January 31, 2011

Pull Tabs: Myths and Truths by Pop Top Lady

When I started working with recycled aluminum pull tabs in my crochet, I realized I couldn't possibly drink enough (soda or beer) to supply my tab needs. I did not know a lot of people that could contribute either. So I started looking in the internet for alternatives. I remembered that the Ronald McDonald Charities collected them, but when I did my first search, I came across a page on Rumor Has It that caught my attention. Turns out they are not worth that much and a lot of those stories people tell about the VA Hospitals buying wheelchairs for veterans and the Kidney Society getting money for dialysis machines are just that...stories. They were isolated initiatives that took a life of their own and were somehow blown out of proportion by the people passing them on.

Over the years, looking at the hype created by these stories and the amount of people frustrated after collecting tons of tabs, serious initiatives started flourishing. Most of them don't do it for the money raised, but for the mobilization of people around their cause.

Read more about it on Squidoo...


Claudia is the PopTopLady, you can find her extraordinary crocheted and knitted fashions and jewelry in Claudia's Pull Tab Shop on Etsy. We are proud that she is a member of Upcyclers, an Etsy team of artists who Love 2 Upcycle!


More Pull Tab Creations by Upcyclers:

January 28, 2011

Love 2 DIY on the Weekend

This week's dose of creative upcycled inspiration is the bi-fold tire tube wallet.

I haven't made anything yet in the 52 week challenge using tire tubes so week #7 is a great place to start ha. The inspiration for this came from requests.

I've never been a huge fan of thick bi-fold wallets so I made this one as thin as possible. Learn how to make your own bi-fold wallet.

Keep upcycling the day away!

Check out my upcycled tire tube creations at derekhowlettdotcom on Etsy.

Derek :)

January 27, 2011

Urban Mining and E-Waste by Eco Warrior Jeweller

photo by JohnJMatlock

Urban mining is a term used to described the process of reclaiming the compounds and elements in building, products and waste. Apparently,  1 gramme of gold can be reclaimed from 41 mobile phones.  Unfortunately, precious metals and base metals are needed more and more in the production of technological gadgets. Electronic goods nowadays have a life span of only a couple of years before they become e-waste, as the technology advances so fast the consumer feels the need, for different reasons to constantly update his collection of electronic gadgets. The problem is not going to go away, we need to recycle all electronic items. We should be recycling all our waste but that is not technically possible, but even more importantly we should be seriously tackling the issue of packaging, and consumerism, which in the past 25 years has increased to near unsustainable levels.

photo by manbeastextraodinaire

The recycling of electronics is not a solution to the growing problem as there are many hazardous elements that need to be extracted in adequate conditions to protect the worker. At the moment too much of the e-waste is being dumped on the developing countries to be "recycled" in more often than not primitive conditions . Greenpeace is working on trying to bring awareness to people, but it is an issue that we should all address when buying a new phone, computer, MP3, etc.

This article was originally posted by Laurette, author of Eco Warrior Jeweller. It was also reposted by Urban Mining.
Another post by the Eco Warrior Jeweller:

The Impact and Pollution of Gold Mining in the Amazon Rainforest

Laurette sells jewelry made from recycled, upcycled, salvaged and found materials in her shop, Becycle, on Etsy. She is also a member of Upcyclers, an Etsy team of artists whose members Love 2 Upcycle.

Wine and Apple Juice bottles were used to make these beads.

January 26, 2011

Meet & Greet: Netteblo

Annette from Netteblo has a wonderful collection of encaustic Paintings, re-cycled/Up-cycled jewelry, collected vintage pieces, original one of a kind Jewelry and much more.
Fun Funky Metal Flower Ring Up Cycled

To get to know Annette and Netteblo I asked her a few questions about herself and her shop. 

Check out what she has to say:

Tell us a little about yourself and what you sell.
I received my degree in Fine Art in 1997 with an inter-area focus in ceramics and sculpture. I worked mainly in ceramics from 1993 until 2005. At that time, I made a life changing move from the Gulf Cost of Mississippi to southwest Florida. I had lived 37 years in Mississippi before moving. All of my ceramic studio equipment and materials were put into a storage building on my property where I reside in Florida and it is still in that storage today. I found that I did not have enough space to once again make a ceramic studio. As most artists know, you cannot be a creative type and sit by doing nothing creative at all.

Earrings OOAK Raku and Bead Earrings

Why did you decide to work with upcycled/recycled/repurposed materials?
My husband and I also own our own business of Mold Inspection and Remediation Contracting, so that ate up a lot of my time, however, once I got settled into all of that, I started to look at ways I could create, utilizing the small amount of space I did have, and the even smaller amounts of time. We are blessed with a plethora of consignment, thrift and second hand stores as well as estate sales. There are almost 20 within a 1 mile radius of our home and they are filled with very collectible, valuable and sought after items! I found myself perusing these often, purchasing a little something each time. Eventually, I decided I would take this vintage jewelry, deconstruct the pieces and reconstruct them in a very modern approach. This began my journey with upcycling jewelry. Next to our office is an upholstery shop that also sells designer fabrics. They were throwing sample books in the garbage bin one day and I could barely handle them throwing away some of those beautiful fabrics. They were small square or rectangular samples...I thought and thought about what I could utilize these fabrics for so that they wouldn't end up in a land fill (being eco-conscious). Then it came to me...I could make deconstructed looking purses and bags out of them...thus, the beginning of my line of bags. I have some other ideas for these sample fabrics as well and hope to get started on those soon.

The Amy bag a Recycled Upholstery Fabric Clutch

What inspires you to create/sell what you do?
My "Erla" line was the concept I came up with for all of my pieces that I recycled, upcycled or repurposed, although some of my jewelry is made from new materials. "Erla" was taken from my two grand daughters names...Ella Reine and Laurel Ava...the four initials from their names makes up the name "Erla". They and my daughter, Amy Nicole, are very inspiring to me.

I tend to create what I enjoy creating, not what the market warrants and sometimes, because of this I am not a mainstream seller, but I am still doing what I enjoy doing and that is what matters the most to me, after all!

Silver Cuff Bracelet with Vintage Embelishments

What is your favorite thing about running your Etsy shop?
I joined Etsy as a shopper when it first came on the horizon. I opened shop to sell in 2009 with just a few items. I enjoy the Etsy site, firstly because of its ease of use...secondly because it is very inexpensive to list and sell, although promoting is more expensive

Since i have joined Etsy has more than doubled it's membership and it's presence on the internet world has grown tremendously.

I just received my first West Elm catalog for 2011 and there were several Etsy members' artwork in the catalog. That says multitudes about the awareness of Etsy as a place to find socially conscious, homemade crafters' work. I am proud to be part of that and hope to grow right along with Etsy as it does!!!

See all of Annette's work in her Etsy Shop.

See you next week,

January 24, 2011

A Rendezvous With Upcycling Pioneers

This weekend I attended the 40th Alafia River Rendezvous, the Southeast's largest pre-1840's interpretive encampment. Hosted by the Florida Frontiersmen, every year over 1200 participants come to Homeland, Florida and live in camps while portraying many different cultures and regions of Early America. Over 100 craftsmen demonstrate or sell a large variety of historic artifacts or reproductions. What does this have to do with upcycling, you ask? Pioneers, by necessity, were Upcyclers. They knew that the only way to survive was to be self-sufficient, and were forced to sustain themselves with what little they had. The results were often ingenious and innovative, some even revolutionary. Best of all, the beauty of their craftsmanship elevated these inspired objects to Art.

The day was crisp and lovely, and I was transported in time to a peaceful community of kind and gentle neighbors who shared a kindred spirit of love and appreciation for our history. Their knowledge of the tools and trades of this period was impressive and vast. I found myself wishing I had been there for their entire eleven day stay...One would need at least that much time to truly relish all that was there to offer: authentic food, drink, music and tales told round the fireside at night. But alas, I had but one day... it makes you consider the purchase of a canvas tent and some pioneer attire.


Mustang Sally and the Hamjo's

January 21, 2011

Love 2 DIY on the Weekend

Week #6 Copper Key Chain w/ Charm

What else can I do with copper?

Well this week at derekhowlettdotcom, I turned some old scrap copper wire in to a really cool modern key chain with a funky charm.

100% upcycled and certainly one that is funky and hip.

Check out the copper key chain w/ charm right now!

Check out my upcycled tire tube creations at derekhowlettdotcom on Etsy.

January 19, 2011

Meet & Greet: Mellostuff

This weeks Meet & Greet is our team leader Mel from Mellostuff.  The Mellostuff collection is brought to you by Mel and her sister Lori. Mel designs and hand-assembles all the jewelry using unique stones and vintage recycled jewelry parts.  Lori is quality control central, lands everything online and keeps Mel organized.

time travelers wife cuff 
I asked Mel and Lori a few question and this is what they had to share with us.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you sell
Mello Stuff was named after me (Mel) and my little sister (Lori). As children, we played in our Grandmother's jewelry box and decades later, here we are - still playing with jewelry! I guess we take it for granted that everyone else feels the same way about 'pretty things' and we really appreciate unique art pieces that tell stories. So Lori talks a lot and tells me her stories and I design jewelry that inspires them or is inspired by them.

Lime Czech glass chandelier earrings

Why did you decide to work with upcycled/recycled/repurposed materials?
As a long time cast-off jewelry rescuer who winces at the idea of it being destroyed or thrown away, I began experimenting with the incorporation of themed art in jewelry using cast off materials. Acquiring the broken pieces of others' at estate and yard sales, flea markets and anywhere I come across them, I've combined them with my own extensive collection to create pieces like you see in my shop; absolutely unique, one of a kind, wearable body art that tells a story. Incidentally, if it can be repaired, I always fix it first. No repairable jewelry is harmed in the making of my work.

Purple Passion Barefoot Sandals

What is your favorite thing about running your etsy shop?
Ha, that's easy! SALES! Seriously, I absolutely love getting to know other artisans and as you can see by our enormous favorites list, we love window shopping as much as we love listing.

Burgundy Butterflies Ribbon Bib Necklace

What inspires you to create/sell what you do?
I was born with a paintbrush in my left hand. Once a piece of jewelry landed in my right hand, it was all over for me. We both love anything and everything artistic... from words, to painting, to crafting, music, design... if it is a creation, we honor the creator. Both of us are eternally inspired by creations of every manner and find great personal satisfaction in the act of creating. As for selling it, my greatest moments usually come from repairing a sentimental heirloom jewelry piece that has sat in someone's hope chest for decades just waiting to be fixed and worn. When they thank me with grateful tears in their eyes, that's the ultimate payment.

Steampunk Pendant Copper 

Where we can find Mellostuff on the web?
Member of Team Upcyclers on Etsy!
www.mellostuff.com (Etsy shop)

Thanks Mel and Lori for sharing.

See you next week,
Boost Your Creative Business Blog Giveaway January 17 - 23

January 17, 2011

300+ Love 2 Upcycle~ That's a Whole Lotta LOVE!

Over 300 
Artists have joined Upcyclers,
our Etsy team of artists who Love 2 Upcycle!
An amazing feat to accomplish in just over two months...

We have welcomed some of the earliest sellers of upcycled products on Etsy, like Pop Top Lady, one of the first to sell crocheted pop top creations. Another new member, OhNoUDidn't! Designs has been creating original recycled snack wrapper fashions since 2004, and now sells on Etsy.

Proudly diverse, our members create products from every material you can imagine! And for everyone also: men, women, children, pets! Then there's products for your home, garden, vehicle, patio, office... All with one common thread: Reducing waste. We have shop owners who have just opened as well, some who have just discovered their talents, self-taught and driven by their dreams. Others have been selling on Etsy since the beginning. Some of our artists have been schooled in the finest institutions, some have been taught or inspired by parents or relatives. And then there are those who, having had their own children, decided to instill a love for the planet, creativity and self-sustainability- or just wanted to be able to stay home with them!

Their stories are wonderful to read- little snippets of inspiration shared by a community of like-minded individuals who happened to find a niche for themselves with others who...
Love 2 Upcycle!

Sustainable Kids- Eco Warrior Polo

OhNoUDidn't! Designs

Igrek & Zed Dry Goods Co.

Recycled State by John Birdsong

Voight Metal - Robot Banks

January 14, 2011

Love 2 DIY on the Weekend

The Bamboo Bike Frame

This week's project that I undertook was building a bamboo bike frame. I traveled to New York City and took a workshop that showed us from start to finish how to build a working bicycle frame. This isn't a detailed DIY article. The goal for this article was to provide you with inspiration.

If you could use bamboo to build a frame, what else could you use?

That is one of the questions as upcyclers that we can continually ask ourselves. We don't always have to create some new innovative project each time, we can look at what has already been built and see if we can use our set of skills to build that object in a new innovative way.

I go in to more detail in my article Week #5 : The Bamboo Bike Frame about how everything was built. It was a really cool project and I hope you read the article and feel inspired in some way. Enjoy!


January 12, 2011

Meet & Greet: Collagical

This weeks Meet & Greet is with our team captain Cat from Collagical. Collagical is full of vintage fashion, designer jewelry, beaded glass suncatchers, cracker jack charms, ooak collages, tag art and ephemera collage materials.

Her shop is an eclectic mix of whimsical, fanciful, and Collagical elements and objects.

Vintage Ribbon Flower Brooch or Pendant 
I asked Cat a few questions and here is what she had to say about herself and her business.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you sell.
I never thought of myself as an artist, didn’t even think I could draw all through my childhood. But I studied art with a teacher who taught using ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’, a light bulb turned on and I could see the world in a whole different way. When people started telling me how creative I was, and how they wished they could do what I do, I wondered, ‘Hmmm? Maybe I am an artist…’ So I’ve been making just about anything that inspires me or strikes a chord in me. Collaging is the closest to my heart- gathering diverse elements and bringing them together in a composition is magical for me, like writing a song or a poem- it’s a spiritual expression of the heart. But my shops are an eclectic mix of all kinds of media and crafts, some handmade, some vintage; and I’ve only listed a fraction of the items I have to sell!

Vintage Estee Lauder Compact Pendant Necklace

Why did you decide to work with upcycled/recycled/repurposed materials?
I’ve been an environmentalist since I was a little kid, doing roadside cleanups, Girl Scout projects and such. When I started leading troops, I taught the girls about nature, sustainability and how to do crafts with found objects. For a couple of years in the 90’s, I did school-wide two week seminars for Earth Day Celebrations. My favorite part was a contest called ‘Treasures from Trash’. These kids made the most amazing upcycled creations- it was inspiring. Back then, everyone thought it was clever and cute. Today it’s eco-chic, trendy and marketable! Labels aside, what matters to me is that it’s helping our planet by reducing waste.

Seaside Dreams Mixed Media Collage Upcycled Seashell

What is your favorite thing about running your etsy shop?
I’ve dreamed of owning a co-op gallery for years. One with workshop space, a supply shop with donated surplus goods from the community and room for classes and art therapy programs for seniors, abused women and troubled teens. In the meantime, I have a shop, virtual, but it‘s mine! I own it and I can spread my wings and run my little corner of the internet. I love what Etsy has done for artists and crafters! Finally a place where we can return to our mom and pop roots and once again treasure the value of quality handmade goods, and you don’t have to have a bankroll to open a shop!

Upcycled Vintage Bunnies Mixed Media Assemblage Art

What inspires you to create/sell what you do?
One of my favorite possessions is a pink striped pillow my Great Grandmother made for me when I was a little girl. Then when I was 11, my Aunt taught me to sew and I made a poncho. I was thrilled, and hooked on making it myself. I am always a bit giggly and proud as a peacock when I finish a project and can say, “I made it!”

Where you can find Collagical on the internet. 
Collagical Etsy Shop ♦ I'm Sew Pretty Etsy shop ♦ Collagical Artfire Shop
Collagical BlogI'm Sew Pretty Blog ♦ Photo Art by cnicely Blog

Thanks Cat for sharing!

See you next week,

January 9, 2011

From Cookie Cutter to Like Butter- Room Makeovers On the Cheap by Mostaza Seed

from Mostaza Seed
launched her new feature, From Cookie Cutter to Like Butter- Room makeovers on the Cheap.
This series is designed for folks who have identified their space as needing help, but don't quite now where to start and fear taking risks. 
Each week, she will use a photo of a vanilla room and give it a virtual makeover, of sorts, by suggesting changes that would take the room from bland to GRAND!

Now, there have to be rules because the goal is for people who identify their space as being blah and are on a budget, to be able to take these ideas and run with them, if they so choose.

Rule #1.  No makeover will amount to more than $1,000 (before tax and shipping)

Rule#2.  All suggested changes will be easy to find online or in a local store.

Rule#3.  Is more of a request. In order for this series to grow, She would like you to send her photos of rooms in need to help. You can send them to: mostazaseeddesign@gmail.com.

See Stephanie's suggestions to take this room from cookie cutter to like BUTTER!

Don't forget to browse through Mostaza Seed on Etsy!

January 7, 2011

Reuse, Reduce, Repurpose, UPCYCLE, Relove!

49 Creative Reuse Ideas from Re-Nest

Greetings Upcyclers, Upcycle Enthusiasts, and Artists!

'Tis the New Year and in order to celebrate our love of creating new from the old, I thought this inspiring post on Re-Nest would get your creative juices flowing!

Compiled by Cambria Bold, Re-Nest's Managing Editor, she highlights 49 awesome ideas to creatively reuse everyday items to give it a green facelift. There are actually well over 49 ideas in this post since they link to articles with 10 or 20 uses for everyday items. So have at it!

*CLICK* if you Love 2 Upcycle:

Upcycle Love,
Tiff at
Unique Eco Fashion, Home Decor, and Gifts

January 5, 2011

Hey Everyone!

Hope everyone is having a great New Year so far. I know I am :)

I just recently joined the Etsy Upcycling team and the Etsy community in general. I'm really glad I did so. It's so great to connect with all you hand madenites (<-- ??) from around the world. If you haven't seen me on Etsy, I'm the guy who makes wallets and bags out of used bicycle tire tubes. I just started making these about 3 months ago and I've had a lot of local success so far and I definitely want to expand. I also just started writing a blog that focuses on inspiring the and developing the creative ability in others. The main theme is solving problems with sustainability and upcycling in mind. Each article I post is a DIY article that I'll be publishing each week. This week being the 4th week of my challenge, I turned an old blender in to a lamp for my nightstand.

It turned out to be a really cool upcycling project that looks great and serves its purpose well for the price of $4.

The link is here: http://www.derekhowlett.com/2011/01/week-4-light-socket-blender-blender-lamp/

If you enjoy the article, please tweet, share and comment on it :).

A big thanks to Cat for letting me post blogs here. I hope to add lots of value to the upcycling community!

Hope everyone's 2011 is very prosperous and full of upcycling!

Derek Howlett