Don’t Throw It Out!

October 20, 2009 at 7:23 am | Posted in Tips | 18 Comments

reused-paper-envelope-tutorialOur friend David sends along this link to a recycled-paper craft idea from Greenprophet, a site covering environmental issues around the Middle East:

“With all of the colorful designs on a lot of junk mail catalogs and solicitations, many of them can make unique envelopes. They are extremely easy to make, and these one-of-a-kind, funky envelopes are sure to put a smile on your addressee’s (and maybe even your postman’s) face.

For this project you will need:

1 sheet of junk mail paper or 1 sheet out of a junk mail catalog



Card/Letter you want to put in the envelope

1. Place the item you want to mail (the card or letter) on the center of your junk mail sheet. Make sure that the side of the paper you want to appear as the outside of the envelope is facing down.

2. Fold the sides of the sheet in around the card or letter – fold straight creases along the top, bottom, left, and right. This should create a grid-like pattern of folds on the sheet. (See the picture on the right.)

3. Use your scissors to cut out the four corners that were created by the folds. This should leave you with a cross-like shaped paper that has a center for the card or letter you want to mail and 4 flaps surrounding it. (Check out the picture on the left.)

4. Glue one of the larger flaps to the two side flaps to create a pocket for the item you want to mail. Once the glue has dried, place your letter in and seal the envelope by gluing the remaining flap closed.

If you are hand-delivering this envelope, then you don’t have to worry how sturdy your paper is. But if you plan on mailing the envelope (especially if it’s to an international location), then you may want to line the inside of the envelope with some additional junk mail paper. Magazine or catalog papers can be beautiful, but they can also be thin so before gluing the flaps closed in step 4, glue a cut out piece of paper that is slightly smaller than the main section of the envelope to the inside.”


Scavenged Carrots + Chocolate + Scrap Metal = Racecar

September 12, 2009 at 7:34 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

2753__0075Researchers at Great Britain’s University of Warwick have unveiled what they’re calling the world’s greenest Formula 3 race car. Manufactured at a cost of £500,000 (aka nearly $1 million), able to reach speeds of 135 mph, and dubbed “WorldFirst,” the fully functional vehicle’s scavenged components include soda bottles, vegetable fiber, “waste chocolate,” flaxseeds, soybeans, and scrap metal, according to the business blog domain-b:

“Using recycled materials, and with support from over 50 companies, the design team headed by Dr Kerry Kirwan has created a car for just £500,000. And not just any old car, but a racing car capable of taking on the world’s finest.

“Unveiling his creation at the annual conference of the British Science Association, Dr Kirwan is confident that his innovative creation will not embarrass him. So confident, in fact, that he is entering his car in a Formula 3 championship race at the iconic Brands Hatch circuit in Kent….

“The car’s chassis has been reclaimed from a scrapped vehicle. So also its 2 litre BMW diesel engine, which was severely re-engineered so as to run on bio fuel. Recycled carbon fibres from old aircraft panels and recycled soft drink bottles that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill make up most of the vehicle’s body.

“Its steering wheel was manufactured by a company which uses carrot fibres, or cellulose nano-fibres, to give it its technical name, extracted from a carrot soup factory, with technology used to make fishing rods and other products. Curiously, the steering wheel is purple, instead of orange, which leads Dr Kirwan to speculate that beet fibres may have been added to the mix.

“For safety reasons, the wheels, tyres, and the cockpit had to remain conventional, and conform to rigid Formula 3 specifications. So, sadly, wheels made from recycled potato starch and brake pads from cashew nut shells had to be discarded in the design lab. The racing seat though, was made from flax fibre and soybean oil foam….

“Fuel efficient, as befits a ‘green’ vehicle, the car gives 35 miles to a gallon at race speeds. It has been engineered to run on any biodiesel, but so far, the team has been running it on fuel made from waste fat from a chocolate factory, and alcohol distilled from wine dregs. It is difficult to make a racing car that is ultimately sustainable, but Dr Kirwan thinks that this is a step in the right direction.

“Formula 1 racing has long been hated by environmentalists for its polluting ways. This car may be the first step to show people that environmental awareness has its place in motor racing. And this is not all. Some of the technology used in the design of WorldFirst could be successfully transferred to make ordinary cars more sustainable. In fact, Dr Kirwan is in talks to build yachts using recycled carbon fibre. To him, the car was a nice way of packaging up research in a credible way. His team and he hope to show the industry how much is possible using sustainable technologies.”

Warwick University’s website has more pictures of the car.

Minnesota Scavengers: Don’t Miss This

September 11, 2009 at 9:36 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

imagesAccording to the Grand Forks Herald, “Minnesota’s longest rummage sale is set for Saturday on the state’s longest scenic byway.

“The King of Trails Marketplace covers 415 miles on U.S. Highway 75 from the Canada border to the Iowa border, promoter Ethel Thorlacius, Stephen, Minn., said. Highway 75 was designated the Historic King of Trails by the Minnesota Legislature in 2002 and as a Minnesota Scenic Byway in 2004. Vendors will sell antiques, arts, crafts, collectibles, flowers, food and more from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“’It’s getting to be more and more people and not businesses who have produce, baked goods and rummage sale items to sell,’ Thorlacius said.

“The trail of bargains will be outlined by yellow balloons. Thorlacius said Kennedy will conduct sales inside its old schoolhouse and Argyle will use sales proceeds to add on to its Historical Society Building.

“’Every year since we’ve started, Ron Donarski, who owns a truck garage along Highway 75 in Stephen, cleans it up and makes it available for the Marketplace,’ Thorlacius said.

“Crookston will begin its Marketplace at 9 a.m. inside the Crookston Arena, 220 E. Robert St.

“The National Weather Service’s forecast for Saturday calls for a 20 percent chance of showers with a high temperature of 70 degrees.”

How to Scavenge Glasses: Meet Ira Mitchell, Cheap-Glasses Guru

August 24, 2009 at 9:50 am | Posted in Tips | 24 Comments

Designer-Eyeglasses-702155One of the most life-changing scavenging sites online is Glassy Eyes, devoted to the revolutionary idea of BUYING PRESCRIPTION EYEGLASSES ONLINE for half, one-fourth, or even one-tenth of what they’d cost you in a brick-and-mortar optician’s shop. I know — it sounds impossible. But more and more online eyeglasses companies are popping up all the time; Glassy Eyes keeps track of them and hosts dozens of forums where users discuss their experiences with each. Because of my severe astigmatism and strong prescription, glasses normally cost me over $300 per pair, with absolutely no frills. But thanks to Glassy Eyes, last year I bought a pair of progressive bifocals from Zenni Optical for about $50. (Zenni’s prices start at an amazing $8 for single-vision glasses. Mine were more because they’re bifocals.) They’re not perfect — a bit of distortion at the outer edges, and the middle range is a smidge too narrow — but for distance and for reading, they’re sharp and clear. As backups, they’ve been absolutely great.

Those of us with less-than-perfect vision know that eyeglasses are a scavenger’s nightmare. Maybe, just maybe, you can find the occasional pair of secondhand frames in a thrift shop or at a yard sale, but such finds are incredibly rare — largely because the Lions Club tends to get first dibs on all pairs of prescription spectacles donated to thrift shops, which the club then gives to Doctors Without Borders, which then distributes them among the needy overseas. And even if you find those once-in-a-blue-moon secondhand frames, the chances of actually liking them — of their being the right shape, size, style, and color — are slim beyond slim. Frames at brick-and-mortar opticians’ shops tend to start at around $100, which is ridiculous considering that you’re just getting a few ounces of plastic or wire with a couple of hinges attached. AND THAT’S JUST THE COST OF THE FRAMES. The markup on lenses is shocking too, according to Ira Mitchell, the guy behind Glassy Eyes.

Mitchell is a scavengers’ hero, and he was kind enough to consent to an interview.

Purchased online, “my typical pair costs between $30 and $60 with the coatings and the discounts,” Mitchell says. Over the last three years, he’s bought around forty pair — because, at that price, he can.

Q: Tell me something about the markups commonly applied at opticians’ shops. When it comes to frames and various types of lenses, what kind of profit margin are we talking about?

A: There are a number of examples that have been passed my way to further enforce my view of the fleecing we’ve received at the hands of the optical shops. Some are rather damning. Here is my favorite, by far, from an optician in Texas — I found it on an online optical board: “A pair of SV (single vision) stock poly Alize cost me $34, and carry a 2 year warranty. We sell ’em all day long for $199/pair, for a profit of $165/pair. Our capture rate for AR (anti-reflective coating) is about 90%. Also stock poly non coated, cost $6/pair and sell for $109…. Now show me the math where you can beat the $165 profit on a pair of SV (single vision) lenses. If you can, I’ll still love you in the morning.”

After I posted it, he got in touch with me directly — very angrily I should add. A creepy dude to be sure.

A retired Minneapolis optician sent me the following: ‘As a retired Minneapolis optician I can tell you first hand that we bought our lenses in bulk and most single vision lenses cost less than $2.00 a pair, Bifocals and progressives cost us as much as $6.00 a pair. Frames… name brand, up to $10.00, same quality generics cost us much less. Online is the way I buy all of my eyewear, New glasses in under two weeks!’

I originally thought that the markup was in the frames. The range in prices from what my eye doctor called ‘welfare frames’ to the designer frames was from $30 to whatever-you-want-to-pay. I figured they pay salaries and such from the cost of the designer frame with the $190 price tag. There is no appreciable functional or material difference, but the cost to the consumer is anywhere from four to ten times more.

It turns out that they’re making ridiculous margins on the frames, the lenses, and the coatings.

Q: GlassyEyes’ motto is “Shattering the eyeglasses scam.” That’s a pretty strong charge. Why do you call it a scam?

A: $400 for a pair of eyeglasses at a store, versus a remarkably similar pair online for, say, $30? These companies, apart from the few mom-and-pop joints scratching for survival in the small towns, are gobbling each other up in an effort to monopolize the market. Look at the eyeglasses chains in your city. I bet the vast majority are owned by one company. [That company is Luxottica; Mitchell provides this link.]

Stack the deck enough and you won’t have any competition to help moderate prices. The internet is again proving itself as a great equalizer.

Q: What do you say to folks who ask: Are you trying to put regular brick-and-mortar opticians out of business?

A: Only the ones who continue to rip people off and refuse to adapt to a new economy. I’ve stated early on that I think there is an economical model for a low-cost brick-and-mortar eyeglasses store. A lot of it relies on a sea change in our thinking about eyeglasses. That is starting to happen and someone will figure out a way to serve the masses, either online or off…. I expect big changes in the next couple of years.

Q: Have you been confronted/questioned/challenged by any representatives of the optical industry?

A: Constantly. … [But] as the site’s popularity grows, these confrontations are diminishing. I think they realize that there is little to argue about any longer — the toothpaste is out of the tube. They’re hoping that more people don’t do the research and that this will remain a ‘niche.’

Q: Buying anything online entails a certain amount of risk. Buying glasses anywhere entails a certain amount of risk. Given the degree of risk, how do you advise online glasses-shoppers to proceed? What should they be most aware of, cautious about, etc.?

A: I’ve lost count of the number of eyeglasses orders I’ve placed online … and I’ve only gotten two ‘bad’ pairs…. Of the previous five pairs I bought at LensCrafters, one was made with the lenses flipped, and another with Ray-Ban frames never fit right. There is a risk to ordering online, but I much prefer my 95% online success to my 60% at LensCrafters.

I have four things I preach to newcomers:

1) I mitigated my initial risk by ordering two pairs — each from a different retailer. I figured at least one would be OK. Do the same.

2) Check, double-check, and triple-check the prescription you enter online. Be very sure the numbers on that prescription card match what you’ve entered on that form.

3) Use the numbers stamped on the inside of an existing pair as a guideline on those first few pairs. All of the sites explain what these numbers mean. You can branch out from this once you’re comfortable and understand the process better.

4) Only order from reputable dealers. There are two places that I cover that are very, very good at making customers happy. When problems happen — and they do — the separation comes from the retailers that stand behind their product. I think it’s fair to pay a little bit more for that.

Makin’ Paper Beads

August 7, 2009 at 10:37 am | Posted in Recycling | 3 Comments

_wsb_430x374_pink+paper+beadsI’ve spent much of this morning making paper beads, which I’ve never done before. Apparently, thrifty and crafty Victorian females made beads with scrap paper, which they then strung to make bead curtains as a cheap way to divide rooms and screen areas for privacy. Instructables has a handy how-to, created by the folks at Mzuri Beads, a company in Uganda that sells cool beads (as seen at left) made from recycled paper.

I’m experimenting with this because tomorrow I am helping to throw a baby shower, and I was sitting here trying to come up with a participatory craft/ritual/activity in which all the party guests can participate. The guest of honor loves handmade items, and she’s into nature and spirituality, but not into any specific religion, so I wondered: What can we all make that would let us put our wishes into it for her and for her partner and their baby? Maybe we could each write our private heartfelt wishes on slips of paper, then do … something … with the slips to create … something … beautiful and lasting. But what? And how to do it so that the messages remain private, so that they stay kind of secret? Hmm. By rolling them up! But … what can you make with tightly rolled slips of paper? Beads!! But … how to make them? Hmm. It’s on the Net!

So I had to practice, because tomorrow at the party I’m going to put out a tray containing glue stick, skewers, pencils, and a bunch of very long slim isosceles triangles, snipped from colorful magazine pages. Each guest can write a wish on one side of a triangle, which becomes the inside; glue stick is spread over the wish, and the triangle is rolled tightly, wide side first and message side in, around the skewer. When dry, the beads are removed, varnished, and strung. Obviously — because varnish and parties don’t go well together — I’ll have to take the beads home with me and then varnish and string them here, sending or giving the finished necklace to our guest of honor later. But she can keep it forever … and it will be full of good wishes!

In the process of practicing, I learned that two centimeters is a good width for handmade paper beads. I’m not into the metric system; it just came out that way. And I learned that “busy” magazine pages with lots of colors and patterns — and no white space — create the effects I like best. Others might prefer subtler colors, less contrast, and/or a repeating overall pattern such as flowers, dots or checks.

Tomorrow’s the party! I’ll let you know how our experiment works out.

Giant Insect Made of Scavenged Parts

July 2, 2009 at 8:31 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

1752303.binUsing scavenged airplane parts and other scrap metal, a Canadian welder has crafted “the world’s biggest dragonfly.” Frank Phaneuf (shown at left, in photo by Shaugn Butts of the Edmonton Journal) wanted to make his contribution to the ever-increasing list of “world’s biggest” structures in Alberta — a list now topping sixty and including Vegreville’s giant Easter egg, Dewberry’s gargantuan chuckwagon and Glendon’s massive pierogy. According to the Edmonton Journal, the thirty-foot insect now graces “the lakeside village of Wabamun, 70 kilometres west of Edmonton. ‘I tried to get it as anatomically correct as possible,’ says Phaneuf,” who “constructed the giant insect in his spare time….

“The abdomen is a 490-litre propane tank welded to a light post, staggered wings borrowed from scrapped airplanes span nearly 10 metres, and the insect’s one-metre-diameter eyes are cut and fitted from another tank.

“A local artist airbrushed the bug blue, black and brown, adding a clear lacquer finish for good measure.

“The assembled sculpture sits on a six-metre pole.

“Phaneuf says he didn’t get much response when calling area junkyards for parts. ‘I finally went in, because they thought I was nuts,’ says Phaneuf, who prefers the title of ‘welder with an imagination,’ rather than artist. While Phaneuf provided the muscle and design, the idea was the brainchild of Mary Thomas, Wabamun’s special events and marketing co-ordinator. The idea came to Thomas a year and a half ago as a way of drawing tourists to the town. ‘Curiosity brings people in,’ says Thomas. ‘We’re hoping it puts us on the map.'”

Cheap Chinese Junk Goes Greenish

June 22, 2009 at 6:54 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

b1003053Even Chinese factories — the source of unnecessary oceans of mass-produced cheap junk; let’s not mince words — are now jumping onto the waste-reduction bandwagon. Massive quantities of waste matter left over from the craft-manufacturing process used to be discarded. But these days, according to the gift-industry journal Global Sources, much of it is being scavenged, recycled, repurposed and reused:

“Typical waste in craft manufacturing includes leftover materials, residue, defective and broken products, and contaminated water. At most suppliers of ceramic models, the defect rate is 10 percent and the breakage rate is 3 to 5 percent. Melting rejected pieces for reuse is difficult due to the temperature requirements. As such, enterprises face the problems of accumulated waste and decreasing clay supply.”

But 1,100 manufacturers in the city of Dehua “are finding ways of reapplication. [Their] total utilization rate of recovered material is 90 percent, amounting to 30 kilotons per year. This saves US$2.2 million of expenditure and translates to about US$11.7 million in output.

“Waste ceramic is recycled by pulverizing the substance and fortifying it with additives before fresh clay is combined in specific proportions. The resulting material costs 30 percent less than alternatives. Being previously subjected to heat, recovered ceramic has lower temperature requirements, minimizing energy consumption. The defect rate of finished products is also reduced…. Of the 50 kilotons of clay employed annually by [Dehua company] Fujian Guanfu, 6.5 to 7 kilotons become detritus. The company reduces production outlay by nearly US $600,000 via the use of all scrap material.

“At Fujian Dehua Ningchang Ceramics Co. Ltd, the utilization of recovered ceramic raises output value by US $1.5 million each year. In addition, the more than 30 plaster recycling enterprises in Dehua repurpose 220 kilotons of plaster generated by ceramic molds, dropping costs further. They established the Dehua Plaster Science & Technology Association for technological improvements and information dissemination.

“Some makers, including Fujian Dehua Ningchang, have also started recycling slag tailings from the manufacture of ceramic models and metal glaze. About 100 megatons are generated annually in China. This byproduct does not require crushing to process, thereby reducing the manufacturing cost of the metal glaze and ceramic items made from it.

“Most of Fujian Dehua Ningchang’s ceramic photo frames have recycled content. Pieces with 40 percent waste ceramic and versions that use 80 percent slag tailings are priced 40 and 60 percent less, respectively, than releases exclusively in virgin clay…. Fujian Jiamei employs 90 percent of its leftover materials, including plastic foam. The step results in cost reductions of 5 percent. Similarly, Fujian Dehua Jiamei Printing uses recycled paper in its gift boxes and bags. This lowers prices by more than 10 percent.”

Which means … even cheaper Chinese junk. But hey, at least it contains recycled materials.

Credit-Card Choker & Friend

June 12, 2009 at 5:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

So many obsolete credit cards … so many crafts. This time, I designed a choker — just in time for summer, when bright sunshine works wonders on the hologram:IMG_0217

I found the chain and glass beads in the street.

And just for the heck of it, I also made a bracelet out of a French phone card, scavenged on a pre-Euro trip to France:IMG_0221

Rudy Rucker: We Might Scavenge Telepathically Someday

May 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Celebrities | 2 Comments

RudyRuckerRudy Rucker is a fan of scavenging, as I learned while interviewing the cyberpunk pioneer about his new novel Hylozoic, which comes out this week.

Everyone and everything is telepathic in Hylozoic, the latest of the multi-award-winning mathematician/computer scientist’s nearly three dozen books. Reading the consciousness of anyone or anything — a rock, a president, Portland, a Bible, an embryo, an alien pitchfork that talks with a hillbilly twang, a “flimsy summer shift of lilac gauze” which in one scene convinces a three-eyed shopper that it complements her green skin — is called teeping. As the book begins, honeymooners and 24/7 reality-media stars Thuy Nguyen and Jorge “Jayjay” Jimenez awaken, with “Jayjay teeping Thuy teeping him teeping her,” accessible to a whole universe of eager teepers. “If you were doing something really private,” we learn, “you could always turn off your teep. But fewer and fewer things seemed private enough to bother hiding.”

Same as now. But that world, the futureworld of this sequel to Rucker’s 2007 novel Postsingular, swarms with flying stingray creatures, man-sized alien birds, rune-programmed atoms, addictive gel, deities, sparkly materialization dots, and the 15th-century Dutch painter Jeroen Bosch, who prays and teleports.

So basically these characters can scavenge each other’s thoughts. (And in one scene, a gang of down-and-outers brew soup using scavenged bones and cabbage: Some of these men “lacked limbs, others had twisted spines or egregious harelips”; one suffered from a flesh-eating plague.) But they can also scavenge actual stuff more readily than we can, because they’re also capable of telekinesis, aka teeking. So, ideally, I could teep beaches everywhere and, whenever something cool washes up on one, I could teek to it and nab that shark jawbone or Ming dish or gold ring. Then again, teeking would make theft effortless. Strong ethics and/or strong law enforcement would have to rule that world.

“My idea,” Rucker tells me, “is that if everyone has a telepathic ability to see things at a distance, then the physical world becomes like the Internet. Instead of searching websites, you can search your neighbors’ garages and basements for things to borrow.” Or swap, short-term or long-term. “Like — why buy an electric hedge trimmer when you only trim once a year? In my world, people become willing to lend things out because they’re able to keep telepathic track of where the stuff goes and how it’s treated. Borrowers and lenders acquire ratings, just like the people who currently buy and sell things online” at eBay and such sites, he says. “In principle we could already implement this” here in the real world. “Imagine a resource-sharing website called something like Our Garage. But in reality things never work as well as they do in SF novels.”

No, darn it, they don’t. cover

Rucker’s ideas “trickle in unpredictably,” he explains. “Often I’ll push for an idea, focusing on a story situation and trying to imagine what comes next. When I’m brainstorming like this, it helps to be taking notes, either on a scrap of paper, or by actually typing into my laptop. Making little drawings helps, too. But I don’t always get the full insight that I need while I’m pushing. The search seems to continue in my subconscious, and maybe a few hours or even days later I’ll get an ‘aha’ moment about what I need to do. That’s what we call the muse.”

How did Jeroen (better known as Hieronymus) Bosch end up in this book?

“I’ve been a fan of Bosch ever since high school, when my big brother showed me a book of his paintings. Given my bent towards science fiction, surrealism, and fantastical worlds, Bosch is a natural for me. I’ve often wondered what kind of person Bosch was. Some passages in his pictures seem rather cruel; in other spots you pick up a feeling of ecstasy, and then again there’s often a feeling of mockery and satire. I enjoyed trying to combine these hints into a character in Hylozoic — where he comes across as a genius, a devoted artist, somewhat sarcastic, a mystic, and something of a prick.”

While researching Hylozoic, the author visited Bosch’s Dutch hometown, s’Hertogenbosch: “I used that visit a lot; it was rich.” For the portions of the novel that are set in San Francisco, “my wife and I lived for week in a flophouse on Valencia Street … and I picked up some local color there. I read this scholarly book by David Skrbina, Panpsychism in the West, about the history of the idea that objects might be able to think. And always I’m cruising the web, watching movies, reading … looking for clues everywhere.”

Like Bosch, Rucker is a painter himself, employing sherbet-bright oils and acrylics in such works as Stun City, The Attack of the Mandelbrot Set, Arf and the Saucer (in which a dog barks at starfishlike creatures emerging from a spacecraft to leap into what appears to be a hot tub) and Welcome to Mars. Sometimes his paintings help shape his fiction, as in the image below, which depicts Bosch and a stingraylike Hrull.frahylozoic

“It’s not pleasant or productive to sit at my computer trying to write all day,” he muses. “If I do that, I start feeling sorry for myself, like a shut-in. And, really, I tend get at most two hours of full-tilt writing per day. So it’s good to do something else. Painting is totally unlike using a computer. I smear things around, I drool over the pretty colors, and nothing is perfectly neat. My level of manual control is low enough that I tend to surprise myself with what I end up painting. Sometimes these surprises show me things that are a good fit for my current novel or story — you might say that I’m channeling information from another part of my brain. But it’s fine if I don’t use the images in my fiction. The main thing is that I’m feeding my soul and getting into the moment and, if I’m lucky, turning off my inner monologue.”

Seems to have worked thus far.

Can’t teek? “You can scavenge a free copy of Postsingular at,” the author asserts.

Don’t Go There

May 4, 2009 at 6:20 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

300px-f-86a_01This is one of those things that gives us a bad name. “Scavengers at Jet Smash Site” is the headline of a story in yesterday’s Darlington-Stockton Times, a local paper in Great Britain’s northeast.

“Macabre treasure hunters have been using metal detectors to search for souvenirs from the scene of a horrific jet crash more than 50 years ago. An RAF Sabre fighter from Linton-on-Ouse near York plunged into Hood Hill, near Sutton Bank on the North York Moors, in September 1954 and was blown to pieces in the high-speed impact. The pilot, 23-year-old Flying Officer Colin ‘Snatch’ Grabham, born in Dover, was killed instantly and the crater left by the smash is still visible to this day.

“But souvenir scavengers, thought to be military aircraft enthusiasts, have been search for highly-collectable fragments of the jet and left signs of digging. And officials have condemned the practice and called for its immediate end. ‘It is highly likely the remains of Flying Officer Grabham are still on the site and therefore the site should be treated with the respect it deserves,’ said a Ministry of Defence spokesman. ‘In addition, there is a chance that ordnance may remain at the site and it can become unstable when exposed to the air, leading to death or serious injury.'”

“He also warned that it was an offence to tamper with, damage, move or unearth any remains under the Protection of Military Remains Act….

“The site is within the National Park and … digging near the crash crater [is] also restricted by law due to its importance as the site of a medieval fortification.”

Which means that those treasure-seekers are breaking Commandment 5 of our Scavenging Code of Ethics, as detailed in our book The Scavengers’ Manifesto:

“Don’t remove historical or archaeological artifacts from areas where they are protected. [Such areas include] battlefields, ghost towns, Native American settlements, archaeological sites, historic buildings, and so on. As tempting as it might be, never ever remove any artifacts of any kind from protected sites such as these. It might feel like scavenging, especially when no one else is around, but there’s another name for it: looting.”

Thrift-Shop Garb Gets a Makeover in Missoula

March 13, 2009 at 8:36 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

08designsThe Project Selvedge Challenge, a scavenger-chic version of TV’s Project Runway, happens every year on Missoula, Montana’s “Hip Strip.” Leah Morrow, owner of the Selvedge Studio fabric boutique, conceived the idea three years ago. Last Friday night, techno music resounded as models wearing altered thrift-shop garb strode a homemade catwalk during the first night of the month-long challenge, in which seven designers vie to create inspiring clothes on what Morrow calls “a recession budget.”

When the challenge began, “each designer headed to Secret Seconds, a thrift store on Broadway, for what Morrow deemed the ‘reconstruction challenge,'” reports the University of Montana newspaper. “They had one week and $25 store credit apiece to purchase and use whatever clothing and accessories they could find,” which they would then adapt to their liking. 

Entrants included a macramé bikini crafted of shredded fabric; designer Rachel Woodward tore her thrift-shop purchases into thin strips, which became her macramé “string.” Weaving the swimsuit took Woodward 24 hours. “Other creations included a rubber-stamped shirt by Gretchen Svee, a striped skirt designed by Chanel Tobin, a karate-inspired number by Ingrid Lovitt, an orange dress by Alison Moon, and a bag by Kathryn Walters.” The challenge continues until April 3.

Winners will receive $500 in fabric from Selvedge Studio, $125 gift certificate to Betty’s Divine boutique, and an oil change.


Don’t Chuck That Lucky Charms Box

March 9, 2009 at 9:27 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

paper_cutterArizona artist Frances Biller-Belinky makes baskets from discarded cracker, cereal and stove-top stuffing boxes. Her quirky work has just won a national award from the Handweavers Guild of America, according to local TV station KTAR. Collecting the colorful empty boxes from neighbors and fellow members of the Tucson Handweavers and Spinners Guild, Biller-Belinky uses a paper-cutter — she formerly used a shredder — to divide them into long strips, which she then crafts into baskets that take from a few hours to a few months to complete. 

After learning to weave baskets about ten years ago with bark and grass, the former schoolteacher saw a picture of a cereal-box basket in a book and decided to try it on her own. As she interweaves the strips, she glues them in place, using waxed linen to fortify each basket’s base. Lately she’s begun experimenting with other recycled materials, including corrugated cardboard.

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