Archive for the "reverse this" category

What can I reuse or recycle to make attractive garden edging?

Carmen from South Africa has sent an email asking:

What can I reuse/recycle to make attractive garden edging?

I’ve always been quite taken with the idea of wine bottles for garden edging (and an item on my long, long to-do list is to try making a raised bed on the same principle).

For a more rustic look, you should mimic the commercial bamboo edging using offcuts from local trees – sticks and branches about 2-5cm (1-2inches) in diameter that are too small to bother burning but too big for composting. If you want them all to stay in a neat line, you could nail them to a thin batten; else, just let the soil hold them in place.

I’ve seen some edging made from old ceramic tiles too but I’m not sure how they were supported – any ideas?

Any other suggestions?

What can I reuse or recycle to make a bird bath?

Annetta has emailed with two great questions. Here’s the first:

Any ideas on making a bird bath out of recycled [things from] around the house?

I think it depends on whether you want something pretty, quirky or just something practical for the birds to use, looks be damned. I’d love to hear ideas for all three, personally!

I love old ceramic basins outside – not just the de rigeur belfast sink planter but bathroom ones with ivy or another climber creeping their way up around the pedestal and taps too. With a well-fitting plug, that would work well as a bird bath.

A big old steel wok could be upcycled into one too – it would need a base if it was a round-bottomed one, but I’m sure that could be fashioned fairly easily from some scrap wood (or branches). I’d imagine it might need some protection from the water/the elements – would painting it with metal paint work/be bird friendly?

Staying in the kitchen, an old pottery mixing bowl or the like would be about the right size. We sometimes crack soup bowls in a way that we wouldn’t want to use them for cooking any more but they are still be water-tight enough for underneath plant pots (especially with a little slick of non-foodsafe sealant up the crack) — using the same sealant, a mixing bowl might be watertight enough to be a cute, quirky bird bath.

So that’s a few ideas – has anyone got any other suggestions?

I’ve been a bit lazy really, just suggested things that are already bird bath size/shaped — any creative suggestions for making them other things?

How can I reuse/recycle foil bag linings to make a solar cooker or the like?

We’ve had an email from long-time commenter Melinda:

I’ve recently been struck with the foil linings of snack bags, and even dog food bags. Has anyone used these to create something solar, such as a cooker? What items have been put to solar use and how?

Making a solar cooker is on my to-do list for this year but I’ve not done it yet (and probably missed the hottest, sun-powered days – doh!) so I can’t advice on that. Anyone else got any experience making those? I was probably going to make something like this cardboard one to start with.

I also wonder if they’d be useful as soft mirrors behind plants, to reflect a bit of the light to the non-sunny side of the plant — a similar idea but, hopefully, without the cooking!

Any suggestions or tips for Melinda? Or any other solar related ideas?

Any advice for making a mosiac out of broken ceramics?

Leo emailed to ask:

Hi, your website is great. I’m interested in reusing broken ceramics, terracotta tiles, stone etc. to do a floor mosaic. Do you have any advice about installing this, e.g. cheap or recyclable adhesive, mortar etc.?

The only time I’ve make a “crazy” tile mosiac, I had some normal tile adhesive and grout leftover from a project so just used that. Has anyone else used anything else?

And, while Leo doesn’t explicitly ask for it, anyone got any other advice for building such a mosiac recycling and upcycling various things?

(Photo by stay4while)

Upcycling clothing: How can I upcycle/revamp a vest top (tank top)?

Those who follow my simple/DIY living blog The Really Good Life as well as Recycle This will know that I’m doing a clothes rationing exercise in 2011. For those that don’t know, I’ve limited myself to buying a maximum of 12 items of clothing – be it brand new or second-hand – across the year. I didn’t think an outright “buy no clothes in 2011” ban would be realistic due to the gaps in my current wardrobe (no smart clothes, few jumpers that fit) or because of wear and tear throughout the year — but as it happens, since I implemented my quota and got incredibly conscious about using up my allowance, I’ve not bought anything at all so far.

I do keep getting flashes of “something new would be nice”. Since the start of the challenge, I’ve regularly done exercises to “shop from my wardrobe” — sorting through my existing shirts or tops to remind myself what I’ve got, what fits, what needs repairing and mentally linking items together into outfits. But by the end of winter, I was still getting a bit bored of the few jumpers/hoodies I own (especially as the hoodies are very same-y) and now, after a warmer than expected Spring, I’m already getting a little tired of my t-shirts.

Then at the weekend, I spotted a how-to which started my mind cogs working. In that tutorial they used doilies to make cute short sleeves/shoulder accents for vest tops (aka sleeveless shirt, tank top, singlet, or camisole – the outerwear, t-shirt like version rather than underwear). I’m not sure I’m a doily type of girl but I have a number of cute (or even just plain but nice coloured) vest tops that would be made considerably more wearable with the addition of some sleeves, new straps or a little more support/coverage around the cleavage area. (I usually wear the vest tops underneath other tops or shirts to disguise these defects but when it’s warm, I don’t want to wear multiple layers.)

So I started looking around for some other vest top revamp ideas. I found some more ideas for adding mini sleeves onto vest tops; I could combine two vests – making sleeves, a length extension and a boob-cover up from one all sewn onto the other. There are also the usual ideas for hiding stains or embellishing plain tops too, to add more excitement to the festivities.

Before I go snip happy with my pinking shears, I’d love to hear more ideas though – have you revamped any vest tops into something more covering or just something fresh and new? Have you seen any how-tos or inspirational ideas?