Friday, January 27, 2012

Featured Artist: Green Illuminations

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Shan and Jarod of Green Illuminations. This duo upcycles some pretty fun stuff out of wine bottles and I am truly in love with thier shop!  Which makes me extra excited to also share that they are offering a 15% discount in their shop through February 28, 2012 just for reading this post.  So how do you get your hands on this discount?  Read on my friends, read on...

Tell us a little about your shop and your art.
All Natural Wine Bottle Candle
We create candles, lanterns and luminaries from recycled wine and beer bottles. Our lanterns are popular in the summer for the outdoors. They can be hung about anywhere; trees, shepherds hooks, patios, etc. Our candles are super popular year round and in our first year we created and sold over 500 lbs of candles! We also make tumblers from recycled bottles and some odds and ends from the corks. Our most popular cork product being magnets.
We got started by making the lanterns for ourselves for our backyards and after a crafty friend saw what we were doing she suggested we try selling them. From there things just took off and we worked very hard our first year (2011) tweaking our Etsy store, getting into 9 stores in 3 states and attending nearly 30 craft shows and events.
When did you start playing with trash?
We wouldn’t really consider our materials “trash”. Glass has a low chemical interaction with its contents, so essentially when it’s cleaned and reused it is just like new. Glass can take nearly 1 million years to break down in a landfill. With our products, they are turned into a new product in as little as a few weeks!

Wine Cork Magnets
Who are the important folks/critters in your life?

Green Illuminations is a partnership. And we each have our own pets. Shan has a cat named Kumiko and Jarod has a small dog named Chinche. And of course, for both of us, all our friends and family are important!

Where do you take your inspiration from?
Most of our ideas are ours that we’ve came up with on our own. Some we’ve taken from tutorials we’ve seen around the web. Our candles specifically, there are other companies out there who do those too, created in wine bottles. And we only found that out after we started even though we had the idea on our own. There are lots of overlapping great ideas out there and I believe there is room in the market for everyone! We are the only ones I know of that use only essential oils though.
Wine Bottle Lantern
What do you want readers to know about you or your art?
All our products are created by hand. Our candles are 100% natural soy wax and essential oils with all natural wood or cotton wicks. We do custom orders, and our lanterns and luminaries are great for weddings and outdoor events!

Now how about that discount?  Head over to Green Illuminations Etsy shop, make your many selections and at checkout enter the coupon code UPCYCLEDSTUFF15 and you'll receive 15% off of your entire purchase.

Want to learn even more?  You can find Green Illuminations on the web, on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sometimes It's Good to be #1

Thanks to everyone who read about (and supported) new Etsy artist Sandy Savard in last week's post. has determined that commenter #1 is the winner of this giveaway!  Congratulations to TheFrogBag, I'm jealous!  Watch the mail for your cleverly upcycled garden markers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Going Green Doesn't Mean Spending More Green

It's a given that when I'm not posting my own blogs, tweets and shares on Facebook, I'm reading others posts.  One of the recurring themes in the responses that are left by readers are that they wish it was easier to be green, not so expensive.  Well, I'm here to show you that you can actually save money whilst going green.  Let's start with my current pet peeve - over packaging.

So much of today's over packaging is in the name of convenience, single serve packages so you can grab-n-go.  I get it, I have a more-than-full-time job in addition to blogging, designing new products for my Etsy shop, tweeting and sharing to Facebook daily.  Never mind the house full of geriatric animals needing daily attention.  When it comes to errands and chores, I just want to get in and get it done.  So how tempting is something like these individual packs of carrots?

Yummy, healthy snacks in ready to go packaging!  Instead of focusing on the added waste that all of that individual packaging makes, I thought I'd might appeal to your wallets.  We all know how important it is to pinch pennies in today's economy.  So I'd like to challenge these packaged-for-convenience carrots with this:

The 4-pack of single serving size contains 12oz.of carrots and I paid $1.89 for them, $0.16/ounce.  The larger 16oz bag was only $1.69, a cost of only $0.11 /ounce.  Okay so it's only pennies, but consider all the other convenience foods that you purchase (sliced apples, chopped greens, etc.) and you can see pennies turn into dollars very quickly.

So what about the convenience part?  You know my cabinets are filled with plastic containers that used to have other food items in them!  When I come home from the grocery store I pull them out and start loading them up...before I put the groceries away.  After filling up my FIVE single serve containers I can even use a dry erase marker to label these leftover butter tubs.  Then stack 'em up in the fridge and viola, grab-n-go healthy snacks.

You can do the same with those pre-sliced apples.  Chop 'em up, coat with a small bit of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown and toss 'em into containers.  You can even put them into containers with some peanut butter (I saw this done somewhere with celery in large plastic peanut butter jars but for the life of me, I can't find the reference now!)

And greens, too, wash, chop and store before they hit the fridge.  How do you save money while going green?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Featured Artist: Savard Studios and a Giveaway!

I'm so excited to share a new (and fabulously talented) Etsy artist with you today, Sandy Savard of Savard Studios.   And as a special little surprise, Sandy has generously offered to send one lucky reader one of her upcycled creations.  Look at these garden markers made out of wine corks! 

We'll get back to the details of how you can win a set of your very own after we get to know a little bit more about Sandy and her art.  So without further ado.

Sandy Savard of Savard Studios
Tell us a little about your shop and your art.
My shop is an eclectic blend of items for the home, body and garden. I love to paint anything! I’ve been painting walls, ceilings, trim and furniture for 18+ years. Everything in my shop Is handpainted or upcycled.  I love adding color and texture to items to upcycle them into more than they are. I love shimmer and metallic.

When did you start playing with trash?
Since I’ve been a decorative painter, I’ve been collecting items that I felt I could turn into something else with a little paint. I never did anything with the items because I didn’t feel I had an easy way to market them and I was always too busy painting in homes. I found Etsy recently, when I was looking for some old knobs to put on a piece of furniture I was painting. Suddenly, there was an affordable place to list my items. All the ideas I've filed in my brain for many years have come pouring out. It's very exciting! I wish there were more hours in a day. I'm constantly creating something.

Hand Painted Puzzle Wine Glass Charms
Who are the important folks/critters in your life?
Family and friends are the most important. My husband, who is also very creative and a bit of a pack rat, has always supported my creative endeavors. My teenage sons have been known to help in my creative endeavors and are also blooming artists. My friends are ever supportive and encouraging. My girl's weekends spent scrapbooking help me keep my sanity. 

Our family is very social and we host an annual summer party each year. We are always creative with our theme. We work hard for our invitations, decorations, food and wardrobe to all follow the theme. Our rescued terrier, Crunch, is always the starting point. What costume can we put her in this year to create the party theme? There are photos of her for sale in my store as well. Cinco de Mayo, Hawaiian Luau's and Mardis Gras have been a few of our theme's.

Hand Painted, Distressed Clock Face Table
Where do you take your inspiration from?
Colors and textures I see around me everyday. I love being outdoors and working in the garden. Beautiful sunrises/sunsets glistening on the water. Enjoying a glass of wine and seeing images of Italy, France and Greece, while planning a dream vacation.

What other passions do you have in life?
I love gardening and giving back to the earth. Our society has come to expect perfection and anything that doesn’t fit that mold is disposable. If we can give old items a new face, we save them from filling our landfills and polluting our earth.

Hand Painted Washer Necklace
What do you want readers to know about you or your art?
Over the top color, texture and metallics add so much beauty to our surroundings. Why go through life as plain vanilla? I hope people will discover all the beautiful colors and textures they can add to their surroundings. My hope is to bring the finishes I currently use in my clients homes onto smaller everyday items as well as beautiful pieces of furniture destined for the landfill.

Now how about that giveaway!  You can enter multiple times, one entry for each of the actions listed below that you take.  Please leave a separate comment for each action and I'll use a random number generator to select a winner on Thursday January 19, 2012 at 6:00pm EST.  Here's how to enter:

1.  Like Savard Studios on Facebook
2.  Tweet this blog post and be sure to leave your @twitter name
3.  Follow @sasavard
4.  Help Sandy build a following on her brand new blog - just click either of the Follow buttons
5.  Stop by Sandy's shop and post your favorite item below.

Good luck everyone!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: "Don't Throw It Out"

It absolutely was the title that sucked me in!  I'm constantly being gifted with odd bits and pieces of stuff from my moms friends who say, "you're mom tells me never to throw ANYTHING out, so here ya go."  I have to laugh every time I graciously accept something that I have no idea what I'm going to do with.  On the other hand, it's quite humbling to think that my mom and her friends have that much faith in my creative abilities.

But this book, Don't Throw It Out by Lori Baird, is more than  a catchy title and I highly recommend it for everyone's bookshelf as there truly is something in it for everyone.  Whether you are often making home repairs, sick of buying new stuff to replace old stuff that had a way too short usable life or someone who delights in finding another use for trash, this book has it all.

I am actually finding the book quite empowering, it gives me the know how to make small repairs that I wouldn't have otherwise made.  And, yes, I said finding.  It's not the kind of book that you sit down and read chapter to chapter.  More likely you'll work your way through this book topic by topic and continue to use it as a reference for years to come.

Do you own the book?  Tell us what you think.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Current Pet Peeve: Over Packaging

If you've ever visited my Etsy shop, you can surely see that I use a wide variety of packaging material to make my paper beads.  But lately I've become increasingly frustrated by the absurdly wasteful packaging that plagues society.  Here is the proverbial straw that broke the camels back:

Do you see it...the actual item that I purchased?  Here's a closer look (not including the dime of course):

Holy cow!  And did you see the size of that receipt?  It looks like I bought the store out when, in fact, this micro disk is all that I purchased!  The ironic part of this story is that I went back to the store to purchase this disk when I realized it wasn't included with the hand scanner that I had just bought.  My intention behind the scanner purchase was to reduce waste.  Ha, joke's on me!

While I'm not for New Year's resolutions (they are only made to be broken after all), I have made it my goal to reduce the impact of overpackaging in my life this year!  You can bet I'll be writing a bit about it this year - I hope you'll join me in this adventure.
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