting (with style!)

This week will be a continued effort to chip away at the massive amount of scraps that the group has built up while working on the wedding.  If you’re anything like us, you may have a few bits of your favourite fabric lurking in the cupboard too.  We’ve found a few great ways to put them to good use!  Here are a couple of bits that we’re working on and several ideas we haven’t even started yet!

1.  Think Christmas.  (I know it’s August, but that’s one holiday with a nasty habit of sneaking up on us!  Luckily, Zakka Life offer this fab, kid-friendly tutorial for turning your scrap stash into holiday cheer!

2.  More wreaths. Whether its for Christmas or just a pretty decoration with some of your favourite fabrics, scraps can become beautiful wreaths.  You can even use the same technique linked above!    Handy tip:  Follow Rod’s example and use some leftover pipe insulation as a wreath form.  With some creativity (and electrical tape) you can create lovely shapes like his signature love heart.    Rod would also like you to know that his wreath (above, left) will be available in the group’s Etsy Shop later today.

3.  What, you still have more scraps?  Don’t Panic!  Over at The Cart Before the Horse, we found this amazing idea for a fabric scrap mosaic, created by Jo James.  I can’t wait to try one of these.


4.  And finally, if you still haven’t managed to bust your way through your scrap stash… Then it’s time to pull out the big guns.  Uber genius Suzanne Zing at Notes from the Patch posted this amazing tutorial on how to create this gorgeous shag rag rug:  DSC_2315dIt’s so fluffy, I just want to give it a hug!  So that’s what I’m going to be starting on, just as soon as i can get my hands on some plastic fencing.  Boy, and I thought my fingers were tired after tying the bunting!

5.  Scrap busting doesn’t just apply to fabric, either!  Remember these?

(I know, how can you forget when I keep showing them to you?) Anyway, you didn’t think we threw away the bowl part of the wine glass, did you?  Not when we could make these:

Now those are some serious glasses, for some serious wine!  And that lonely saucer in lurking in the cupboard?  Say hello to your new display piece!

saucer candleholderPhew!  After all that scrap-busting I have only one problem:  I need more scraps!

 

Wedstival 2012 Photos!

I know, we’ve been teasing you with previews of the wedding for ages.  And now its finally time for some of the photos from Wedstival 2012 to emerge!  The ones with the bride and groom are going to have to wait until they come back from honeymoon, but in the meantime we can walk you through the setup and shamelessly boast about all the prettiful things we made. What we love about this whole celebration and all the decorations is that it’s handmade, eco-friendly, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.  The cost was more in terms of time and effort than money, so it’s an effect that anybody could achieve.

For starters, here’s the view as you walk up the drive towards the Pavillion:

Check out all that lovely bunting, courtesy of our very own nimble fingers!  As you reach  the top of the drive, you begin to encounter some funky signs put together by the bride and groom:And some helpful instructions about what you should be doing:

And then you might go inside to check out the Pavillion.  And wow.  The first thing to discover inside is the amazing catering display. I’m not sure which was more incredible–the smell of all the amazing tea and cakes or their collection of vintage teacups!

We had a few tables set up inside, complete with the group’s handmade chair garlands and table flowers.

upcycled fabric flowers

Each of the flowers was upcycled from the same scrap fabric as the bunting and garlands, then attached to a brooch back or hair clip so they could be worn away as favours–beautiful and eco-chic!   The Pavillion was also the place where guests could place their cards and presents.

But one of my favourite views from inside the Pavillion, was actually the ceremony spot where the bride and groom would look out over their assembled guests:

I love the picnic blanket seating for the ceremony, and the “altar” made from apple crates that were borrowed from the awesome Ruth of the YouCanBike  project fame.  Exiting the Pavillion, one of the most noticeable attractions was Andy’s beautiful vintage photo booth. 

It would have been churlish not to have a go! On the beautifully papered walls, you can spot a selection of frames that were sourced and revamped by the fine folk at the Wednesday group.  And next there was a Polaroid “guest book” table where visitors could take photos of themselves with all the available props and pin them up with their advice and wishes for the bride and groom.There was a great under-cover chillout space next door where you could lounge underneath the fabulous bike-tire chandelier, and even more miles of bunting!

From there, you could watch the other partygoers try out some fun carnival games.

Or sit down to watch the ceremony with a lovely cup of tea.

And here are some of my favourite views and details from the day:

The Ceremony Spot

Andy’s funky leg planters

The garden party in the sunshine

guitar pick buttonhole, plectrum flower

The guitar-pick flowers we made for the groomsmen to wear, and

The miles and miles of upcycled bunting!

If you’re planning a celebration of your own and like any of the decorations or ideas you see here, there’s good news!  Follow @buttoneering on Twitter or Pinterest for news about the launch of a spanking new wedding/events service with workshops, tutorials,  prop hire, and custom-made swag for a party that reflects your own personal style.  Keep watching–this is going to be good!