Today I’m hosting an event in my hood with my dear friend Natalie at her creative workspace, Supersmith. If you live in NYC and you’re looking for an excuse to visit Red Hook this evening, come join us. Bring underused items of value such as books, apparel, kitchen stuffs, art/office supplies, holiday gifts that missed the mark, and more to swap for new-to-you items. Or just bring yourself! We’ll have a fire burning, snacks and libations, a sweet dog named Bones, and an 9-week-old kitten named Julio at the Trading Post.
Tag Archives | repurpose
The index finger on the left hand of my beloved SmartWool gloves gave out this winter. It started to unravel at the beginning of the season and I tried to tie it off but it didn’t hold and now I’m exposed to halfway down my proximal phalanx. It’s been fine when I’m on foot and can pocket my hands, but on really cold days while I’m riding my bike, it can get pretty uncomfortable. I’ve been trying to buddy up in the middle finger, but it’s a tight fit. So it was time for new pair. I searched around for some used gloves in local thrift and consignment stores but couldn’t find any that had much life left in them. So I picked up the above beauties from the Moonlight Rose Alpacas stand at the Wintertime Farmer’s Market. Moonlight Rose breeds and raises alpacas in Swansea, Massachusetts less than 20 miles from Providence. I’ve long admired their hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and socks on display at the markets. The grey, brown, beige, and white colors are the natural alpaca fiber colors. No dyes are used. Unfortunately the gloves did come with a plastic tagging barb (not recyclable) that holds the company’s paper tag to their products. I find it’s really hard to avoid these little guys when shopping for clothing, even when you are buying used garments. They are so soft and warm and I’m really happy with my purchase. It feels good to buy a locally sourced and produced pair. Hopefully with proper care they will last a long time!
Meanwhile I have to decide what to do with my old pair. I considered the possibility of composting them but they contain 1% elastane and 4% nylon (the other 95% of the yarn is merino wool). I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to cut the rest of the fingers off and sew the ends well enough to prevent unraveling and make them fingerless gloves for warmer weather or for working in the cold studio or archive. I’m determined to stretch their life out, repurpose, or recycle them somehow.
Along with books from my childhood, I also brought back a diary, which I will keep. It was given to me when I was 5 years old, so as you might imagine, there aren’t a lot of lengthy recordings of my day-to-day activities. Instead, several brief entries like the one above are scattered throughout the book of mostly blank pages. In case you can’t make out the entry, it reads:
“Dear Diary let me tel you about Dolphin. Did you know that there were more than fifdy kind”
Sifting through the belongings I saved growing up, it appears there are some fundamental similarities between the child I was and the adult I’ve become. And I’m filled with the sense that perhaps we’re more than a product of our experiences.
I plan to use the rest of the pages. The paper is good and even in this age of personal electronic devices, I still hand draw and write notes, lists, and ideas on a daily basis. So I figure I might as well fill every inch of this precious little book. Plus I kind of dig the floral fabric cover.
My parents are getting ready to move and one of the reasons for my visit with them last week was to collect some belongings that they’ve generously stored for me over the years. I’ve talked about paring back the items in my apartment to make my No Trash Project run more efficiently, but I left out the fact that I still had a closet full of things in another location. Getting my immediate space down to a carefully curated collection of objects—both essential and beautiful, has felt wonderful. But knowing that there was another out of sight pile that needed to be sorted and unloaded was always a bit daunting, especially since I knew these keepsakes from my childhood would be difficult for me to make decisions about. Nostalgia is a mechanism that operates strongly within me.
Before the electricity went out in the storm, I got through the first of what will probably be several passes. My mom and I sifted through the boxes together, which was not always productive, but very enjoyable. There was a great deal of giggling over construction paper elementary school projects, earnest diary entries by my six-year-old self (brimming with spelling errors), loved and battered stuffed animals and dolls, letters from first boyfriends, and sketchbooks full of drawings and poems. Though everything in those boxes was at one time precious, I was able to fill my car trunk with items to let go of.
The stack pictured above is a sample from two boxes of books I brought back to Providence to sell and donate. These books were at one time well adored (I was really into Roald Dahl), but they have been sitting unread and unopened for years. I decided it’s time to put them back into circulation so that they may have a chance to be enjoyed once again. Today I took the boxes to Cellar Stories—a used bookstore downtown. I like the idea of supporting small local booksellers… and of course it’s always nice to get a little cash in exchange. While the shopkeepers looked through my books I perused the aisles of treasures. Just over half of my collection was accepted and I received about $60. I wasn’t able to leave the shop without purchasing a beautiful vintage botanical book that I will share with a friend. But my load is much lighter. I will try to sell the rest at Paper Nautilus (formerly Myopic Books) in Wayland Square, and whatever they wont take I will donate The Salvation Army.
It’s trash night on the east side. I’m always amazed by what people put out on the curb, especially with a Salvation Army within a mile of so many homes on the hill. Considering the white piece for studio shelving…
Built a planting box today for my tomatoes. My landlady suggested the project and I took her up on it. I will put it in a corner in the driveway that gets a lot of sun and hopefully they’ll grow well there. The wood is salvaged from outside the Ajay Land Company building where I share a studio. There was some slight warping to the found boards, so the box turned out a bit wonky, but it will serve it’s purpose well. Now I need some dirt!
Finding completely naked produce isn’t easy. Plastic bags, mesh sacks, cellophane, twist ties, tags, stickers, baskets, boxes, and even Styrofoam trays fill the display stands and shelves of nearly every grocery store in the country. Even at my local farmer’s markets, some venders use plastic bags to parcel out salad mix and berry boxes to hold berries and cherry tomatoes.
I’ve learned to avoid all of these offenders and still eat a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, but I decided a while ago to make an exception for the rubber bands that tie together bunches of herbs, dark leafy greens, beets, radishes, and stalky vegetables. A rubber band is a useful thing, but I’ve found that I seldom have a reason to use them and I’m having trouble finding anyone else who does. The grocery store won’t take them back, and I have stocked my office supply closet at work with at least a year’s supply for the entire staff. I’ve also been trying to pass them off to other artists in the building where my studio is located, but no one seems to be chomping at the bit for rubber bands.
I plan to ask venders at the farmer’s market this Saturday (the first outdoor market of the season!) if anyone can reuse them. The best case scenario would be to return them to the source. I’ll post an update when I find a solution.
I just bought some new (old) clothespins to use on the clothesline I’ve been planning to install in my living room. I couldn’t find any quality wood pins in my area so I finally ended up ordering this vintage set on etsy. I contacted the seller and asked her to ship them without any plastic packaging and she was very accommodating. They arrived yesterday loose in a cardboard box with some newspaper filler. I wanted to find an older set because I figured they might be sturdier than some of the flimsy new spring pins I’ve seen for sale. These are great, and I look forward to putting them to use. With a line and pins, not only will I be able to hang my clothes, but also larger items like my sheets.
I happened to have a burlap bag that’s a perfect size for the pins.
This primitive springless pin came with the set. I think it’s such a beautiful object. I might try to make some like it with the scraps from my woodworking projects.
Picked up a couple more glass jars at Savers the other day to accomodate more dry bulk goods. I spent 4 dollars on the pair.
So far this holiday season, gift-giving hasn’t been the completely trash-free picture I envisioned several months ago. But this year my family and I managed to make less waste than we’ve made in years past.
The tradition of giving gifts on Christmas, birthdays, mother’s and father’s day runs deep in my family. When we were kids, my parents gave me and my siblings toys in big boxes that spilled out from under the Christmas tree. My mom refers to those years as our pink plastic Christmases, as my sister and I would often receive dolls and doll accessories packaged in pink cardboard boxes with cellophane windows. As we grew older the spectacular gift display under the tree diminished and my siblings and I assumed the duty of giving back to our parents and to each other. Now that we’ve become adults with our own many financial responsibilities, the pressure to give several things has dissipated. This year we all pooled our money to get each person one thing that they wanted. I was in charge of coordinating my mom’s gift–a pair of English leather boots that she can wear hiking in the woods near my parents’ house. I felt good giving this particular gift because I know that if she takes care of them, she’ll have the boots for the rest of her life.
For many years now I’ve been wrapping gifts in unbleached craft paper from rolls I’ve bought at art supply stores. This was in part an effort to save money on gift-wrapping, but also to use a material that was less taxing on the environment than glossy wrapping paper. I also prefer the look to most patterned papers. This year I had grand plans to wrap all my gifts in fabric with different furoshiki techniques. But I ran out of time and decided to use a large piece of craft paper that my friend Kara had used to wrap the beautiful gift (two ceramic hanging planters) she made for me this year. The piece was just large enough to wrap my mom’s boots in, but because it had been used to wrap the planters, it was creased in many places. So I decided to give the paper a more deliberate, even texture and I crinkled it all over. I used paper tape in a few select places instead of plastic scotch tape. I finished it with a white ribbon from my ribbon stash–a jar full of fabric ribbons I’ve collected and re-used over the years.
Stockings are also a part of our tradition, but this year I didn’t give any stuffers. Mindful of my No Trash Project, my mom didn’t fill my stocking with packaged goods. Instead she gave me the wool running socks I had asked for and an olivewood spoon for my kitchen.
I’ve been making hemp cloths for friends, which I will give without any wrapping when I see them. I have many loved ones with birthdays coming up in January. I plan to give homemade and home cooked gifts. Homemade granola in glass jars wrapped in furoshiki cloth is what I’m imagining. I also love the idea of giving an experience as a gift–particularly surprise experiences, which I’ve been doing lately, even though some of my squirmy kidnapped friends find the trip to an unknown destination torturous. The looks on their faces when we arrive at a special place or event is totally worth it.