Feb 26, 2011

Magazine Gift Bow Project

Here's a clever little idea that I found over at How About Orange for when you have a great gift for someone but forgot to get wrapping paper.

Cut a magazine page lengthwise into 9 strips, 3/4" wide. Leave 3 of the strips full length. Cut one inch off 3 of the strips. Cut two inches off 2 of the strips. Cut the last strip down to 3 1/2" long.

Twist each strip to form a loop at both ends and staple it in the center. Shape the last, short strip into a circle and secure it with some glue.

Layer the 3 longest pieces on top of each other, spacing them evenly and securing each with a staple.

Add the next two groups of pieces, doing the same. And finally, stick the loop into the center with some more glue.

Why not try out other decorative paper like a map or left-over wallpaper. Anything that has a little bit of colour would look great.

Feb 25, 2011

Upcycling Project

Over the next few weeks I'm going to try and concentrate more on larger upcycling projects.

Upcycling is a phrase coined by Cradle to Cradle authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart and involves the process of taking one material (sometimes at the end of it's life) and turning it into something of similar or greater value, in its second life.

Recently I've found some really great sites that have inspired me to get working and try to be a bit more creative.

Sarah Wandering had this great project for turning old drawers into a funky looking side cabinet.

All she did was add some Ikea Capita legs to the back panel of each drawer and then each drawer received a coat of a blue-grey paint. One drawer is placed open end facing the living room, the other drawer faces the wall and conceals her stereo speakers. She drilled 1/2" holes where the speakers are located so the sound isn't muffled.

I think it's a great idea - and there are tons of great ideas on upcycling out there.

Over the coming months I'll try and highlight the ones I like. The rest of the time I'll be keeping busy with new projects. I've bought a couple of old pieces of furniture and this weekend I plan on rolling my sleeves up and seeing what I can do.

As with previous projects I'll document the process. Hopefully showing you how easy it is and if it turns out well, how worthwhile it is.

Sometimes it's not just about taking old furniture and turning it into something new. Here's another project from Sarah that involves some 3 dollar rugs from IKEA.
She took 3 rugs, stitched them together, and filled with some wadding that she had left over from a previous project.
A custom dog bed that is rugged and durable and washable.

After this weekend I'll start posting pictures from my first big project.

Fingers crossed..........

Feb 18, 2011

Tap Water Vs Bottled Water Project

We've all had that Bottle Water/Tap Water debate, right?

There's always someone who parrots out the "Have you ever noticed that 'Evian' is 'Naive' backwards."
Well what does that say about 'newogyllab'? or 'civlov'?


Let's move on shall we?

So, we've all been in this situation.
Sitting in a Restaurant. A waiter takes our order and we ask for water for the table.

"Sparkling or Still?" they ask.
"Tap will be fine" we respond.

Now, when exactly did we wise up? It used to be that tap water was no good for us. We only ever wanted bottled water for the table.
- Has the recession forced us to play Russian Roulette with 'dirty old' tap water?
- Have we been conned into thinking bottled water is somehow safer or more convenient?
- When was it that I turned into Carrie from Sex & the City. Asking rhetorical questions as these words appear on a computer screen??

Consider this logic.

Restaurants will still serve you tap water.
If any industry were concerned about the safety of what it is serving, it would be restaurants.

Here's an infographic I found over on EPICR that you may (or may not) find interesting.

I know it's easy to pick up a bottle of water in a shop when you are out and about but water fountains still exist in public places. In fact, Thermos company has sponsored a FREE iPhone App to locate water fountains and encourage refilling water bottles. So iPhone users no longer have an excuse to buy bottled water (Well, in the US or Canada that is - but that's just for the moment - and it's a start. Also, half the people we know are in Canada right now - so no excuses. Get looking)

Feb 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Project

Image: Kaboose

Well Valentine's Day is almost upon us again.

I'll be honest with you. I don't normally go in for the whole Valentine's Day shenanigans. And I'm not going to harp on here about how it's just a marketing ploy to get people out spending their hard earned cash. Over charging in restaurants and of course the perfunctory price hike on a dozen red roses. No, you won't hear me go on about that. No Sir.

What I normally do is draw or paint a simple little picture, stick it to a piece of paper and write a loving message to my nearest and dearest.

Or maybe if I don't have the time (and by golly if you love the ones you love - you better make the time) I would find a nice image on the Internet. Print it out, and stick that on some paper...and claim it as my own.

I admit that here - wholeheartedly.
I'd better.

What are the lines of "Cemetery Gates" by The Smiths?

"If you must write prose and poems,
The words you use should be your own.
Don't plagiarise or take "on loan".
There's always someone, somewhere
With a big nose, who knows.
Who trips you up and laughs when you fall.
Who'll trip you up and laugh when you fall."

I even made that toast once (in the image at the top) with the fried egg in the shape of a heart.
Try it.
Trust me.
You will be surprised at how a simple little idea, born out of your own mind goes a long way.

If you do want to try a something a bit special. Here's a great little Valentine's Day idea that I found over at Design*Sponge that uses a recycled light bulb.

Image: Design*Sponge

1. Thin red gauge wire - from a DIY shop
(or use some red pipe cleaners - available at craft stores)
2. Light bulb
3. Pliers
4. Screwdriver
5. Scrap piece of wood or wood cube (craft stores usually sell these
or a chunky piece of wood would work)
6. 2 pins
7. Paper and pen
8. Scissors
9. Hammer and nail (optional - if you are using soft wood these are not necessary)
10.Craft glue

wire/pipe cleaner: about 1 euro
wood scrap or cube: 1 euro
tools, paper: on hand

Time: 1 hour


Step 1. Prepare a surface on a work table for hollowing out the bulb.

Step 2. Follow these instructions on how to hollow out the light bulb from teamdroid.com they are easy to follow instructions that also give good tips on safety and procedure.

Image: Design*Sponge

Step 3. When you have your bulb ready, clean the outside carefully.

Step 4. Cut a ten inch piece of wire to make a heart “filament”. Fold the wire in half to create a sharp crease, then unfold. About an inch from the crease, take both loose wire ends and loop both wires around to create the heart halves. Then pull both wires back down, overlapping the center of the crease and extending beyond the heart shape. you may want to tweak the heart halves a little to get heart shape that you like. Your heart should be about 1/2″ wide so it will fit through the base of the bulb pretty easily.

Image: Design*Sponge

Step 5. Take your filaments to your bulb and hold them up to see how long the stems need to be to have the heart filaments positioned in roughly the center of the bulb. Use your pliers to cut the extra wire off the ends. Test that they fit into your bulb without having to squash them or distort the shapes.

Step 6. If your wood is soft, you should be able to poke the wire filaments down into the top of the wood and they will stay in position. If you are using a firmer wood, use a hammer and nail to create a small guide hole. Remove the nail and push the wire down into the hole.

Step 7. Fit your glass bulb over the filaments and glue the bulb down to the wood at the base.

Step 8. Use the pins to attach your love note or message to the front of the piece of wood.

Image: Design*Sponge

And that's it. What a great way to recycle old light bulbs.

And lets be honest.
It doesn't even have to be an old light bulb, you could use the one in your house.

After all, it will be Valentine's Day. If there's going to be any light at all it really should only be candle light!

Feb 10, 2011

Ground Coffee Project.

I'm going to admit something here. On these very pages.

You may not like it. You may have a problem with it. But it's how I feel and ..well, the World just better get used to it.

Here it is...

I prefer Instant Coffee to Real Coffee.

There! I've said it. Wow. What a weight off my shoulders.

Now, "apparently" there are those of you out there who prefer your Real coffee.
With your illy, your Marcilla, your Italian Roast, your Full Bodied Colombian, your Gourmet French and of course your fairtrade Nicaraguan Blend.

Now most of you have 2 or 3 cups of Coffee a day. That's a lot of used coffee grinds that go into the trash.

Here's a simple Top Ten List of ideas that you can do with those used Coffee Grounds.

1. Mix the grounds with water to provide your houseplants with an "energized" drink. Plants need the nutrients found in coffee grounds, including nitrogen and potassium, both common ingredients in store-bought fertilizer. Using organic grounds will provide a healthier and happier plant environment!

2. Sprinkle used grounds on your outdoor plants.

3. Sprinkle a ring of used grounds around a tree or plantings to deter ants.

4. Use slightly damp grounds on icy steps and sidewalks. The grounds stick to the ice, creating a safer walking surface.

5. Pour a few grounds down your drains to gently scrape the sides of the pipes. Do not use if pipes are already slow draining or clogged.

6. Use to scrub gunk off surfaces such as grills and greasy pans. Use wet or dry grounds.

7. Keep a container of dried coffee grounds in a shaker near the kitchen sink. Use to scrub strong odors such as fish, garlic and onion, from your hands.

8. Wet your face and scrub with one tablespoon coffee grounds. This is a gentle exfoliating wash for your face.

9. Use steeped grounds and a cotton swab to touch up furniture scratches.

10. Coffee grounds are a great addition to any compost pile. Just throw them into your compost bin, filter and all.

As a side note - the image at the top comes from Lokesh Dhaka who is a designer and web developer living in Baltimore. If you like the Chart you can purchase some T-Shirts & Mugs with his illustration.

Feb 9, 2011

rePly Chair Project

Dawn breaks and it's time to face a new day.

You leave the house in the early hours and then you crawl inch by mind numbingly boring inch slowly through the never-ending snake of monotonous morning traffic. In fact, one morning I moved so slowly I may have actually seen one of my nails grow.

There is one benefit to moving slower than the aging process. You get the opportunity to peruse the lines and lines of skips that have taken up residence outside the over priced "boom years properties", which have now been forced into becoming simple old family homes - mortgaged up to the rafters (and you're lucky if you have any rafters!)

In what feels like a weird, over-sized, middle class Bric'a'Brac Sale you have skips that are filled with genuine rubbish. Bad floorboards, Rusted Pipes and Broken Windows. Others are filled with genuine treasure. Ornate Doors, Unfashionable Furniture and anything else found in the house that can and will be replaced with an IKEA counterpart - a somewhat "Furniture Version" of The Stepford Wives if you like.

As The Guardian article comments
"skip-hunting, which involves lurking outside houses undergoing refurbishment in search of discarded household items, is apparently enjoying a fresh revival as a result of the recession."

But there's another class of skip.

The "We're building an extension" skip. This is the one that I'd like to discuss here.

It's when I see these skips, overflowing with large sheets of wood and building materials that I hear the inner voice crying out in me... "WHY DON'T I OWN A VAN?????" How the hell am I going to fit 5 x 12ft Sheets of Wood into the back of my Volkswagen Polo?

It pains me to see this kind of waste. There is so much that can be made and built from the wasted material I see crammed into these over flowing skips.

Sometimes all you need is a few pieces of simple Plywood.

The rePly chair project was launched on May 4 2006. The project provides free downloadable plans to make your own recycled plywood lounge chair. How cool is that?
All the parts of the chair can be made from small pieces of scrap plywood that you can collect from anywhere.

If you Click on this Link it will bring you to a downloadable pdf that shows you how to do everything. It's as simple as that.

Here's a few examples of chairs made by people who did just that.

Perfect for the Back Garden when we have that once yearly BBQ (standing under umbrellas of course because who can organise a BBQ in advance and hope to have sunshine on the day?)

Or how about for relaxing in? Sitting and sipping some wine on your over priced balcony late into the evening, dreaming of the treasures still to find amongst the rows and rows of skips.

Office Scrap Paper Project

Image: Patent Pending Projects

Each week in my job I end up with a stack of outdated script pages, old schedules and useless fax paper cover notes.

This continues week in week out until 5 or 6 months down the line when the Project is over, it's time to box up the Paperwork and ship it off to Storage, which you wish would looks a little like that final scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". You know, the lines and lines of spacious corridors but actually it looks kind of more like Monica's secret closet in "Friends".

So you have to be ruthless and go through everything that's not neccessary and dispose of it. No Problem. But now you are left with a "6 month" stack of outdated script pages, old schedules and useless fax paper cover notes.

So, Toss them in the Recycling Bin? Of Course.

OR maybe you could try out this simple idea to make some Retro looking notebooks. Use them as Scribbling Books for the Kids, Storing Recipes, or keep it at your desk for day to day notes.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

The Materials:
1: Scrap paper (from faxes, printing mishaps and mail)
2: Bull clips (about 1 Euro from any stationary shop)
3: Scraps of cardboard cut into 1” inch strips
4: Craft glue, pva glue or Mod Podge (around 1 Euro from any craft shop)
5: Paint brush
6: Decorative scrap paper (I used old maps and one of our old wedding invitations)
7: Masking tape and/or coloured tape. (about 1 Euro from a DIY shop)

(Click on Image for larger picture)
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Cost: 0 Euro - That's if you have the craft items from previous projects, otherwise - around 3 Euro.

Time: About 2 Hours (this takes in the drying time for the glue)

Step 1. Fold 40 sheets of scrap paper in half. Be sure to be very precise and then stack them on top of each other.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 2. Keeping the pages evenly lined up, place a strip of cardboard slightly below the top edge of the cut edges. Attach the bull clips.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 3. Paste glue along the cut edges and use the paint brush to even it along the top edge. Maybe use a third bull clip in the center of the book to keep the pages together.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 4. Let dry and repeat 4 or 5 times, until you have a coat of clear glue that holds the edges together. Once the glue has dried for the last time, remove the bull clips-the pages should be secured together.

Step 5. Attach your decorative paper by gluing it across the top of the notebook.
Image: Patent Pending Projects
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 6. Secure with bull clips to hold in place and let dry.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 7. Attach the tape carefully along the spine of your notebook.
Image: Patent Pending Projects

Step 8. (Optional) Decorate with stickers, labels or anything else!
Image: Patent Pending Projects
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