Showing posts with label upcycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label upcycling. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Using old washing machines as garden beds

Here at the humpy we use everything again. My philosophy is to use, reuse, upcycle and hopefully compost anything that can't be of further use. One of the things that pass through our home fairly regularly is washing machines. I don't know why but I am hard on them. We use twin tubs to do our washing as we can save a HUGE amount of water by re-using wash water (and carefully sorting loads from cleanish to filthy) and twin tubs make it easier to bucket the used water out to water the garden. On average a washing machine will last for three years here before having some kind of catastrophic melt down, after which we fix it as best we can or buy another one (usually second hand, explaining the short life span). I have been stock piling the old machines in the yard waiting for inspiration to hit. My daughter was inspired to set them up as garden beds for vegetables recently.

Three washing machines and three chest freezers equals a lot of growing space

She took some timber rounds from the wood pile to use as legs for the new beds, this improves visibility under and around the beds (so we can see when Brian the black snake is around) and also gets the growing area above duck notice height. The washing machines and some stray chest freezers we had laying around were set up on their new legs along one wall of the humpy ready for filling with soil.

Since I have become obsessed with Hugelkultur I have been experimenting with places to put wood in the garden, this seemed like the perfect time to experiment. We collected heaps of old, half rotted branches from the ground around the humpy (within wheelbarrow distance) and filled the bottoms of the new beds. Then we used compost from the bottom of the chook pen (made from food scraps, straw, cardboard and newspaper all mixed with chook poo) to fill the rest of the beds. We planted peas, silverbeet, carrots and beetroot in the new areas.

It looks a mess, but chooks make great compost.

The peas and beetroot are up and thriving so far.

Peas at the back so they can climb the wire trellis against the wall and carrots in the front

We use pretty much anything that will hold soil to make garden beds here;

Old tires

Tanks cut in half

A trailer someone left here too long

Tell me about how you upcycle your rubbish.

Friday, 14 April 2017

New crayons from old

I have been in a real crafting frenzy this week, it's school holidays and for the first time in almost five years I don't have uni assignments pending. So I am taking this opportunity to make a heap of stuff for my Etsy store and markets, clean out some of the junk from my craft room and just plain enjoy not having to limit my time on craft stuff to get work stuff done.
When I go back to work (as a teacher this time!!!) I will be back to the daily struggle of trying to find time to do any craft, but for now...let the good times roll.

Today's offering is making new crayons by melting old ones. I cleaned out the crayon boxes at school and ended up bringing home a bucket full of broken old crayons and pastels. They have been sitting in my craft room for a term or two and today is the day I do something about it.

Lots of old crayons.

First the research;  
I found instructions for melting them directly into ice cube trays.
How to make crayons from scratch.
How to make play dough using old crayons.
How to make candles from old crayons.
How to make lip gloss from old crayons.

There is so much you can do with broken crayons that I started to wish I had more of them. 

First I tried to melt them in a silicone mold to make cute little duck shaped crayons. That's when I discovered that different brands and colours have a different melting point. Some melted and some didn't. So I melted them in a double boiler to avoid the lumpy duck outcome.

Some melt faster than others.

I spooned the melted wax into my duck mold and waited...
The resulting crayons were cute but a bit brittle, so I decided to add a little bit of beeswax to each melt to give the crayons a softer, smoother texture.

My duck mold has seen a lot of wax today

I added grated beeswax to the pot
That did the trick and the crayons were lovely little coloured ducks. My next refinement was so obvious I completely missed it while perusing all those tutorials; I decided to crush the crayons before plonking them in the double boiler to melt. I put them into a plastic bag and whacked them with a hammer until they were mush. So satisfying, and they melted faster and a lot more evenly.

My crayon crushing system

More colours.
I wiped the pot out between colours, but a lot of staining remained, this made the colour outcome somewhat...exciting and unpredictable. Just the way I like it.

My end result is some cute, but not really crisp and neat, duck crayons.

Some of my finished ducks. They are fairly neat on one side but very rough on the other.

But they work.
I am thinking of making up little packs of recycled crayons for the markets and my Etsy shop. What do you think? I have no idea what to charge for them, given that they are a waste resource, but someone may as well be using them rather than just throwing them in the bin.
I am also thinking that this activity might be fun to do with the kids at school, we could make little hearts for Mother's Day.

I wonder what else I can make from these old crayons?

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Making papercrete - Yet another way to use rubbish

Over this winter I have noticed a breeze blowing through the gap in our lounge room floor; the difference in height between the tyre floor and the pavers. This sneaky little breeze makes my feet cold while I spin (and I'm obviously metamorphosing into a cranky old lady) so I decided to try to block off this gap.
Enter the idea of papercrete; I have newspaper in abundance so it seemed a natural progression to mix up some papercrete and plug the gap with it. Papercrete is made by mixing newspaper soaked in water with concrete. The similarity between the recommended procedure and what I did ends there.

This is the gap I hope to fill. In addition to a sneaky breeze this gap also lets in antechinus, snakes and allows dropped cutlery to escape into the wild.

The recommended procedure says to soak the paper in a tow mixer designed to shred the softened paper and mix in the cement.

I shredded my paper...well ripped it up small, and soaked it in water in a bucket
 I was only doing a small test patch to see if it will work so I began by tearing up a bucket full of newspaper. The paper soaked for a week so it was good and soft.

I used a half bag of cement mix I had in the shed.

I added the whole half bag of cement...forgetting to pour off the extra water.

I mixed the lot into a sloppy slurry and began to pack it into the gap. The bucket full of goop went further than I thought it would, but it is still very rough and I think it will crack when it dries.

The filled up gap

As you can see it's rough.

While this was a very quick and dirty experiment I can see a lot of potential for this building material. If the papercrete holds in this gap I am thinking of using it to fill the gaps and cracks around doors and windows. I might even go as far as building a tow mixer to make HUGE batches as I am lucky enough to have access to almost unlimited newspaper.

 In other news...I went on a little field trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Brisbane last weekend and found this amazing piece there. It reminds me of the tumors that grow on really old gum trees.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Upcycling old tiles into wall art

Coffee, craft and off colour jokes.
A while ago my dad bought down a pile of old mismatched tiles he had found while cleaning out his shed. These little beauties sat on the useful pile for a few months waiting to become something. Yesterday inspiration hit... the girls are home for a visit and we were having a craft day...fueled by ill-advised internet searches (damned Pinterest). We made Popsicle stick bracelets,tile wall art and did some applique.

The wall tiles were so easy and so much fun. I don't usually make decorative things; I prefer making useful items, but my daughters convinced me. I must say the process was easy and very satisfying.

Three of my finished tiles

First we found a tutorial that we understood; The Crunchy Betty blog is written in easy to understand language (just follow the link). Then we dug around and found all the essential ingredients we needed;

photos and/or diagrams
Mod Podge
foam applicators
Spray on varnish
felt sheets
hot glue gun and glue
Super glue
picture hanging hooks

 I didn't take any photos of the ingredients gathering, but the list isn't long.

 Then we spread out some newspaper and painted Mod Podge onto our tiles. This step required making a new pot of coffee and telling off colour jokes (just to keep things interesting). We glued our pictures onto the tiles; one of my daughters had to re-glue hers as it wasn't exactly straight and she couldn't live with it. The next step was to wait for the first layer of Mod Podge to dry we started decorating some Paddlepop stick bracelets we had made previously (ADHD is rampant in my family).

Spreading out our first layer

Decorating our bracelets

This fox design is burned into the wood with an old soldering iron.

As an aside....we soaked our Paddlepop sticks in vinegar for about 15 minutes then bent them into coffee cups (as in this photo) and left them to dry by the fire. When they were dry we took them out and decorated them.

Our tiles with the pictures glued down and the second coat of Mod Podge on

 We coated our tiles with Mod Podge a total of three times, waited for them to dry between each coat, then sprayed some varnish over the top. We put the tiles in the sun to dry for an hour or so and did a spot of sewing.

An applique blanket as an ode to my eldest daughter's favourite TV show.

As a finishing touch we super glued some picture hooks to our tiles and covered the backs with felt squares (hot glued on).

Super glue will hold the little hook things on the tiles...we hope

Felt squares glued to the back finished off our tiles.

Our craft day was a lot of fun and we learned a couple of new things;

Don't allow free roaming birds on the craft table when using Mod Podge (Barry was very interested) and;
Get your pictures straight the first time (or you have to reprint them).

Now I have to make a wall to hang my new tiles on.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe - Last 2015 update (probably)

Back in June I challenged myself to make a weeks worth of clothes using mostly up-cycled materials.
So far I have succeeded making some items from my challenge list...

Seven pairs of underpants, in fact I made ten pairs.

Three skirts

Three pairs of long pants, I just can't stop making these.

At the moment I am working on making some tops from remnant materials I have found in my stash and at the second hand store. After that I will tackle shorts and socks (not together obviously). The hard things like bras and shoes will be left until last... I have a few ideas.

The prototype top, simple but comfortable.
More and more of my clothes are hand made now. I am really pleased with my progress on this challenge. I am wearing everything I make regularly and even making some things not on the list originally (like house dresses).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Up- cycled wardrobe project- a really comfortable house dress

On one of my infrequent trips to town recently I discovered a queen sized quilt cover in a second hand shop (for the queenly price of $5). It was made from good quality cotton, in lovely colours, so I bought it for my sewing projects. I did consider using it on the bed as I do need new bed spreads, but in the end I couldn't resist the colours.

I decided to make a simple summer house dress, and by house dress I mean a dress to wear at home, in the paddocks, in the bush and occasionally in the house. The first step was to find a simple pattern to try...along comes 'Greenie dresses for less' a great blog about up-cycling. I chose the convincingly labeled 'easy summer dress' pattern and away I went.

This is the finished dress on it's hanger.

My first step was to unpick the side and bottom seams of the quilt cover.

Yes it did take a long time; almost an entire Youtube documentary about mermaids.

Then I cut out two rectangles of fabric 107 x 97 cm each, cleverly keeping the hemmed bottom of the cover so I don't have to do it later.

I sewed the side seams up using French seams (so I don't have to zig zag the edges).

This is the finished French seam, aren't they so neat and tidy.

This is my ironing set up. The old iron is solid aluminium and very heavy. I use the frying pan to keep the bottom clean while I heat it up to iron.

Ironing the seams and such. I love the smell of fresh ironing.

The almost last step was to sew up a pocket for the shoulder straps to go through.

The iron made this so easy to do.

Then I made the shoulder straps. I decided to make some cord (or rope) to use as shoulder straps. This is so easy and quick to make. The 'recipe' is...take some lengths of yarn, cord or string, make sure you have about double the length you will need (more if you have a lot of pieces). Attach one end to a hook or something (another person is good if you have one handy), then standing at the opposite end twist the cord away from you until it is full of twist energy. It should try to twist back on itself if you slacken the tension.
When it has enough twist in it you can fold the piece in half, keeping tension on the length as you do this. Make the cord by releasing small lengths of cord from the folded end a bit at a time. Finally tie a knot in the end and there is your cord.

I know it sounds complicated, but it isn't. Give it a try and see.

I measured out three metre lengths of bamboo yarn until I had nine lengths in total.

The final result

These house dresses are not fancy, (or even flattering on me), but they are cool and comfortable and allow me a full range of motion. I think I will sew up a few more.
Next time I think I will make the back much shorter than the front so it gives me a smoother line at the back. I also might make the shoulder straps longer so I can adjust the fit more.

What do you think?

Oh, and I dug out my old corset to see what it would look like with the new dress. All I can say is I know why tavern wenches were so easy to talk out of their clothes...those things are hard work.

It didn't last long on.