Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to school with the Barn of Opportunity

I am very excited to be an instructor this fall at the newly established Long Branch School of Maine.  When I learned of the plans for this new school in Bowdoinham from one of its owners, Pete Feeney, I was hoping that I could find a course to teach that would fit with the school's mission.  From the school's website: 

The Mission of Our School is to:
    - provide people with skills they need to live sustainably.
    - rekindle the skills and lifestyles of our heritage in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
    - provide people a unique and fulfilling experience that builds community and re-localizes our economy
    - incubate and grow businesses that support a local, sustainable economy. 

I thought about the Barn and the many fiber things that I have made using salvaged materials.  Nanette Giacoma, another of the school's owners was enthusiastic  about a three part class teaching three fiber crafts.  We talked details and timing and I am pleased to promote "Upcycling" Fiber, which begins October 6th and continues October 20th and November 3rd.  You'll make items that will fill your holiday gift list.  I picked a Thursday morning to meet so that the class can travel to the Barn to collect supplies.

Rag rugs, jean skirts and wool hats, totes and toys... sound fun?
I do hope you will sign up and help me fulfill my favorite part of the mission, the part about providing a fulfilling experience and building community.  I sure can't do that by myself.

Friday, August 26, 2011

reduce, reuse, recycle ...REPAIR!

I'm lovin' my forth "R" today.  The forth R in the R's of preserving our planet's resources being repair. (The fifth "R" by the way is RENT but that will be the focus of another day's adventure)  Today I went early to the Barn of Opportunity on a pure drop-off mission. No time nor intention to look around in the Gift Shop, nor chat with neighbors and friends. Not a minute to admire the tomatoes nor pet Tuckah.  In and Out, I said.  Yet I managed to spot these fine three ladies and bring them right home.  They had the typical rotted webbing on the seats and clearly the former owners feared they might fall through.
 I knew that I had this massive roll of new webbing from my friend Brigid (you remember her from this post, I'm sure). When she comments here I'm sure she will share where she got this roll.  Anyway, I was really inspired by necessity since I am hosting a bit of a backyard event tomorrow and need more seating.

 I was happy to discover that the straps were individually attached by this simple piece of metal on each end, popped into a hole in the aluminum, and that I could take apart the old straps and replace them with new ones without any tools at all. Well, I needed scissors to cut the webbing but that doesn't really count, does it?
 The webbing on the white chair was a bit more challenging but still only needed a screwdriver to take apart and repair.  I skipped the machine rivet and just slipped the screw through three layers of webbing.

You'll see I didn't replace ALL the straps that could have used replacement (did I mention the rush?) but I'm sure no one will fall through the seat on my watch.
The whole project took me an hour or so. And I'm feeling mighty proud of the results. Didn't make a dent in Brigid's webbing roll, but I do have a few more things to repair with this awesome stuff before I give the roll back.

When did we begin to think that the term "disposable" was a good thing? And how can we turn that around? I know that I often think, "It's so cheap to replace these!", but in this case, cheap is not good for the planet. I sometimes think that my time is more "valuable" than the replacement cost and that the quick and easy replacement purchase is the way to go vs. the time-consuming repair job, but I am working hard to battle that decision and think of the value of my resources and my resourcefulness for that matter.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Repair. and REAP the good feelings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Before you Recycle this week's news...

...dig into the newspaper box to the Maine Sunday Telegram from this past Sunday, Aug 14, and pull out section A.  On page 11 there is a big ol' coupon from Hannaford, offering $2 off any "Close to Home" produce item.  Yup, that means when you are in the produce section of Hannaford (we don't need to be there much at this time of year, do we? I admit I still need my avocados and bananas... I digress) you look carefully for the nifty stickers under the item labels for another label that says "Close to Home" which alerts you to the fact that that item was grown nearby.  I'm not an extreme couponer but $2 off gets my attention.  And this time I used it to buy a beloved product: organic arugula grown 100 yards from my front door. Really.
 People know I love to exaggerate to make a good story but this time, when I say it's grown 100 yards from my front door, I am NOT exaggerating. I took this picture standing on my front step. That's my driveway, my lawn, my small patch of corn, berries and weeds, and beyond that, is the Locally Grown greens of loveliness. Maybe it's LESS than a 100 yards. I'm a football mother, I should know my yardage.
We love to watch the farmers till, fertilize, sculpt, plant, weed and harvest this product.  The bummer is that our local Brunswick Hannaford doesn't carry it consistently. I found this box on my way through Lewiston. So you'll need add the price of a drive to Lewiston or Gardiner to your price.  Normally $2.99, but for the coupon clippin' woman from Bowdoinham? .99. Not bad.
You can read an outdated but nice article about this farm here.

Now, what can I make out of that plastic box it comes in?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Group Tackles "How-To" books

My book group at the Bowdoinham Public Library is called Stitch and Pitch. We knit (or not) and pitch our favorite reads from the preceding month.  Instead of assigning a particular title, we agree on a theme and everyone reads whatever they want (or not) on that theme (or not).  We pride ourselves on being the guilt-free book group.  July's book theme was "How-To Books".  We were encouraged to try something new learned from a book. I don't need much encouragement to make a project from a book.  I've been squirreling away two new library books and I made a project from each of them.  The first is called The Perfect Handmade Bag by Clare Youngs.  It's got great recycled and repurposed fabric ideas and snappy designs for handbags and purses.  I wanted to start with the simple "Fold-up Shopper".  You know I am psycho about avoiding the plastic bag, so I try to carry handy, good-looking fabric bags and always have one "at the ready".  I thought this shopper would make a great teacher gift or a have-on-hand gift for ya-never-know-who.  I used a recycled sheet I lifted from Bin #1 at the Barn for the base fabric and added some new fabric with pretty rainbow kale on it. Thanks to my friend Deborah who made one along with me and figured where the pattern maker had made a small but annoying mistake.  If anyone takes the book out of the library, I'll be sure to share Deborah's simple correction.

 The next book I read is called The Reporposed Library by Lisa Occipinti.  If you came to the "Treasures from the Library Attic" booth at last year's Artisan Guild Show, you know that this book was made for me. I'm pretty excited when I can find a use for old books that don't sell at our used book sale.  This book contains 33 projects.  Several were familiar, and others I had never seen before.  I had recently received a slew of Reader's Digest Condensed Books and wanted to try my hand at using them for a book shelf shown in the book.  Please believe me when I say that condensed books DO NOT sell at the book sale and we end up hauling them to the Barn of Opportunity.  They do however, make lovely journal covers and, this time, a nifty shelf.  A trip to the hardware store for "mending plates" (who knew?), glue all around the pages, cut out a bit of pages and secure three books together end to end.

The brackets to hold the shelf were the fun part. When the banister in the Coombs School building was recently replaced, some old handsome (broken) metal supports were replaced.  Kevin Prout repaired them (solder?) and graciously let me have a few.

My plan is to hang this somewhere in the building so that we can all continue to admire these old metal pieces.

If a few of my book group pals would allow me to share, I'll post some pictures of their projects and inspiring books. Just say the word, women. We witnessed jam, crocheting, an impressive garden trellis, an RV waste management lesson, and a soldered pipe!  Please join us on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 in the library. August's theme: survival books.