Posts Tagged big projects

Shine Brite – the lite brite of reclaimed materials

By Rose Lathrop, Green Building & Smart Growth Manager with Sustainable Connections

For the last few years I have picked one project that I think is ridiculous and fun and try to make it happen. I focus on interactive and sustainable projects. Last year it was an Advice Booth made from recycled pallets and doors from The RE Store. I have dreamed of building this giant lite brite for years. The key was figuring out what the pegs would be made of. I was brainstorming at the Sustainable Connections office and someone suggested plastic water bottles. That was the ‘ah-ha’ moment.

shine brite

The 8’ x 8’ giant lite brite was constructed out of nearly all reclaimed and recycled materials (lights excluded). Using three hollow core doors, door jams and other odds and ends found at The RE Store, I constructed the light box and used over 350 500ml water bottles filled with colored water to create the pegs. Instead of a static white light, I used RGB LED light strips that change color, fade, flash, and is reactive to music. This adds a new dimension to the 1980’s tiny version.

I am happy to report finding that many water bottles wasn’t super easy. I found a couple of good sources and now that I am mostly done collecting them, I can go back to those places and suggest alternatives to those DAMN WATER BOTTLES! Hotels, sporting events/workout gyms, and construction sites were the biggest offenders and contributors.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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2013 Trash Fashion Show at WWU

5 Trash Fashion Designs on the runwayQuestion: What do you get when you mix a bunch of junk with Western Washington University Industrial Design program students, professional event production staff from the College of Fine & Performing Arts? Answer: The 2013 Trash Fashion Show at W.W.U..

View our photos from the trash fashion show with behind-the-scenes dressing room shots as well on Flickr.

Trash Fashion designs: Black and White Swan

Designs included gowns and bodices made from discarded rubber, plastic, paper and metal materials. Bicycle and computer parts, electrical conduit, and old VCR tape were turned into skirts, pants. Caution tape and vinyl upholstery became haute couture. All of these designs were created in two short weeks as an assignment from Arunas Oslapas. Arunas is the lead faculty member of W.W.U.’s Industrial Design program and  long-time proponent of reclaimed materials .

Trash fashion design - Analog by Jolee Nebert He has been assigning trash fashion design projects to his students since 2010. Those designs have been strutted on the fashion runway as a part of The RE Store’s Trash Fashion Show in 2010 and 2011. Arunas continues to innovate with reused materials. He is taking a sabbatical from teaching this spring to work with a Mexican village on developing products with reclaimed materials, designed by his students. We hope to get more of the story.

We applaud WWU’s efforts to carry the torch of the Trash Fashion Show. The RE Store partnered on the event for many years, with Robin Worley, Ballard’s New York Fashion Academy, WWU and others until our final curtain in 2011. But the show has gone on, coordinated by Arunas and event production master Courtney Hiatt, the Marketing and Special Projects Manager for W.W.U.’s College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Trash Fashions - Aluminum Fox and the Hipster

Posted in: Recycled art and trash fashion, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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How The RE Store Was Created 1991-1994

Storefront compilation 1999-2013 The Bellingham RE Store opened its doors in 1993 at the corner of Kellogg and Meridian, and the Seattle location opened in 1999. Jack Weiss, a council member for the city of Bellingham, recently recalled how The RE Store was created. When Jack was working as the Whatcom County Waste Reduction and Recycling Coordinator in the early 1990s, he hired Jeff Brown as a consultant to write the County Solid Waste Management Plan. Jeff Brown was then the executive director of the non-profit Environmental Resource Services (ERS), which later became RE Sources, the parent organization of The RE Store. According to Jack, Jeff was integral in his role as the brainchild of many of ERS’s early endeavors. The same could be said about Carol Rondello, who was Jeff’s go-to for both ideas and implementation. There were a number of others back then who also deserve credit in the evolution of what eventually became The RE Store, but Jeff and Carol carried most of the water. At that time, Jeff’s plan had the weight that state growth management plans do today. A few chapters of that plan provided the framework to counter the business-as-usual approach by the waste management industry. The plan was a couple of years in the making and was finally approved in 1994. The plan went on to become a template for other counties in the state. Jack marveled that he’d “never seen any plan on any subject that was as comprehensive and forward-looking as that one.” Back in 1991, Jeff brought the idea of a reusable material exchange operation to Jack after having seen the initial success of Urban Ore in Berkeley and Hippo Hardware in Portland. During the next 18 months, the two spent quite a bit of time fleshing out the idea to the point of searching the county and city for storefront sites for a county-run operation. The idea in its purest form was to accept materials from the public or contractors prior to disposal but also to scavenge the tip floor at the two incinerators and pull out reusable items. Jack hired ERS to do a survey of what was possible on the tip floor, because the true intent of this type of operation was waste diversion, and ERS knew their stuff. Jack decided to take $30,000 out of a grant award he’d received and apply it toward seed money for a material exchange through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process. They received two responses to the RFP: one from ERS and another from County Construction Recyclers (CCR—a demolition landfill off of Hemmi Road in Bellingham, which is now closed). CCR had a good proposal, but Jack chose ERS because of their philosophical understanding of the RFP purpose. The focus was on waste diversion rather than money. Carl Weimer, now a Whatcom County council member, had at the time become the next director of ERS. After Jack signed off on the contract, Carl secured the site on Meridian where The RE Store now stands and hired Bruce Odom as manager. Ultimately, the launch of The RE Store was the result of many hands. “The one regret I have about The RE Store,” says Jack, “is that it never did fully explore waste diversion opportunities on tip floors of all types of waste, but it did establish a great salvaging operation for building materials.” As we celebrated 20 years this month, we remember Jeff Brown, Jack Weiss, Carol Rondello, Carl Weimer, Bruce Odum and everyone else who made the creation of The RE Store possible.

Posted in: Green business, Reference and resources, Stories about people, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Why blog about The RE Store?

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New Arrival – A Trusty Steed for Seattle Operations

2013-new-blue-box-truck1-webIts a boy, no wait, its a girl, no, its a diesel box truck with a lift gate! We have concluded our Truck Fund Raising Campaign that has been going since November of 2012. The new box truck with a lift gate is now serving us well in the Seattle operations. Of course, it is a used vehicle. It even came in a shade of blue. The new truck’s name is still pending but we welcome this beast of burden to the RE family.

This is huge – giving us a more reliable truck fleet to better serve you and communities throughout Washington State. Our salvage crews come to your job site, home, business, storage space or your grandpa’s crazy old barn to pick up and salvage materials. These busy bees visit over 1200 job sites each year. If the trucks break down, the crews end up wasting time and money, losing efficiency and materials. 2013 new blue box truckThat takes away from the 5 million pounds of material that The RE Store diverts every year from being wasted. Those materials also save you money when you go to buy supplies for your remodel, decoration or art project.

We have been helping transform the building industry’s practices that generate one-quarter of all trash in the U.S.. Our crews are the back up that contractors need to reduce disposal fees on job sites, saving supplies to be reused. This is how we have created our jobs at The RE Store from what would have been garbage. This is how we are moving the reuse revolution forward.

And we thank you for your help.

 

Posted in: Green business, Notes From the Field, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry

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Complete remodel of Rousseau home – restoration, reuse and daylighting

Here is a journey for you – a tale of complete remodeling of the interior and exterior over 11 years, by Katrina Roussea. This home is featured in Sustainable Connections’ 2013 Imagine This! Home and Landscape Tour. Get your tickets today for 9 homes full of green building and landscaping inspiration!

rousseau remodel collage

“When my husband and I purchased the house 13 years ago, there were elements of the Victorian design from 1905 and a major Colonial Revival renovation in 1941. We were lucky to have photos so that we could see how the house looked over the years. Apparently the house was originally located on Chestnut St near the old St Josephs Hospital location and was moved to the current location in the mid 1980’s.  Because the house had been altered so much through the years we felt that we could do a “semi-historical” renovation.  We felt that we had the flexibility to use whatever historic features we wanted to and not be constrained by any particular historical period.’

‘We have so many great resources here in Bellingham and the Pacific NW.  I also did lots of research online. Over the last 13 years I have been to many older home open houses getting ideas and asking questions.  I have also taken and collected lots of photos that were really helpful when we started to design.  We were also careful to pick a contractor who would be open to re-using old house parts and who would get what we were trying to do.  Bellingham Bay Builders has gone above and beyond in that regard.’

‘We have lived in the house for 13 years, and the house did not seem to “flow.”  Our kitchen was chopped up, passageways were blocked.  Upstairs was one tiny bathroom and two large bedrooms (one was 22 feet long) with 2 closets and one tiny bedroom with no closet.’

‘Going into the remodel we had several priorities.  

  1. Reconfigure the floor plan without adding much additional square footage to make the house flow better.  We studied the “Not So Big House” books to achieve that.  
  2. Try and re-use everything that we could from the house.  
  3. Find historical architectural artifacts and re-use those where we could
  4. Make any new materials look original. 

‘We actually started the process 11 years ago.  Once a year I had Jim Gunsolus (of Craftsman Woodworking) take out a window and I then had it stripped at the Strip Shop in Ferndale. The Glass house Co.in Ferndale would restore the leaded glass. Gunsolus then restored the ropes and weights and re-did the trim using old fir that he got from The RE Store.  The effect was stunning and the cost about the same as if we had replaced the windows with new good quality wooden ones.  At about the same time we wanted to put in a gas fireplace, which we did after I found a 100 year old mantle piece that came out of a house in Texas.  The fun for me in these previous projects was that people thought these things were all original to the house.

‘In preparation for the current renovations, I have spent the last year looking for house parts and finding homes for the house parts that we were not going to use. The best items included:

  • 7 vintage doors, at Second Use in Seattle, that came from a house in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  I needed exactly 7 doors and there they were!  I then advertised the doors that I wasn’t going to use on Craigslist and a lady from Blaine who was restoring an old farmhouse was delighted to get them.  
  • A classic 3 panel door that was the exact size that we needed in the kitchen from The RE Store. We also found a nice glass doorknob and lever door set from The RE Store but we are re-using most of our old door hardware.  
  • A pair of antique leaded glass French doors from Second Use in Seattle
  • Vintage hemlock flooring from Earthwise in Seattle – some of the boards were 14 feet long from an old house in Wallingford.  
  • An antique newel post was scored from Skagit Salvage. Gunsolus was able to make a smaller one to match it upstairs.  You can’t tell which is old and which is new.

Surprises in the house included:

  • Historical memorabilia like a child’s homework project that was dated 1908 behind a cupboard. 
  • Stripping the built in cupboards revealed beautiful old growth fir beneath all of the layers of paint. 
  • We figured out how to re-use my favorite door as a pocket door. 
  • Structural beams that had to be added upstairs became a wonderful part of the house. 

The project also included a full replacement of the siding and bringing natural light into the home. Dylan Hicks of Bellingham Bay Builders shared more about the project.

“Designer Deborah Todd worked closely with John and Karina to conceive of the remodel and produced detailed permit drawings. Daylighting was a prime goal of the interior remodel, removing light-blocking interior partitions on the top floor.   New modern windows, multiple new skylights and a creative light plan will ensure a bright interior environment. We removed the three existing layers of siding, replaced windows that were beyond repair and weatherized the shell. We applied new exterior trim and siding to closely match the photo from 1927.”

Karina concluded, “I think my biggest piece of advice to anyone working on their old house is to figure out a way to stay true to your house, even if it means that you have to do things slowly.”

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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A Young RE Store Rockstar builds her own Tiny House of Salvage

Celina's tiny house under constructionThis RE Store Rockstar is one industrious young lady.  Celina Dill, 17, is building her 10’ x 18’ x 14’ high tiny house, on wheels, entirely out of reused and repurposed materials. Inspired by the Tiny House Movement she is ‘unschooling’ herself by diving into all the trades it takes to make a project like this come to life.

She is an obsessed builder right now, with the goal of moving into her cottage in August. Items acquired from The RE Store include: “The Toilet of her Dreams” (really!), which has a 3/4″ tilt on the lid area; her ‘really cool’ front door, which is being refinished as we speak; a window or two, and the latest purchase: French doors. Since Celina’s walls are thinner than the walls the door set came from, they needed to do some tricky Skilsawing of the frame, reducing their width by 1 1/2″. She has also acquired items from Second Use, Earthwise, and Skagit Building Salvage.

I’ll let her words tell the rest of the story, since among her many talents are great story telling and photography.  More about Celina’s Tiny Abode can be found at http://mytinyabode.blogspot.com/. Many pictures of her project can be seen on these pages.

It seems Celina comes from a long line of industrious folks.  Her dad, Walter Dill, also has a ‘home on wheels’ project in the works – a 1956 Airfloat Land Yacht.  He uses reclaimed materials as well, and found lights for the interior at The RE Store that have yet to found their actual location.

Thanks to both Celina and Walter for inspiring us with their Rockstar Projects!  Do you have a RE Store-inspired project to be proud of?  Please, show off & share your story!

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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PSE’s Re-Energized by Design winners – designing around reuse

Scott and Nia Sayers spent the last six months winning a competition that remodeled their home’s interior, benefitted their family and their professional lives, all while designing around reuse. That contest was Puget Sound Energy’s Re-Energized by Design challenge that pitted six households against each other in a contest that we quote here from the PSE site:

“Re-Energized by Design is a ‘design show’ style competition, where six PSE customers are competing in a series of five room-by-room makeover challenges to combine creative home design with energy efficiency. After each challenge, one contestant is eliminated. PSE provides contestants with a weekly cash allowance, energy-efficient products, and a design coach to help implement stylish energy-efficient home upgrades.”

Designing with reuse - Nia Sayers Window Display - Bubble TubThe Sayers have been designing around reuse for many years. Nia Sayers did window displays at The RE Store in Bellingham in 2008 and 2009. Nia came up with inspiring concepts like a salvaged claw-foot bathtub full of light globes and lightbulbs as bubbles.

Nia Sayers Serving table displayThen there was her outdoor serving table that she built from a table base rescued from the brink of the landfill. Click on the photo thumbnails for full-sized photos. Nia has taught workshops on DIY skills like recovering upholstery and her idea for this project is downloadable here.

Scott Sayers - Chevy Chase - Recycled Arts Show 2013Scott just had pieces in both Bellingham galleries for the 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show. If you missed his perfect rendering of Chevy Chase in negative relief that was cut out of duct tape, the photo doesn’t do it justice. Scott said that for the Re-Energized by Design competition that “The RE Store was our secret weapon.”

When asked about how all of the remodeling of the family’s home wrapped up, Nia said, “We still have some projects to finish up.”

And don’t we all…

Check out the Re-Energized by Design website for all of the stories, more resources for saving money and making a home more efficient. You might pick up some creative and clever ways to improve home interiors and make it more energy-efficient. And learn more about Nia on her site, SummerLandStyle.com.

Posted in: Green business, RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Video posts, You can do it yourself

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Building Deconstruction, Green Demolition and Decon ’13

State Street warehouse seriesIf someone asked you what deconstruction is, would you respond:

  1. A complex philosophical movement about meaning that started in France in the 1960’s
  2. A new way of salvaging construction supplies from structures that are being demolished
  3. The age-old method of recovering useful building materials from an existing building

If you answered 3, you are correct. The Roman Empire dismantled and reused ancient Egyptian architectural elements and other building materials over 2000 years ago. They repurposed construction supplies, known as spolia, from throughout the many lands they conquered. Building deconstruction has become a movement in North America over the last 2 decades. The top five reasons are:

  1. Green building has become well-documented as a wiser way to build and remodel structures for all types of use
  2. Resources and commodities have increased in cost
  3. Waste disposal has become more expensive
  4. Design and decor trends have grown the public interest in reclaimed materials
  5. The “D.I.Y.” movement has become hugely popular across television, radio, print and online channels

Decon 13 logoThe deconstruction movement is spreading as businesses, tool research and development, national conferences and case studies all add fuel to the fire. The deconstruction industry’s largest conference, Decon ’13 is hosted by the Building Materials Reuse Association. The event happens this week in Seattle with a wide range of topics that include:

  • Designing for buildings to be deconstructed
  • Historic preservation
  • Deconstruction work force training and education
  • Use of low-value materials
  • Negotiating and permitting deconstruction projects
  • The RE Store’s REvision Division will present our innovative and award-winning furniture building program

You would be hard pressed to find a better source of information, best practices, great networking and much more. Come and be a part of the movement this week, whether you are a builder, architect, demolition contractor, salvager, government project manager, politician or average joe working to stay abreast of the latest building industry trends. The RE Store has over 13 years of experience taking down buildings, including case studies on our website. Contact us today for a bid on your project. What topics would you like to learn about, in regards to deconstruction?

Posted in: Green business, Reference and resources, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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Salvaged Items & Rich History of Sanborn Building in Old Ballard: Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

Sandborn Bldg salvage image collage

The RE Store’s Seattle field crew had the recent privilege of salvaging the stately, if not slightly dilapidated, G.B. Sanborn building on historical Ballard Avenue. The three story Romanesque structure was named in honor of Ballard businessman Gustavus B. Sanborn (G.B. to his friends) and opened its doors as a hardware store in 1901. Unfortunately, ol’ G.B. passed away shortly thereafter; however, his building has lived on in various forms, including stints as a department store and even a dry goods company.

Thankfully, the Sanborn’s future will remain secure. As of April, the 102 year old structure was undergoing an extensive and well-deserved retrofit that will preserve much of its original character. The project’s contractor enlisted Ballard’s own RE Store to salvage interior fixtures that were otherwise slated for the debris pile.

Items at the top of our architectural salvage list, and at the top of two flights of stairs, included the Sanborn’s original compliment of ornate cast-iron radiators, cast-iron wall mount sinks, fir panel doors, tin-clad swinging doors, and claw-foot tubs. For those of you wondering why antique claw-foot tubs are so expensive, it’s because they’re typically removed from the second floor of a building with plenty of rickety stairs and no elevator.

We began our salvage of the Sanborn by removing over two-dozen original fir panel doors complete with their true 4”x4” jambs. The field crew typically uses a reciprocating saw to cut through the nails that secure the doorjamb to the studs, but it’s sometimes preferable to do it the old fashioned way with a large pry bar. Using the pry bar reduces the amount of dust emitted into the air and eliminates the sparking and friction caused by cutting through nails and shims. Once removed, the door and jamb are screwed together for safer handling.

Because schlepping around two-dozen hung doors wasn’t enough fun, we moved on to radiators. After all, cast-iron radiators and stairs go together like peanut butter and jelly.  The most practical way to move a radiator down a flight of stairs is by securing it to a hand truck. There is a brief thrill of mechanical advantage as you wheel the iron beast to the edge of the landing, but then you go over the falls, and it all comes down to good old person power. In all, the Seattle field crew removed over a dozen cast-iron radiators, but it felt like a lot more.

Inevitably, the process of salvaging an old building like the Sanborn will reveal bits of local history and even a record of changing tastes. For example, we unearthed two beautiful sets of sliding fir library doors that had been totally encased behind closets built out from the walls. Like the current renovations to the Sanborn, these changes may have been made to make the space more inhabitable or may have been an individual preference. Whatever the case, The RE Store was happy to be involved in saving a little bit of Ballard’s history, no matter how heavy it was and how many stairs were involved.

Come check out all the loot brought back from this historical Old Ballard Ave building – most of the items are at the Seattle store, but Bellingham received some of the 5 and 6 panel doors last week.  Keep up with other ‘cool new things in the stores’ by signing up for our e-newsletter, Salvage Times here.   

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Show Us Your Junk – 2013 Call for Recycled Art & Functional Designs

Recycled Art piece - Jubilee by Julia HaackOne of the harbingers of Spring is The RE Store’s annual Call for Recycled Art and Functional Designs. The RE Store’s Recycled Arts Show will bring fresh examples of fine art and useful things for it’s 12th year. Galleries this year include:

  • Blowing Sands Studio and the Laura Frost Fine Arts Gallery in Seattle (Ballard)
  • Allied Arts of Whatcom County in downtown Bellingham
  • The RE Store in Bellingham.

The Bellingham galleries will exhibit during the month of April. The Seattle gallery show runs from mid-April until mid-May.

You may experience wonder or amusement at people’s creativity and fabrication skills after seeing something like Jubilee by Julia Haack (above).

You may question our wasteful ways after seeing pieces like Kuros Zahedi’s “A Glimmer of Hope” (below – represents only a small portion of the piece that took up an entire pallet)

Recycled Art - A Glimmer of Hope by Kuros ZahediAnd we want to see whats been brewing in your studio, garage, or right on your kitchen table. We welcome submissions from Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia province. The deadline is March 1, 2013 by 11:59PM for online submissions. Mail-in submissions must be postmarked by March 1 for. There is a $10 fee for submitting up to 3 pieces. Get all the details at the following links:

Call for Submissions for Seattle Recycled Arts Show
Submit your recycled art or functional design pieces to show at Blowing Sands Studio in Ballard. Deadline: March 1, 2013 by 11:59 PM

Call for Submissions for Bellingham Recycled Arts Show
Submit your recycled art or functional design pieces to show at Allied Arts of Whatcom County or The RE Store. Deadline: March 1, 2013 by 11:59 PM

Posted in: Recycled art and trash fashion, You can do it yourself

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