After graduating high school I went abroad for over a decade and then came back home to marry the boy next door. After working in the corperate surroundings and getting burnt out I then took a job working in a coffee shop as a barrista. I absolutely loved it! The aroma of the exotic blends that I served, the fabulous people that I served, came to know and am still friends with, the unique opportunity that I was given to step outside of the box and learn new things is a memory that I hold dear and near. Working in the cafe was fun and at the end of the day when I would sweep the floor there would be a small mound of coffee beans and although I knew we couldn't serve them again, I just felt it a waste to toss them in the trash. So I rinsed them off, dried them out and saved them. They looked like natural organic beads to me, so I bought a Dremel and drilled little holes in them and made coffee bean jewelry that, luckily, the owner allowed me to sell in the shop.
Also we had a plethora of Burlap bags that the coffee beans came in and although the owner donated them to several elementary schools (that used them for the kids to do races in) and a local church (that used them to decorate a playroom) there were many bags to go around. So I started taking them home and that's how my Burlap Covered Boxes came along, which I also sold in the Coffee shop. I have made other goodies from 'throw-aways' at the coffee shop: some purses crafted from plastic caps, and how about a lamp shade made from used tea bags!
I quickly learned about Etsy.com from some of my customers at the coffee shop. They suggested that I think big, they thought that I should get out there and sell my creations to a larger audience, they encouraged me to take step outside of my comfort zone and after a while I decided to take the plunge and put my work out there!
I have always been a fan of creating as little waste as possible, teaching my Boy Scouts how to be thrifty. Challenging them to see how much waste could be minimized with a little effort opened my eyes even more! We would come up with crazy ways to save and reuse items like straws and cupcake liners. We would learn that not taking utensils on a camp out not only forced us to think outside of the box and use a Ziploc bag as a storage container, then a bowl and then a place to store trash to take home to throw away - but we even saved the water and soap that would have been used for clean up! I stretched that idea much more in my personal life so, for example, when I rinsed those coffee beans I would save the water and use it to rinse the rags with and then mop the floors with. Sometimes I could get pretty extreme with my thriftiness! lol. Even now I get a chuckle when I see my scouts eating an orange on a camp out and then using the halved rind as a bowl for his Raman noodles! My son, at 19, will still do upcyclable things like cut open the empty cereal box and use it as a sketch pad or painters palette or cut it half way down and use it as drawer dividers!
One day I remembered about a 5 gallon pail that my dad, avid yard saler and treasure collector, had picked up at an estate sale for a couple of dollars. I dug it out and began playing. I would take apart the broken necklaces and create new pieces of jewelry.
Sometimes I would need to make a trip to a local craft store to pick up items needed for finishing touches like clasps and what-nots, but all in all it felt really good to recreate new pieces from what someone considered 'junk'. My ReCreationalArt shop on Etsy is a place for me to post these fun pieces that have been given a new life for other ladies to enjoy! Like the Bracelets and Necklaces made from computer transistors!
Soon after I decided that men should have a place to shop, too, seeing as I had come across several accessories for men (mainly with the donation of my mother-in-laws old jewelry box full of her husbands old tie bars and cuff links). So I opened a new shop: GentlemansEmporium on Etsy and have had so much fun researching the history and ever changing fashion of men's accessories and have a place to post these beautiful heirlooms that I had acquired and that my Dad still finds for me through estate sales and flea markets!
My new endeavor is my PennyBoperoo shop that I am working on. This is a place for me to be more whimsical. I love playing with felt and this is where I post my felty creations. I still try my best to minimize waste and am able to create pieces with scrap cuttings and much with felt that my Dad (and now I!) find at yard sales. I also use old stained T-shirts that have cute designs to use as focal points in many of those creations.
Thank you Rose so much for sharing with us your upcycled treasures! I am a firm believer in recycling and upcycling everything you possibly can and your art is such a wonderful example of putting that into practice. I personally love your Geek Chic Collection, your Burlap covered boxes, and your Coffee Bean work!! You can also find more on Rose's blog.
Edit: Oops. I hadn't had my coffee yet. Paige from Little White Chapel will be guest blogging her crafty tutorial in two weeks. Next week, Laura from I'm So Vintage on Etsy and her blog of the same name will be blogging about her secret garden & sharing some tips with us.