Sunday, August 6, 2017

Create alt-reality faux tech with vacuum tubes

Working with vacuum tubes is a rare and curious art. If you're looking for a steampunk or alt-reality costume accessory, a piece featuring a vacuum tube is a good way to go. They're distinctive and instantly achieve an effective alternate history vibe.
Vacuum Tube Glass Bulb

However, speaking from experience at Sleepless Storyteller, they are tricky items to work with. You can either bend or snip the protruding wires, but be careful not to crack the glass. I, personally, would not want to sell an item with a sharp edge of broken glass. They make lovely pendants and work well in mixed media art, but they're generally too tall to set as cabochons.

You'll see vacuum tubes in necklaces, pins, hats, and sometimes clocks. I've also seen them cleverly converted to USB sticks. Smaller tubes can be used for statement earrings while some of the largest can be adapted into desk lamps. If you're interested in working with vacuum tubes, I recommend browsing some of the awesome usage examples on Etsy, like the ones I tweeted below.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What can you make with scrap leather?

I'm always impressed at the popularity of leather scraps at Beyond Junk. I do my best to sort them into similar colours and textures, but beyond that, they're little leather pieces waiting to become ... something. And I'm never sure what.

Maroon Red Leather Scraps

To get a better idea of how makers are using leather scraps, here are a few of my favourite recent finds. Whether you consider it upcycling or recycling, it's an awesome practice I hope to see more of in future.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vintage Pound Puppies

If you've got a soft spot (pun intended) for vintage stuffies, you'll recognize the cuties below. Did you have a Pound Puppy or two? I had the large and small, although it's the latter below.

Visit these little guys at Beyond Junk and get a feel-good dose of childhood fun!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Upcycling a Little or a Lot

Whether you upcycle to make an eco-friendly statement or to save money, the biggest ongoing challenge is, where do you set the bar for salvaged supplies? If you plan to design again and again, how do you source recycled materials? And how do you incorporate new content?

The design below for Sleepless Storyteller uses upcycled material in the form of a pocketwatch face plate, a repurposed St. Christopher Medal, a salvaged rhinestone and setting from an old bracelet. The hippocampus charms, aquamarine cabochon and setting, bail, and chain are all new material.

Another design for Sleepless Storyteller merges vintage deadstock and upcycled salvaged supplies. There is far less new material in the design below (only chain, findings, rhinestones, and the green wire) but this type of work is not as easy to replicate.

If you're designing for personal use, you could definitely get away with being super selective about  your materials. You may even want to recycle within recycling, and by that I mean, design a piece, wear it until you loose interest, then reuse the components for something new.

If you're designing for customers, you'll need to consider two things: 1) How much art can I make and how often? 2) Am I trying to create a unified brand, or am I just creating as the muse strikes me?

Answering those questions will help you make decisions about supplies and about what kind of business you're building. It's totally fine to create a hobby business and not quit your day job. Sometimes art and design are more rewarding when your paycheck isn't on the line. But if you do want that sought-after self-employed job title, balance business with your art for best results.