Sunday, June 26, 2011

Upcycled Living Fair: My Three Favorite Things

This weekend I was so pleased to take part in the (1st annual) Upcycled Living Fair.  The Event was sponsored by The Grapevine, a unique marketplace in Downtown Greer, SC. The event was hosted at the lovely Poinsett West Gardens and benefitted Greer Relief.  There were so many talented artisans at the fair who were repurposing items that were likely headed to the landfill - I just have to share my three favorite things.

1. Sitting in the booth next to me, Jeanne of quiltsnquaints had a somewhat unnatural obsession with gloves (I tease, she is really quite creative).  This purse brought a smile to my face immediately and I downright giggled when I learned that the strap was actually made from the chain that you'll likely find inside your toilet's tank. She is also quite the collector of all things vintage.  I rather enjoyed listening to her share the story of each item in her booth.
2.  Then I headed over to Artistic Designs, I couldn't stay long though because I could have done some SERIOUS damage to my finances  if I had.  She had some wonderful bird baths and feeders made out of platters and cups/saucers, adorable pet beds and these pencil pots pictured.  The real beauty is apparent when you peek you inside:
She not only reshapes records into pencil pots but she fashions placements and wall art out of old records and their covers.  Hop over to her Etsy shop and see how much damage YOU can do!

3.  And finally, my third favorite thing comes from Fare & Balanced who handcrafts food pedestals.  I'm definitely not the kind of girl who needs to get all fancy schmancy and I don't own a food pedestal, not even for a cake.  But I can certainly appreciate the creativity behind each of Suzanne's creations.  This food pedestal  contains (starting from the bottom) a candle holder, saucer, cordial glass and a dinner plate.  She's just getting her Etsy store set up but in the meantime, this one is listed.

Here are the rest of the amazingly talented vendors who took part in this year's event:

AM Glass Recyclers I loved all the "melted" glass bottles and the tumbler style glasses cut from wine bottles
Riacycled Art picks up scrap granite and makes beautiful cheese boards with it
Butter Bath shared her 100% pure and natural face and body care products

Not quite online:

Sally Studios - while not the majority of her work, the guitar string jewelry was rockin'!
Rebecca Savage - shared her sweet birdhouses with marketplace visitors
At Home, LLC - dabbles in a little bit of everything for the home and garden
Burlap Buddies - had some really adorable home accessories made from  burlap and wine corks (which she swears she didn't drink all that wine alone!)
The Old Home Place - had some really cool yard art made from horseshoes

That just about rounds out the weekend.  I can't wait for next year's event.  If you'd like to keep up to date on future events, follow the Upcycled Living Fair blog.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Soy vs. Other Candle Waxes

For the past several months I've been collecting glass jars from friends, family, strangers....just about anyone.  While I have some plans for all those clear jars, my mom gave me a bunch of really great brown jars that I can't do much with in the way of decorating.  So I had this wild and crazy idea that I would just throw together some candles.  I have never made candles before but I figured, "I'm crafty, how hard can it be?"   So I walked the isles of my local craft store and bought a bag of soy wax and then I did some research.  Yeah, I know that's a little backwards but I realized then that I had a lot to learn.

While I work out the kinks of this latest upcycling adventure I thought I should definitely share what I learned because what I learned convinced me to never BUY another candle.  I'll share my upcycled candle making tutorial another time.  For now please use the following information as guidance only.  Like I said, I've never made candles before now but was shocked by what I learned and thought others would benefit from it.  So without further ado...

There are some health benefits to soy versus other waxes such as paraffin, which is the most common type of candle wax.
1. Soy is a natural substance derived from the soy bean.  When a soy candle burns it burns clean.  Other waxes are likely petroleum based and release carcinogens into your home.  Need proof?  Take a look at the glass around any of the non-soy jar candles in your home.  See all the black stuff around the rim?  That is soot produced from the burning of petroleum.

2.  Often candlemakers are aware of the health benefits of soy and look to make all aspects of their candles healthier.  The wicks of non-soy candles often contain led or other metal cores.  On the other hand, soy wicks are likely made of cotton.  If you choose soy, be sure to pay attention to this detail.  There's no sense in burning led in your home when there are healthier alternatives.

3.  Soy wax has a low melting point so it doesn't need to get quite so hot in order to melt.  If you accidentally get it on you, either while you're making or burning candles, it won't burn your skin like paraffin would.

Some environmental benefits:
1. Soy beans are grown mostly in the United States so the environmental impact of shipping is reduced as opposed to other waxes that come from oil producing countries.

2.  Cleaner burning candles means less carcinogens in the air.

Better ingredients make better end products:
1.  Watch any of your non-soy candles burn and you'll see a hole burrow through the candle around the wick.  That's because you're burning just the wick.  In a soy candle when the wick burns it burns off the  candle; the wax. As a soy candle burns it leaves a beautiful wax pool that solidifies to a nearly even surface when the wick is extinguished instead of a hole in the center of the candle.

2.  While you may suffer a moment of sticker shock, in the long run soy will save you money.  Pure burning soy will last at least twice as long as a paraffin candle.

So there's what I learned.  Wish me luck, I have my first batch cooling!

Friday, June 10, 2011

June - the Month of Weddings

As the days turn longer and air warms, many busy brides to be have finished the planning stages of their weddings and are just wrapping up the final details.  This is not the case for my brother and soon to be sister-in-law, they are just barely beginning to plan their wedding.  You can imagine that I was THILLED to hear that they would be planning a green wedding.  In fact, Melissa will be blogging about her experiences for the Green Bride Guide.  Her first blog was posted last week and I certainly plan to follow along and use her experiences for inspiration.

Let's face it weddings are inherently wasteful.  I know, it's hard to look at one of the biggest days of your life in such a way but we all know it's true.  From the invitations, overwhelming use of flowers, robust menus and take home tchotchkes weddings create an enormous amount of waste.  So what's a bride to do?  I've never been a big fan of all or nothing conservation messages. I have a really bad tendency of throwing my hands up in the air when things become overwhelming and I'm sure others do to.  So instead of fretting over every little detail of her upcoming green wedding, I believe a bride should - well, just do what she can!  If you're plans for your wedding are all set, congratulations!  If they aren't, here are a few tips for getting started on your wedding:

1.  Kick things off with digital wedding invitations.  If you're the type who really likes to hold those beautifully designed paper invitations in your have, choose recycled or natural fibers paper.
2.  Do they still throw rice at weddings?  If you must throw something, bird seed is a better option.  Bubbles are okay but be sure to save those bottles.  Cut off the wand and use the container to store small items (of course, my mind automatically goes to beads!)
3.  What's a wedding without gifts?  You could go the royal route and ask that your guests make a donation to a charity in your name.  But if you're not quite living like royalty, make sure your list includes household goods that are made locally to reduce the impact that shipping your gifts over long distances will create. 

Be sure to check back often, you can be sure that there will be more wedding blogs to follow.  And in the meantime, hop over to the Green Bride Guide for more tips.  And if you've tried your hand at a green wedding, post below and tell us what worked, what didn't and what you wished you had tried.
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