Tuesday 30 July 2013

Celebrating creative upcycling and crafts at Children's Scrapstores

rows of colourful paint bottles at bristol's children's scrapstore

When I was a child I loved nothing better than making stuff out of bits and bobs destined for the bin. I cannot count the number of cardboard box, tin foil, loo roll monsters I made when I was little. A pile of cardboard, string, glue and poster paints fired up my imagination and made me think ‘what shall I create today?’

Across the UK there are a network of Scraptores UK that continue the tradition of helping children to use their imaginations and create something with their hands. Each scrapstore is a treasure trove of clean scrap waste materials donated by business to be reused by local children in whatever way their creative urge takes them. The range of materials in any of the scrapstore changes each day and could include card, paper, textiles, paint, cork, wool, cardboard tubes, netting, gauze and many other things.

Scrapstores promote ‘play without rules’ and understand the importance of creative play in a child’s development. Every child needs to have the chance to squish clay, get covered in paint and look at a pile of scrap and think ‘what could I make with that?’ Scrapstores offer affordable craft materials to a wide range of bodies working in education, training, arts and culture, environment and conservation and projects involving children and young people. By taking familiar objects we all recognise from everyday use and encouraging children to use them in new and unusual ways, Scrapstores foster creative expression. The organisation has already helped out over 80,000 community groups by providing access to an exciting variety of materials.

Whilst local branches operate as separate entities, ScrapstoresUK was set up in an attempt to coordinate the work that individual scrapstores do across the UK. ScrapstoresUK acts as a champion for the movement and raises public awareness, facilitates fundraising and attempts to make each scrapstore run in an effective and efficient way. They also offer a useful online directory of all the scrapstores, so if you feel inspired to find out more, their website will have all the information you need to track down your local store.

All Scrapstores have different means of accessing their scrap materials. In some you need to pay an individual membership fee, at others you simply pay for the scrap you take on the day. Membership is generally offered to groups who work in creative play, care, educational and therapeutic settings. A number of Scrapstores also have shops open to the public selling good quality art and craft materials from glue to paintbrushes to complement the scrap.

colourful decorations in children's creative area in artrageous art supplies shop

We paid a visit to my local scrapstore which is based in Bristol to find out more about the work they do. The Bristol Children's Scrapstore is one of the oldest in the UK and has been open for over thirty years. To access the main scrap warehouse you need to be a member, but the Bristol branch also operates a craft supplies store called Artrageous Store which is open to the general public. Artrageous is a thriving business where you can find a wide selection of goods including art supplies such as glue, paint and modelling clay, they also stock puppets, wooden toys and musical instruments. Every other weekend Artrageous throws open its doors and invites children to come along and try out the craft materials. These ‘Super Saturday Sample Sessions’ encourage children to gain hands-on experience of creating a finished crafty item from scratch. The friendly staff encourage kids to get their hands on raffia, felt, glitter, crayons and lots of gloopy glue. All the proceeds from Artrageous support the Children’s Scrapstore and help to maintain local community projects working with local children.

young girl uses scissors to create easter themed craft at children's scrapstore

Alongside Artrageous is the adjoining Children’s Scrapstore warehouse. There are an abundance of crafty delights with large containers filled with netting, colourful gauzes, plastic tubes, surgical masks, piles of remote controls, reels of sparkling paper, mounds of foam shapes, towers of take-away cartons and even the odd shop mannequin. Each item was destined for landfill and through Scrapstores it can now find a new life in a creative project.

barrels of colourful scrap materials at children's scrapstore

The Scrapstores movement is something to be cherished and supported. By encouraging creative play, children learn communication skills, creativity and problem solving, team work and collaboration and a willingness to experiment. As with all charity projects, Scrapstores needs resources to keep functioning. Whether you donate scrap, volunteer your time or become a member, there are many ways to keep your nearest branch operating. Now I’ve discovered my local scrapstore, it would take a gang of foil covered, paint daubed, googly eyed cardboard box monsters to keep me away!

all photos were taken by my niece Jessica Chappell, you can see her blog here www.kingofthesheep.blogspot.co.uk

Scraptores UK

Bristol Children's Scrapstore

Artrageous Store

If you're interested in finding more interesting children's craft projects, you may like to follow my "Kids Crafts: gluing, cutting, sticking, painting" board on Pinterest...

Follow Pouch : blogging + craft's board Kids Crafts: gluing, cutting, sticking, painting on Pinterest.

I'm linking up with these lovely blogs:

Trash 2 Treasure over on www.coombemill.com

Brilliant Blog Posts over on honestmum.com

Share With Me over on www.letstalkmommy.com

What I'm Writing over on writingbubble.co.uk

Friday 19 July 2013

Breathing new life into old furniture

Since moving to a 1930s house, I'm determined to furnish it with quirky, one-off pieces rather than mass produced stuff. I've already blogged about my beautiful (bargain) dining table. Now I want to show you a cabinet and shelves I recently repurposed with help from my other half. I haven't done anything fancy or ground breaking with them...but it just shows how a simple lick of paint can breathe life back into something deemed a bit 'scruffy'.

In fact the small cabinet was considered so scruffy it was making its way to the municiple tip before my Mum and husband rescued it. My Mum approached the man who was just about to fling it into the 'wood' section and he happily handed it over. They bought it home for me and declared proudly that they had 'bought me a present'. Now, I know lots of people would be a bit annoyed about their presents coming from a waste-sorting centre, but my family know me better than that...

My husband sanded it down and chiselled off the yucky cork matting which was glued to the top. It was then painted in an ivory shade and once dry, we put it in our conservatory. It's the perfect place for me to put my cup of tea and my daughter has filled it with her books. It's a sturdy, little multi-functional piece of furniture and I love it.

A few weeks back my Mum gave me a set of shelves. They had been hanging in her garage for years and were looking a bit unloved, but I could see they still had potential! We repeated the same process with the shelves as the cabinet, sanded it down and a coat of ivory paint to spruce them up a bit. They now hang in our bathroom and keep all our toiletry gubbins tidy.

Even Mr Bump is amazed by the transformation!


Since writing this blog post I have watched the first episode of "Kirstie's Fill Your House For Free". I wanted to write a quick update. I've always been keen on getting my hands on furniture for free or at a bargain price. I've been using Freecycle for years and often scour Ebay and Gumtree for second hand items for our house. I had a quick look on Twitter after the first episode had aired and there was alot of cynicism and negativity. Many people were saying the items aren't truly 'free' if you have to use power tools, paint and the skills of top designers to alter them. But I think that misses the point. This is telly-land after all and lots of these shows are based on the 'big reveal' at the end. Even by employing designers, there was nothing on the show that the average Joe couldn't replicate. Well, maybe sawing an iron bath in half with an angle grinder isn't for everyone...but most of it was pretty do-able. Some basic DIY and a bit of elbow grease is all you need to start filling your home with quirky, one-off pieces. I think any show that encourages people to re-use rather than buy new is good in my books.

What I do hope this show encourages, is not just getting stuff off freecycle etc...I hope it encourages people to donate to freecyle, charity shops, local recycling projects. We need people to think twice about taking old furniture to the tip. What's not to like about clearing your clutter via freecycle? People come and get stuff you don't want direct from your house - you don't have to lug it into the boot & drive to the local waste centre. And many charity shops & furniture projects collect items from your house for free.

In fact, after watching Kirstie's program, I was inspired to write to my local MP. I've been to our local waste recycling centre with garden waste on a number of occasions and seen wonderful pieces of furniture being chucked into the wood section. On one occasion a perfectly usuable cabinet was thrown away & I approached a member of staff to ask if I could have it. I was told that staff are not allowed to pull things out of the containers because they will get sacked for 'theft'. I think it's awful that my local council does not seem to want to send less waste to landfill. It's actively discouraging the reuse of furniture and encouraging more waste. It's a case of trying to join up the people who want to get rid of stuff with the people who want to reuse the stuff.

I'm still awaiting a response from my MP, I'll keep you posted......

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Personalised wedding cushion

I love hand sewing. I love the rhythm of sewing with needle and thread, I find it very relaxing. I've been using blanket stitch for quite a few years on my rabbits and owls. To be honest, I was getting a bit bored with blanket stitch and I wanted to learn new techniques.
I've always been a fan of embroidered handwriting, so I wanted to give it a whirl. I looked at various blog posts and different tutorials for creating stitched handwriting and then I made a start with a few samples. I have to say, I'm completely hooked.

personalised handmade wedding cushion with vintage fabric hearts and embroidery

I wanted to practise more by creating gifts for people I know. So I created this personalised cushion for friends of ours who got married last year. We were moving house at the time they got married, so things were too hectic for me to create a handmade gift. I always had an idea in my head for creating a unique gift for them, but we needed to be settled in our new home before I could complete it. So this cushion turned into an anniversary gift which I gave to my friend a few weeks ago. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. I love the font and the vintage fabric used for the hearts is really pretty. I'm still hooked on hand sewing writing, I'm working on a cushion for my daughter and a few other ideas...so watch this space for more photos!
personalised handmade wedding cushion with vintage fabric hearts and embroidery
personalised handmade wedding cushion with vintage fabric hearts and embroidery
personalised handmade wedding cushion with vintage fabric hearts and embroidery

Monday 1 July 2013

vintage love: John Lewis sewing needles

Usually, when I acquire a vintage item, I don't know its back story or "provenance". This isn't the case with this set of John Lewis Gold Eyed Needles. My Grandmother gave them to me a few years ago. As she passed them over, she told me that she'd purchased them from John Lewis in London during World War II. She was stationed there during the conflict when she was a member of the Women's Voluntary Service.
vintage John Lewis Gold Eyed Needles london blitz WW2
It seems something of a miracle that I now own something that survived the Blitz. The packet is only just holding itself together, but that's hardly surprising considering it was bought over 70 years ago.
During the war the East End of London was worst hit, but the West End also suffered many bombing raids. Oxford Street took a terrible hit in 1940 and many iconic stores were badly damaged. Yet John Lewis reopened a small section of its Oxford Street store just three weeks after the building had been set ablaze by incendiary devices. You can read more about the history behind the Blitz and Oxford street in this interesting online article.
vintage John Lewis Gold Eyed Needles london blitz WW2
vintage John Lewis Gold Eyed Needles london blitz WW2
Below is a photo of my 20 year old Grandmother in her WVS uniform. She's now 93 and isn't able to sew due to her age and ill health. But she was an excellent seamstress and I've seen many of the blouses and dresses she created. Her generation made clothes because they had to, if you wanted the latest dress, most people couldn't afford it, so they had to run up something themselves. my Grandmother has had a lifetime of thriftiness, the 'make do and mend' spirit of the war has stayed with her to this day.

If you'd like to see more retro goodies, head on over to my "Vintage Finds" board over on Pinterest...

Follow Pouch : blogging + craft's board My Vintage Finds on Pinterest.


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