Sunday, November 18, 2012

Recycled Soda Bottle Planter

I have two terribly mischievous kitties. And often my kitchen floor looks something like this:

They are indiscriminate plant killers. So far my cats have destroyed  dieffenbachia, dracaena, pothos, philodendron, schefflera, peace lily,  african violet, geraniums, and spider plants without remorse. This image is my poor begonia.  We have been having a 3 year battle over the life of my poor little palm. Sometimes they eat them, sometimes they sleep in them, sometimes they bat them apart, but most often, they just lay down next to the pot, knocking it off the table. I am not completely sure, but I do think they put forth their best feline efforts at maximizing the inconvenience factor.   They seem to wait until I have finally gotten my daughter to bed and just as she drifts off . . . SMASH!  Too late to make a quick dash to the store, I scramble to save the poor helpless broken root systems. 

So here are some of my late night potting solutions:

You will need
 an empty 1 or 2 liter bottle
a pair of scissors
a knife
5 minutes

The bottom of a 2 liter makes for an excellent plant saucer:

If you need a whole pot, start by unwrapping an empty 2 liter.  I marked in sharpie where I usually cut to make a pot.  

Cut it into 3 pieces.  The top with the spout, the middle body, and the bottom saucer.  Be sure you do not leave any sharp spots or rough edges. 

 Flip the top upside down into the body.

Slide the bottom saucer into the body underneath the drain spout. 

You now have a makeshift flower pot.  The body cylinder stabilizes the unit and prevents tipping while the pour spout allows the soil to drain and the saucer collects run off.  If you are up to it, you can decorate the outside body of the flower pot with decoupage or paper mache for a more permanent potting solution.

OR. . .

 If you have a 1liter of Mountain Dew, cut the bottle again into 3 parts, but this time, the center is disposable.  

Just flip the top upside down into the bottom saucer again, but you don't need the center cylinder to stabilize the Mountain Dew bottle because it is designed a little differently and is stable enough like this.

For a Pepsi brand pot, I wrapped the 2 liter pot back up in it's original wrapper to shade the roots.  I recommend other forms of decoration, unless bachelor chic is all the rage where you live. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

DIY Upcycled Keepsakes Button Necklace

When my great grandmother passed away, almost 20 years ago, she left me a collection of antique and vintage buttons.  Since then the collection has grown, but I could never quite figure out what to do with hundreds of slightly mismatched buttons.  I kept threatening to throw them away, but they were just too pretty. So I hung onto them hoping and hoping to find a use for all these fantastic buttons. I finally figured it out.

All you really need is that old jar of buttons, a pair of scissors, a safety pin, and 2 long stands  of different colored hemp cut to about 60-65 inches in length.  If you don't already have a spare buttons jar, there are many great places to pick them up very inexpensively.  Local craft shows, antique stores, antique malls, etc.  If you live near Lansing, Michigan you should check out the Little Red School House for vintage crafting supplies, buttons, and odds and ends.

Step 1
 Lay the strands of hemp out side by side and fold it in half. Tie a knot in the strands of hemp so they are held together  forming a loop at the end.   You want the loop to fit a four hole button in your collection. This will be half of your button hole clasp. Using your index finger to gauge the width usually works pretty well for me.

Step 2
Use the safety pin to secure the your hemp strands to something steady. 

Step 3
 I wrote this in giant blue letters so you can refer back to it as needed. 
1.) Fold the left strand (red) over the base strands and under the right strand (blue). Bring the right strand (blue) under the base strands  and then up and over the left strand (red). Tighten the knot.
2.)Then fold the right strand (blue) over the base strands and under the left strand (red). Bring the left strand (red) under the base strands and then up and over the right strand (blue). Tighten the second knot.

(If these images are too hard to follow, Beadage has some pretty easy to follow illustrations.)

Step 4
Now reverse your colors. Bring the outside over the base strands into the center.

Step 5
Repeat the knots from above using your new outside color.  Use a pen or pencil to space your knots so they create a loose weave. Put the pen against the last set of knots and pull your new knots tight against it. Then switch your inside/outside strands again.  

Step 6
After your third pair of knots,  string a button onto your base strands (which will be the original outside color). And repeat the process again using a pen to space your knots and reversing colors each time. Every third pair of knots, add another button. Continue knotting and stringing until your necklace is the desired length.  I left mine at about 15 inches for a choker length.  

Step 7
Like any good craft show, after 5 minutes of work I happen to pull out an already finished necklace, leaving this with a deceptively quick and simple appeal. You keep going while I stand here and talk about something completely unrelated . . .suddenly skip to the end. . . No really, I'm waiting for you. . .

String all four strands through a medium sized (1.5 cm should work very well if you used your index finger as a guide for the hole size) four hole button. Make sure your button fits through your loops easily enough to do it once you knot the end.  Draw all four strands together and tie off the end.  

The original necklace can be viewed at

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Artist John Gilchrist East Haddam, CT

My purpose in endeavoring to create and maintain a blog is to take a moment to promote local artists and small businesses. I want to share other creative works of recycling madness. At art shows and craft fairs I have always found myself drawn to the creativity of people who take something ordinary and give it life. I am inspired by those artists and craftsmen with the ability to look at something mundane, something used over and over every day to a single purpose and instead see something unique and full of life. Today, I am going to take a moment to examine the work of John Gilchrist, a Connecticut based artist.

I first found the work of John Gilchrist at his Etsy shop, Gilsgarden - Reuse of Misdirected Flatware and had to smile at the thought of all the poor misguided flatware that would be forcibly reeducated that they may take on a new profession. I wonder if he had the same vision of poorly behaved forks and knives running amok among the table settings when he wrote that tagline.

Gilchrist lives in East Haddam, Connecticut which he describes as “a small town along the Connecticut river.” He boasts “East Haddam is home to many creative and talented people, The Goodspeed Opera House and Gillette Castle (home of William Gillette, who portrayed Sherlock Holmes for many many years).” Caught in the mighty Webs of Inter, I decided to Google images of East Haddam to see if my imagination was on the right track. Indeed Gilette Castle stands an absolutely stunning contrast against the surrounding trees. The Goodspeed Opera house was built right on the river in 1876 and is still in use today! John Gilchrist has been welding for more than 30 years and working as an IT professional for 20.

Asked to describe his inspiration to make his fantastic creations out of flatware and he spoke immediately of his family. “The new world economic situation and, of course, having young children has brought out the artsy part of me. I have 9year old twins, a boy and a girl, as well as two grandsons. They keep my imagination alive.” He says he began looking at the stainless flatware in a new way when his “wife got new flatware and was ready to toss out the old.” Seeing it just sitting on the table he saw “crossed knives that reminded me of my daughter's love of dragon flies . . . The knives looked like dragon fly wings! I saw the shapes of hummingbirds, flowers, and dragons in those cast out forks, knives, and spoons. That was in September of 2011 and since then I've been challenged to make Don Quixote on his horse, a bat and an alpaca.”

It seems his art had a pretty normal beginning. First making things for himself, then family and friends.  Next came tag sales, flea markets, then Etsy in June of 2012. He was also asked to be a "founding member of the East Haddam Art League." The East Haddam Art League is a community based project designed to educate, facilitate and inspire the expression of creative visual arts in the area. Artists helping to inspire other artists and brighten the community.  As things have progressed, Gilchrist continues to "imagine new sculptures and get many suggestions and requests."  "I’ve built up a bit of an inventory and now have some of my art displayed at CONNfetti in New London, CT and Raspberry Junction in Niantic, CT.”  Both CONNfetti and Raspberry Junction are stores dedicated to selling products made my local artists and craftsmen.

Every artist has an amusing anecdote or 20 to go with a piece they have created.  Sometimes it is a minor mishap, sometimes a major one, and in this case it an interesting success story for a very happy looking little bug.  “I saw a praying mantis in some flatware I had just gotten and made one, put it on ETSY and it sold right away … I had a few more of the same type flatware so I made a few more praying mantises and they sold quickly (5 in a matter of weeks. I searched for more similar flatware and found some and made a few more (they’re gone). It’s my biggest seller on ETSY so far. I have one more left and it’s on exhibit at a local library until 11/17, then off to a few craft fairs and maybe back to ETSY. Last time I took a praying mantis off of ETSY for a craft fair it didn’t sell, so back onto ETSY it went and sold within 20 minutes. I was very surprised.”

Visit Gilsgarden on Etsy to see what happens when flatware misbehaves. 

Remember when you go out Christmas shopping this year, if you want a memorable, one of a kind, American made gift, there is a small business looking to make you something unforgettable. Promote quality craftsmanship & community, shop small business.

Friday, November 9, 2012


My personal efforts at recycling and upcycling:

 Barbie Shoes:
 Let's Go Fishing:
 Trivial Pursuit:

You can visit my shops at:

Pen Clips

My mother's birthday is January first and i have of course bought her a calendar every single year since my grandmother passed that task on to me. In recent years, when I would visit my mom, she would always have lost her pen so I decided to make a clip that never needed to be removed from her calendar. Something long enough to write with but pretty enough that she would leave it up. Then I made one for myself and it has come in quite handy on a daily to weekly basis. 

Now you have the chance to never lose your pen again! This OOAK ocean themed pen clip has a variety of shades of aqua blues and greens. It is made from a hemp cord with glass beads. On one end there is a cluster of dyed shell beads and on the other a cluster of emerald green dangles. Handy enough to keep track of your pens, and pretty enough show off.

Attach the pen clip, slide in your pen, and never have to hunt your pen down again! The cord is long enough to write with without removing it from your calendar or planner (21.5 inches in length from the pen to the clip). Clip it to your purse, your planner, calendar, spiral note book, or journal. Anything that has a tab or slot or binding to which it can be safely fastened. Then when the receptionist says "do you have a pen handy?" The answer will always be yes.
The aqua blue/green pen clip is available for sale at This particular piece uses some upcycled/recycled components along with new.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

T.V.'s made in America

One of my biggest complaints is people sitting on their Couch (made in Pakistan) watching their t.v. (made in China) in their pajamas (made in Vietnam) to complain about their jobs being shipped over seas.  Well now it is possible to get a made in American television  .  You can visit the Element Electronics website to learn more about their products