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:

DSCN6930_3619

Obligatory close-ups:

paper reed box 1

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:

DSCN6976_3665

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

bike chain ring clock

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.

 

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:

2

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.

DSCN5567_1509

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

DSCN5568_1510

3.  Grab a nearby candlestick.

DSCN5569_1511

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

DSCN5570_1512

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

DSCN5572_1514

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

DSCN5576_1518

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

DSCN5574_1516

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…

DSCN6166_2497  DSCN6162_2493

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…

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:

:


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!

 

 

Wedstival 2012 Teaser…

I know, I know.  Wedstival 2012 wound up almost 36 hours ago and we haven’t posted yet.  Did it rain, did we have enough bunting?  Were there really man-eating chickens?

We promised there would be photos.  And there will be, we promise.  At the moment we’re just sorting through the hundreds of fantastic shots to bring you the best of the best from that splendiferous day.  And there will be tutorials, top tips and the trials and tribulations of handmade weddings to come.  But right now we’re a little tired.  So to keep you occupied while you wait, here are some shots of the Wedstival setup from the fantastic Nick Dennis, whose website you can see here

(In addition to helping us hang several miles of bunting, Nick joined the gang of self-proclaimed “burly men”* who erected the marquee and graciously allowed us to share his photos and link to his page despite the fact that we spent all of Friday calling him by the wrong name and quizzing him about his choice in footwear.  Thanks Nick!)

Upcycled fabric buntingThat’s our bunting decorating the gate, along with a sign made by the bride and groom themselves!

upcycled teapot, teapot flowerpotThat’s one of the teapots that we scoured the county to find.

scrap chair garlandOne of the chair garlands our group made, wafting nicely in the breeze…

upcycled photoboothThe famous (infamous) photo booth, where you may spot a few items from my previous posts–the tin sign, the bike tire mirror, and several frames revamped by our group members!

Nick pauses to check, “Does my lens look big in this?”

One of my favourite images, of the props next to the photobooth.

upcycled tea cupsThe bride and groom’s glasses for the toast.  I already loved these, but I loved them even more after we showed them to a pair of 7-year-old girls who were helping us set up.  Their response:  “But, will the bride and groom have jam with their toast?”. Awesome.

You’ll have to wait for more photos until we’ve selected the best ones (and carefully edited out any that show me in an unflattering light) but to answer the burning questions:

Did they like the decorations?  In the bride’s words, they were “Amazing.  Like, rock star awesome.”  And obviously we wouldn’t dream of arguing with the bride on her special day.

Were there really man-eating chickens?  Well, there were definitely chickens.  And several guests were, in fact, missing from the morning-after clean up session.  So I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Do Re-Creations do weddings? In light of the evidence, I would have to say yes.  Yes, indeed we do!

*The self-proclaimed “burly men” did appear to be as advertised–a strapping bunch of guys!

Tutorial: jars and candy wrappers into lanterns!

Well, after a long wait, the hour is finally here–it’s tutorial time!  A couple of weeks ago I posted these photos as a sneak preview to this post:

jar candle holder, upcycled candle holder upcycled flower lantern, upcycled candle holder, jar candle holder, flower candle holder

There were lots of great guesses, but nobody managed to guess how we had done it.  So here you go, time for the big reveal:

They’re made with sweet wrappers! (Or candy wrappers in the US).  For us that usually means Quality Street Wrappers.*  We’ve worked with lots of different sweet packaging over the past year, and have found that Quality Street wrappers make the most versatile crafting material.  In fact, you can look forward to several more tutorials for Quality Street crafts over the coming weeks!  If you can’t get your hands on Quality Street where you live, you could try Brach’s wrapped candy which also has a translucent wrapper.

Now, for the how too: In addition to sweet wrappers, you’ll need a glass jar, clear-drying adhesive, scissors, stickers or masking tape, and spray paint.

Start by removing the label from the jar.  If hot soapy water doesn’t remove the sticky residue, you can try using a scrubber (like this one upcycled from fruit nets) and as a last resort I find that Avon Skin So Soft** can help to get rid of the gunk.

Mark out the area for your “stained glass” by covering with adhesive.  For these examples, I’ve used masking tape and stickers. (If using stickers, cut out the sticker’s surround and stick it to your wrapper.  This way, you can avoid having to trace the shapes in the wrapper later.)

If you have little ones, they really like to help with the sticking part.

When you’re all stickered-up, get ready to spray paint. (Remember to use a well-ventilated area, put down a drop cloth so your husband won’t get cross, and keep small kids well back.  Use gloves and goggles where necessary, and keep your camera far out of the way to avoid paint spray.)

Give them a good spray with the colour / colours of your choice, and let them dry.

Peel the stickers off of the jar.  (Kids like to help with this part too!) If you have used masking tape, I find it helpful to stick the used tape onto the sweet wrappers and cut around it.  This helps ensure your coloured shapes will be the perfect size.

Paint your adhesive onto the clear glass spaces.  You can use any clear-drying craft glue, but I my favourite is Mod Podge***.

Wet  your cut shape briefly.  This will relax the plastic and allow any wrinkles to fall out, as well as eliminating excess colour bleeding.  (When I did the flower jar at the beginning of this post, I hadn’t worked this out yet–so that jar has a much more crinkly finish!)  Dry it gently on a towel or some kitchen roll, and apply it to an un-painted space on the jar.  Smooth out the bubbles.

When the adhesive is dry, apply another coat on top of the coloured shapes to act as a sealant.
upcycled candy wrapper jars, upcycled wrapper candle holder, repurposed jar lanternThat’s pretty much it!  if the edges of your shapes are less than perfect, you can outline with 3D paint (we used Dylon) to hide any imperfections.  You can also coat with one or more coats of spray sealant or clear varnish to prevent scratches to the paint.  Here are your close-ups:

upcycled candy wrapper jars, upcycled wrapper candle holder, repurposed jar lanternupcycled candy wrapper jars, upcycled wrapper candle holder, repurposed jar lantern

Oh, and my daughter’s jars turned out pretty well too!  They opted for a contrasting inside/outside spray paint effect:

(strange reflections on the glass there, sorry!)  So there you have it:  an excuse to go out and get lots of Quality Street sweets in stock.  And don’t worry if you can’t use up all your wrappers on jars, there will be plenty more Quality Street tutorials coming over the next couple of weeks!

* The makers of Quality Street aren’t paying us to say we like their packaging, or promoting these tutorials in any way.  It’s a shame, as our group puts a great deal of time and effort into keeping these packaging materials out of landfills and trying to inspire others to do the same. Support from them could make a huge difference, both to the disabled artists who participate in our group and to the environment.  If you’d like to see Nestle take a greater interest in promoting ways to upcycle their packaging, please tweet about this post to @nestleukpress.  Tell them we sent you!

**Avon isn’t paying us to tell you that Skin-So-Soft is awesome.  It just is.  Google “uses for Skin So Soft” and check out what you can do with this stuff!

***Mod-Podge isn’t paying us to tell you that it’s our favourite decoupage medium.  But if they want to, we probably won’t protest!