Tag Archives: recycling

Pack Rats and Upcycling

Old watch part, broken charm, vintage stamping.

I was given an illustration of a pack rat awhile back done by an artist and graphic designer I admire. It was meant kindly, but I was really insulted (by the giver, not the artist). It was a mean looking rat with a horde of junk.


Is that me?


I save a lot of stuff, and some of it I should probably get rid of, but a large extent I think there’s inspiration to be found in clutter. You never know what will be the perfect bit to finish off a project.


Small plastic fruit from a Christmas cracker? Perfect for the pirate doll I made so she doesn’t get scurvy. (True story.)


We won’t get into keys and watches and the old *stuff* that make excellent bases for steampunk projects. (My Wells watch is one of my favorites. Two broken watches and a piece of velvet too small to sew with.) I’ve made chainmail from wire scraps (the low/high point being micromail I made using scraps from my wirework wrapped around a doll making needle so the rings would be small enough) and charms made by hanging small bits and bobs off of said chainmail. I’ve jazzed up old hats by making flower fascinators out of ribbons, old buttons and broken earrings… 



Denim from no longer usable jeans and an old button.

People upcycle the most wonderful things. I’m such a sucker for the melted and reshaped crayonsOne artist makes fantastic classic jewelery from the security lining of envelopes.


Give pack rats some credit!


So, continuing with the Poetry month theme, here’s one of my favorite poems.


Yes, it’s a children’s poem, but I still love it. And really I really feel like Hector some days. (Especially with his twists of wire, I’ve bags of different metals that are still long enough for binding wraps!) Shel Silverstein’s Hector the Collector:


          Hector the Collector

          Collected bits of string,

          Collected dolls with broken heads

          And rusty bells that would not ring.

          Bent-up nails and ice-cream sticks,

          Twists of wires, worn-out tires,

          Paper bags and broken bricks.

          Old chipped vases, half shoelaces,

          Gatlin’ guns that wouldn’t shoot,

          Leaky boasts that wouldn’t float

          And stopped-up horns that wouldn’t toot.

          Butter knives that had no handles,

          Copper keys that fit no locks

          Rings that were too small for fingers,

          Dried-up leaves and patched-up socks.

          Worn-out belts that had no buckles,

          ‘Lectric trains that had no tracks,

          Airplane models, broken bottles,

          Three-legged chairs and cups with cracks.

          Hector the Collector

          Loved these things with all his soul–

          Loved them more then shining diamonds,

          Loved them more then glistenin’ gold.

          Hector called to all the people,

          “Come and share my treasure trunk!”

          And all the silly sightless people

          Came and looked … and called it junk.



What’s your take on *stuff*? Too much, too little, are you a save or a thrower? (Or hopefully at least a donater, let’s try to fill our landfills as slowly as possible.)

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Costuming and Cons

I’ve been in sewing limbo for the past few weeks trying to work on a project. I’m going to Dragon*Con weekend after next and still haven’t finished a costume. It’s eaten up a good chunk of time, though I have slipped little projects in around the sides.

I did try out some of the upcycled tee projects. I made a shopping bag, which is holding up nicely. I can see where smaller shirts make the best bags, but there is something to be said with oversized tees making bags big enough to hold all your groceries in one go! (As long as you’re not stocking up on canned goods…) I also tweaked a few tees to improve the neckline, and love how those turned out.

I also made/tweaked a few costume accessories, they most faster and involve slightly less frustration and swearing. The leather belt pouch I made from the center of an old renfair bodice, and the fan is swatches of chewed up fabric from salvaging for my vest (aka the project from hell…).

If anyone’s been to Dragon*Con before, I’d love tips. It’s my first time and looks a bit overwhelming.

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Resources, Repurposing, and Recycling

There’s so much waste this season. Time, money, resources… I’m trying to get better about using a minimum of materials. I still offer to wrap things on my etsy shop for customers, but my family isn’t so lucky 😉

I try to reuse paper when it’s doable, and use gift bags that can be reused by the recipient the next year when size/shape of the gift allows. I’ve made some fabric gift bags that can be repurposed as well, but haven’t quite gotten fast enough at sewing them up to make a widespread attempt. What was kind of neat was a woman in line in front of me at the fabric store last year had agreed with her sister that they’d each make at least a few bags (very bright and decorative ones guessing from her fabric) each year and keep swapping them between the two families.

Being a total magpie (or perhaps packrat) I try to use every bit of everything I can, and *hate* throwing away anything pretty. Years ago a friend of mine showed me how to make folded paper stars in return for me showing her how to make cranes.

We had a lot of fun in the dining hall swapping back and forth, and those stars make great fidget projects. You see them occasionally see jars of them for fundraisers made with the traditional papers. (She used to sometimes send me glow in the dark paper; I have an origami dealer in NYC!)

Somewhere along the line I decided that the small bits of wrapping paper were too pretty to throw out. I started cutting the scraps into strips and making them into stars. I gave small jars of them as gifts, and then decided that they’d make nice hanging ornaments for my friends and family who use them.

So if you have paper you like, save the extra bits, or the scraps once they’ve been torn off their packages, and make stars out of them. They take a long time, but little attention once you get a feel for it, so they’re a wonderful watching television or chatting time type of project. Once you make enough you can put them in glass jars or bottles to catch the light, use them as swanky packing peanuts for small fragile gifts, or carefully put them into hollow glass ornaments. It’s repurposing with class. And a super early start on next year… So unwrap those packages carefully!

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