Tag Archives: upcycling

Recycled Milk Containers

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It started off with milk containers, paint and a pallet. To be fair, paint and pallets are at the bottom of most of Julia’s projects.

I went to the Mencap garden with Julia last Friday to photograph her latest project.

Obtain some milk containers, making sure they are the same size, as this makes things easier. Cut the bottoms off, paint them and mount them upside down in a pallet (a batten through the handles helps), fill with potting compost and plant things in them.

Then make sure you keep them watered.We also had tea and biscuits. I like Fig Rolls: they remind me of visiting ancient aunts when I was a youngster. Some of them were fearsome, but the Fig Rolls generally made up for it. Time, as always, lends enchantment to the view, and I remember the biscuits more than the feeling of being found too frivolous.

They were, of course, of the generation that thought I’d look better up a chimney, though to be fair to them they had left school around the age of twelve and, mostly, worked in cotton mills all their lives. They tended not to marry, as the supply of husbands had been seriously depleted in the years between 1914 and 1918.

What with the Great War, the Great Depression, the death of the cotton industry and the Second World War, they didn’t have an easy time of it.

It’s made quite a good planter now it’s finished, though I expect to be asked about automatic watering systems next.

Upcycling

Julia had an old bike abandoned by the gardens. It lacked a few bits, but she’s a resourceful woman. With the addition of pallets, stakes, flower baskets and the remains of a bird feeder pole she has managed to produce a talking point. You might even call it a garden feature.

This upcycling is certainly the only cycling we’ve done in the last thirty years.

She’s been working me hard tonight, preparing for the Mencap Open Day so this is it for today. As usual, I have plenty of good intentions but have come up short on execution.

Tomorrow I will try harder.

Paint, Autumn Colour and Upcycling

Despite my desire to do something different I’ve drifted back to the garden. The pictures are taken and the temptation to use them is too great to resist. The top picture shows part of the bookshelf. They will not be short of reading material, though they may short of light to read by. Despite being near both a school and a lamp post the gardens have no power, which could be a problem as time goes on. It seems that as the winter progresses, the number of attendees falls.

At least the broken window won’t be a problem, though it did cost £70 to fix it in the end. We weren’t able to dismantle it ourselves to fit the new glass so we had to call the professionals in.

Painting is going well, with multi-coloured panels (depending on available paint) cheering the place up. The stationery trays (which were fruit boxes last week when Julia got them from the grocer on the market) were painted using the same system. I wonder if I should tick “upcycling” as a category, or if that might be a bit too grand to describe painting three boxes with left over paint.

Note the cake stand. Julia found it in a school bag that had been dumped in the school skip, with other lost property. She has an affinity for cake stands, and we have several at home, though we rarely use them, as we aren’t that sophisticated. And I’d rather just cut it and eat it instead of showing it of on a double-decker plate.

The library shelves are looking fuller now, with a number of the titles looking familiar. I’m sure I used to have copies of those books, I think, before I realise…

I may go for “upcycling”, considering the planter is a re-used litter bin striped with bits of window blind.

Planters

Julia’s group has finished painting the metal bins so they now have a fine selection of planters on the verandah. There’s a fig in one, a conifer in another and a strange combination of Echeveria Duchess of Nuremberg, thyme and chives in a third. Echeveria and thyme are fine but I have my reservation about the chives. Time will tell.

“Those slate chippings look familiar.” I said, vaguely remembering she’d mentioned them last week.

“They’ve been on the patio for years,” she replied,”you weren’t using them.”

Wives don’t understand the concept of keeping things in case they come in useful later.

 

They aren’t just a garden task, they have provided a useful art and design project too.

She has been given some wooden bins too. The school has made some into trough planters and that’s Julia’s plan too. All we need to do is get the screws out of the hinges. Eight screws. Eight tight screws. Then we need to shorten them and dismantle the doors to re-use them as ends.

It sounds so simple…

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Beeston, Books and a Butterfly

I fell asleep in the car this morning. Fortunately I was in a car park. Julia. meanwhile, was at a meeting in the building attached to the car park. She was having similar trouble in keeping awake.

While she was being trained (I wish them luck – I’ve not managed to train her despite many years of effort), I went for a walk round Beeston. It’s a pleasant place, even in the rain, with a statue of a bee man, a cheap bookshop, an Oxfam bookshop and quite a few charity shops. The Sue Ryder shop has re-branded itself as a vintage and retro shop. That seems to mean it has a lot of old brown furniture.

I’ve been watching Money for Nothing on TV. The presenter goes round tips grabbing people as they throw things out and commissioning various artist/designers to make things from them. She pays them between £200 and £500 to convert the tat then sells it to specialist shops (usually making £50 – £200 profit). Goodness knows what the shops charge.

Apart from being envious of people who charge that sort of money with a straight face, I’m telling you this because the programme seems to take a lot of unsalable brown furniture, paint it and get big money for it. If you need any of it to start making a fortune try the Sue Ryder shop in Beeston.

Call me cynical if you like, but it all strikes me as a modern version of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Everybody in the trade is happy slapping paint about and charging £500 for a £15 piece of furniture. But just let one small child ask why people don’t just paint their own…

Anyway, enough about con tricks perpetrated on people with more money than sense, let’s talk about butterflies.

When we arrived home Julia had a good look at the plants in the front garden. There, sheltering from the wind, was a Small Copper. They are common and widespread according to the books but I’ve never seen that many of them and this is the first I’ve seen in our garden. It’s also the only one I’ve ever photographed, as the previous one was pictured by Julia as it rested on my hand.

Apparently the three white spots on the lower wings are an aberration, as listed on the website. Proper naturalists are interested in things like that.

As for the books I mentioned earlier, I limited myself to seven. This includes a book of historical craft projects and a cheap book about butterflies. These are both for Julia, so I don’t feel so bad about the others, which will be revealed in due course.

 

 

The tumult and the shouting dies

Last night was the peak of our current workload, with just two more weeks to go before the school holidays create a lull. All the other groups that are coming are well within the boundaries of what our equipment can cope with (we ran out of forks last night for some reason – I know we used to have over 40 but don’t know whey we only have 32 now) and we’re quite looking forward to it.

It’s just after lunch and, having done part of the clearing last night, I’m still waiting for the assistance I was promised. That’s about par for the course, and that, if only you knew it, is a very appropriate expression. In case you are confused, the farmer has gone to play golf (hence the “par”), and when he does that the farm staff all regard it as an excuse to have a holiday. Seems like me and Julia are the only idiots left working.

So I’m relaxing with a bit of Kipling, refusing to do the old music hall joke, and contemplating the next hour of washing up.

It’s amazing how much debris a BBQ generates, and how much greasy dirt lurks in corners. I’m also surprised (aghast may be better) at the various places people leave their discarded plates, cans and glasses. At least the water butts were full after a stiffish cloudburst earlier on in the day. That means people don’t tend to treat them as rubbish bins, which has happened at previous events.

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Banana, sugar, Mars bar = calorie overload and horrendous time washing up!

We used compostable paper plates so we could show off our green credentials. I’m not sure whether this is better than using our clapped out selection of second hand plates (or “upcycled crockery” as we also call it) but it did save on washing up. One of our helpers (and I use the term loosely) decided to also hand out non-compostable ones then made herself scarce when it came time to sort through the used plates and separate the two sorts.

It’s been an active morning (apart from one of the community gardeners who appeared to be impersonating a scarecrow) with egg collecting, pig visiting and upcycling milk containers. You can see some of this on our Twitter page (@QuercusCommy) or have a look at these photos.

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Upcycled milk carton

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Pigs are happier now it’s cooler

Talking of Twitter , we now have just over 900 followers – it was 902 but now it’s 901. Someone unfollowed me, but when you think I accumulated around 100 followers last week (no I don’t know how) it’s hardly surprising that some go. Many of them are about music, youth or “love” so I’m torn by indecisiveness now. Ddo I take the easy way out and keep pressing on to the magic 1,000? Or do I start paring my followers back until I only have ones that I consider to be a good fit?