Thursday, 30 April 2015

April Reuse-it Item: Books

Books aren't just for reading! In this month's Reuse-item blog post, our bloggers show a few interesting ways to reuse those old books that are cluttering up your house.

Source: Mod Podge Rocks
After my recent adventure at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, I still have comics on the brain. That's why I adore this craft for coasters found on the blog, Mod Podge Rocks, made from vintage comic book panels! Ignoring the fact that the blogger who shared the idea markets them as "crafts for men" (trust me, everyone will think they're cool!), this link explains very nicely how to do this super awesome craft. He uses metal outlet covers from the hardware store, but I'm sure repurposed cork board or ceramic would do just as nicely. Then all you need are an old book, comic or otherwise, and some Mod Podge, and you're set to Wham! Plomf! Kapow! your guests with your indisputably awesome taste. Holy stylin' coasters, Batman!


Source: Drifter and the Gypsy
Need some privacy or a secret place to store some valuables? Want to hide some items your house guests don't need to know about? The Drifter and the Gypsy blog proposes making a book with a storage compartment instead of buying organizers or baskets. A couple of tips: make sure to get a thick book and one that you will remember. Also, decorate it with scrapbook paper so it stands out to you.

Source: Make the Best Things 

No one ever seems to know what to do with their old books. They sit on shelves, collecting dust year after year. But never fear, we've got a solution!
Here's yet another creative way from, Make the Best Things blog, to spruce up the lights in your home by using book pages to make an attractive chandelier. Not only will remind you of your favourite stories every time you look at it, it will also be a nice addition to your decor.

Source: By Stephanie Lynn
Book pages are beautiful. At least I think so. When a story isn't so great and not worth passing along, the book pages are pretty and perfect for projects like Stephanie Lynn's rolled roses. She uses them for topping gifts and creating this beautiful rose "curled-wood" wreath. I plan on making some to trim my next hat!

Source: Todolwen

Sometimes I like just making stacks of old books as decoration with a candle or a string of lights over it because it looks cool, the candles smell good, and I have a hard time parting with books. However I also saw a really cool idea on the blog, Todolwen, that I plan on trying. Cut out pages from old books and make them into leaves, and make a book tree! See the awesome photo. Cut out any random assortment, or personalize it by using lines of prose you find particularly beautiful or compelling.

- Reuse Centre Blogger Team

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Battery Newman’s “Turn Me In” to an Eco Station debut

What can be learned about proper waste disposal from a singing battery? Well, when that singing battery is as awesome as Battery Newman, the star of the fun music video ‘Turn Me In’, you can learn a great a deal. Battery Newman sings in the style of another famous Newman – Randy Newman. His catchy song points out the importance of taking batteries and other household hazardous waste and electronics to an Eco Station for proper disposal or recycling.

The video is part of the City’s ‘Turn Them In’ Eco Stations campaign.  As spring has finally arrived (yay!) and Edmontonians are beginning their spring-cleaning and renovations,  this is the perfect time of year to get rid of all those waste items that are taking up room in your house or garage.  Household hazardous waste and electronics can be turned into an Eco Station for FREE! (Who doesn’t like that price?). These kinds of items include batteries, leftover paint, light bulbs, old computers, syringes and broken power tools.  Speaking of renovations, Eco Stations also accept renovation waste and bulky items too big to set out for collection (fees apply). Pop over to for a full list of items that are accepted at Eco Stations.

If you’re like me and the Battery Newman music video has inspired you to create and share your own waste reduction video (I mean how could you not be inspired by Battery Newman??)… Well you’re in luck! The site allows you to do just that! Upload your video on any waste reduction tip (reuse ideas perhaps?) to help Edmonton achieve the goal of keeping 90 per cent of household waste out of landfills. You can then get your friends and family to like and share your video. Have fun and remember… turn in your household hazardous waste!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Fantastically Fun Reuse Costume and Art Ideas at the Calgary Comic Expo!

I had a blast last week when I went out of town to attend the 10th anniversary Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo with a few of my friends, my second-ever Expo experience. For anyone unfamiliar with this type of event, it’s about the oddest, geekiest, most unique way to spend a weekend. Thousands of people converge on the Expo grounds over four days to mingle, shop, and interact with some of today’s hottest TV and film actors, industry leaders, and local artisans. It’s also the perfect place to show your love for your favourite characters through cosplay.

Phoenix Scroll Saw Art
Reused and repurposed items may not immediately come to mind when you think of science fiction and comic books, but there are two major ways that I saw reused items represented at this Expo. First, through the art and jewellery crafted by several of the artists. Steampunk aficionados crafted their items from things like old gears, clock hands, aviator goggles and pocket watches, to name a few.
I found art prints of animals made from twigs and leaves, mismatched strips of leather made into cool bracelets and bookmarks, and even Dungeons & Dragons dice upcycled into pendants and bracelets. My best discovery this year was an artist who transforms mundane bits of wood into jaw-dropping works of art with his two hands and a scroll saw. I almost brought home his incredibly detailed "Star Wars X-Wing v. TIE Fighter" vignette, but this elegant wolf’s head stole my heart (as shown in photo).

There was somebody in here!
The second way that items were visibly repurposed or reused at this event was through the cosplayers. At my first Expo, I had a vague notion that some might attend in costume, but I underestimated how passionate people can be. Some cosplayers come in professionally tailored costumes, but I’d say the majority of them seemed to be fashioned from everyday items that inspired individuals imagined as something more. Some of the best things I saw this year were: a Nerf gun painted bronze to be the perfect steampunk accessory; layered strings of pop can tabs made into a surprisingly convincing chainmail; corrugated plastic sheeting shaped just right to become Interstellar’s TARS robot; Queen of Hearts playing cards perfectly embellishing the collar of a Queen of Hearts gown; and a lady Captain America with the iconic shield painted onto her parasol.

I think what I enjoyed most about the Comic Expo was that there was evidence everywhere of what you can create from using your imagination. Just as the sci-fi and fantasy entertainment we celebrate wouldn't exist if someone hadn't dreamed it up, these types of repurposed works of art and cosplay would never be there for us to admire if someone didn't first study an everyday object and think, I wonder what I can do with that!

- Nichole (Volunteer)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Host Your Own Craft Night!

(My latest creation shared with our crafty gang)

In 2014, I had a plan to bring some amazing ladies together to craft once a week.

My initial idea was simply to give a bunch of friends a place to go away from home to share something we all enjoyed,  It was a roaring success! Over a year later, we are 10 members strong, have our own inside jokes and are planning our second crafty weekend away.

Our merry band of ladies is a mixed bunch of crafters of different occupations, tastes and skills. Meeting with them is always fun and inspiring. I would encourage anyone looking to be more creative to get some friends together and start your own craft night.

Amazing double knit hat by our resident knitting superstar Edith Arel (totally reversible with the reverse of this pattern on the inside)

Where to start?

Start small, friends will invite others and you could soon have a crowd on your hands.

Use technology to organize. Using social networking is a great way to invite people, let others know about time and location changes and who is coming along.

Benefits of starting your own Craft Night

Fight off those winter blues -  When snow is thick on the ground, having a weekly outing to look forward to is sure to keep your spirits up. Even for those who tend to hibernate when the temperatures drop.

Increased productivity - Regular meets help keep you on track, with each person eager to show off their latest completed project. No one wants to be left behind on a never ending project.

Sharing skills and Ideas - New crafts, new techniques or just a different way of approaching a project. Sharing with a group is a valuable resource for fresh ideas.

Recycling your supplies - Passing on unwanted or unused supplies to friends is both thrifty and friendly. Save money and help out your friends by having a swap bin at meets.

With so many reasons to meet up with friends, there's never been a better excuse to get out in your community and spread some crafty love.

Stay crafty Edmonton.

Emma (Volunteer)

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Homegrown Reuser: Jan Przysiezniak

There are a LOT of creative reusers in the Edmonton community and in Alberta! So I decided to profile a few of them for the Reuse-it Edmonton blog to learn their tips and tricks for reusing. First up is Jan Przysiezniak, who runs JellyParrot Trashcrafts. You might recognize him from his booth at the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market.

Who are you?
I'm Jan Przysiezniak. I run JellyParrot Trashcrafts. I make useful things (notebooks, belts, etc.) out of repurposed things (used paper, bicycle tires, etc.). I studied to be a scientist (neurobiology) but didn't want to write for a living. I've always had an interest in do-it-yourself recycling. Now it's how I make my living. My schooling and obsessive nature help with understanding of and working on details to make a sellable product. I sell my work at the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market. I do some yard work in the summer, for extra cash and to get outside.

I also make things like pedal-powered devices, lamps from found objects and bicycle parts, person-sized sculptures from bike parts, bags from truck tie-down straps, shower curtain rings from bicycle spokes, stringed instruments from found lumber, flutes from found electrical conduit, furniture and yard equipment from found lumber, etc.

I live in Edmonton, in the Bonnie Doon neighbourhood, in a shared rental townhouse. I don't own or drive a car. I cycle, walk, bus. I help people fix their bicycles at Edmonton Bicycle Commuters, on Monday nights. I'm vegetarian. I play recorder. I refuse to be part of the rat race. I like my frugal living.

What materials do you use and where do you get them?
I make journals from this:
- One-side-good paper, donated, or scavenged from recycling dumpsters.
- Vinyl records and their cardboard sleeves, donated.
- Miscellaneous boxboard and flat things for making journal covers, scavenged from my home recycling box or elsewhere.
- Clothes hangers, donated by my neighbourhood dry-cleaner (TODD cleaners).
- White glue, bought.

The belts contain this:
- Scrapped bicycle tires from Edmonton Bicycle Commuters (EBC) community bike shops, United Cycle, Velocity Cycle.
- Scrapped bicycle frame tubing, bottom-bracket lock rings, headset spacers, fender struts from EBC.
- Stainless steel nuts and bolts bought from Edmonton Nut & Bolt.
- Tremclad clear lacquer bought from Home Depot.
- Time on the bench grinder at EBC, in exchange for some volunteer work and the occasional new grindstone.

For other projects, I use the few scraps I've accumulated at home, or go looking for materials when I have a specific project in mind. Sometimes I find that it takes less time to make a part than to go out to buy it.

What is your favourite piece of work you have done and why?
My favourite piece was the most functional:
In 2012 I helped Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE) upgrage their hand-cranked apple crusher so it could be pedal-driven. Now it just races through bags and bags of apples. Ninety percent of the materials for the upgrade were reused/repurposed.

What inspired you to do this?
My inspiration was the need for OFRE to speed up their fruit processing.

Do you have any tips/ inspiring words to share to newbie reusers?
Reusers are already inspired.

What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
Keep doing what I'm doing, but more, and less boring.
Play more music.
Cycle out of town more often.
Keep living slow and never get sucked into the rat race.
Never retire.
Help save the world from humans, for future humans.

Where can we find you?
I sell my work at the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market, every Saturday, 8am-3pm.
I have no web site, but I can be reached at

- Michelle (volunteer)