Posts Tagged Materials and Supplies

Treasures from an 1880s Bellevue Homestead

bellevue ranch collage

The Seattle field crew recently salvaged some architectural details and furniture (corbels, columns, mail sorting table, chairs, barrels can be seen in the above photos) from a barn on property that is one of the very earliest homesteads on the east side of Lake Washington. The original 20-acre homestead was established in 1884, located east of Yarrow Bay in Bellevue. The property has been in the current owners family since 1919 when their great-grandfather purchased it – now referred to as The “Ranch”.  The homestead first operated as a dairy and fruit orchard into the 1930’s. When the owner’s parents moved into the homestead as newlyweds in September of 1940, the property had been vacant or rented during the later part of the Depression.  Happily it had remained largely unharmed with much of the furniture, barn, and outbuildings intact.  As a young civil engineer, the current owner’s father began the remodeling of the old Victorian house after WWII that was originally building in 1880s, devoting the bulk of his spare time over the next 50 years to the eternal project of renovating the house for his growing family, then maintaining the property. The original homestead cabin remained on the upper part of the property as well until the 1990’s – and these architectural details we brought back to the store from both buildings had been carefully stored in the barn since the 1950s.  Come check them out!  

 

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Serendipity at The RE Store

IMG_2212We love a little serendipity here at The RE Store – and we recently had one of those moments at the Seattle store where just the right item was no longer needed in its home at the exact moment that it was needed in a new place.  Our crew backed up the truck to the store from a day in the field, and unloaded a set of French doors from a 1909 West Seattle house.  The door set was still leaning on the back edge of the truck as Bruce, the owner of Comstock Apartments – a 1909 building on Queen Anne – walked into the bay of the store in need of some doors, with the exact dimensions of this set that just came in. He wanted to keep with the original look of the apartment and building – and found it here, just off the truck! As many of you know, and our door sections can attest, most anything built in the Northwest before the mid-last-century was not of a standard size.  So to find the exact size, from the same year/era building at that moment must have been fate.

You never know what might be waiting for you – come to either store to see if that hard-to-find item is here!  

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World’s Market Waste IS a “Local” Resource

by Eberhard Eichner,  REvision Division Lead Designer/Builder at The RE Store in Bellingham

This is the season where even the best of us can get bit by the shop-and-buy bug. It is also the season for reflection. These two, seemingly contradictory endeavors can go together, when our thinking/shopping habits include the notion of “repurpose”.

When our trees are cut, and ships are loaded with them for far away countries whose economies with cheap labor manufacture ready to assemble furniture components and other items to send back to us – we have also shipped off the pride in our own ability to craft and build. That can suck us down into depression. Not only for the loss of our jobs and skills and the undervaluing of theirs; or for the exploitation of human and environmentally resources globally; but also for the ultimate waste that happens when we consume to excess. What a burden we have taken on in believing we have a duty to consume new goods in order to spike the graph of limitless growth! Even when we shop sincerely for the things that make us functional, cozy and secure (a basic human need!) – what is happening to all the stuff that doesn’t make quality control anyway, that isn’t of consistent stain color, hole pattern and size, or just ‘outdated?

You may be boarding my thought train now, headed for the landfills in those same denuded hills or, more cynically, another way of “outsourcing”- sending the now jettisoned flotsam by barge to more “disposable” locations. But wait! There is a station called “Repurpose”, where we can stop this train wreck in the making and divert it’s direction to a more viable goal.

Repurpose is the grown-up sibling of Recycling. Though recycling is a respectable way of saving our planet and resources by properly disposing and regurgitating our wastes into “new-and-raw-again” materials for production, it is still quite energy and resource intensive.  Repurposing is the way of direct conversion that increasingly can be seen in our communities. It’s the growing trend of artisans, craftspeople, manufacturers and do-it-yourselfers to turn the waste of our market economy, including the “global”, directly into imaginative re-uses by simply converting the components with no or little alterations into new items of stunning beauty. We honor the efforts, resources and energies spent. We continue the story of making, rather then trash it. We have fun!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And it is done here, locally – yes, jobs and the “stuff” –  case in point is a load of imported, yet orphaned parts from an Asian furniture manufacturer once designed to be bed headboards, rails and drawer fronts. Now they are REvisioned by virtually no cutting or refinishing into bookcases (photo above), stand-up desks, storage shelves and for “new” components to hall benches and more at The RE Store.  These and more can be viewed on The RE Store’s website galleries.

‘Tis the season, alright, to reflect on what we consider waste, how we can use it as local resource and turn it into good, for good.

Get inspired to do your own re-creations.  Shop local, shop repurposed.

 

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Ebbets Field Flannels Updated with (Way)Back-to-school Materials


ebbets field salvage retail displays

Ebbets Field Flannels has been hand-crafting authentic reproductions of baseball shirts, caps, and more from historic teams all around the country – from right in the heart of Pioneer Square in Seattle.  To celebrate their 25 years in business, they have a brand new facility and retail store on Jackson.  Almost all of the details and displays are salvaged and repurposed – including lighting fixtures, globes, crates, benches, and lockers.  And many of the build-out details are made from bleacher board made of Southern Pine that The RE Store brought back this summer from Prairie High School in Battleground, Washington.  This dense yellow pine, most likely installed in its original use in the 1960s, has a new life as many great warm details throughout the space in their caps storage, rack tops, counters and more.  They’ve also built table tops out of a piece of bowling alley that found its way back to The RE Store – having already had a repurposed life before this latest incarnation.

 EFF_25th_Anniv_flyer

To celebrate 25 years and a new space, Ebbets is hosting an open house this Friday evening – complete with beer and dogs.  Check out the invite above – all are invited!  It is a great space to get some REuse inspiration.  Get inspired and then come find that special material for your own projects in Ballard or Bellingham!
www.ebbets.com

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

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Finding the Love of a New (Salvaged) Toilet – A Volunteer’s Story

Lately, I may have been judging my toilet too harshly. At this point, we’re barely even speaking.  But I’m upside-down in my bathroom once again, and it’s literally staring me in the face. My bathroom’s too small; I can’t escape it. I’m trying to not think about it, but there it is again:

My toilet is a ticking time bomb. That thing has got to go.

I finish blow-drying my hair upside-down and set myself right-side up again. Once I’ve broken eye contact, if I’m really honest about it, I’ll admit it: My old toilet’s probably … perfectly fine. It’s adequate for its purposes; everything works, and, although I have no real way to know for sure, it likely does the job just as well as any other average toilet. In fact, it’s probably a little better than average. My bathroom’s done in yellow tile with one thin, pale blue stripe of tile running around the room at about shoulder height. And there, running around the top of the toilet tank, is an almost perfectly matching, thin, pale blue stripe. I mean, whoever installed the toilet went out of their way to make sure it matched. Nice! I’m someone who appreciates attention to detail, but if it were me, I’m not sure I would have gone to the trouble. If I were a little more generous some mornings, I’d at least give my toilet extra points for style.

But then, as I was volunteering down at The RE Store the other day, I saw it: my dream toilet. And unlike the last time I saw it glittering under the hot lights of a showroom floor, it’s at a price I’d actually be willing to pay for something I spend so little time with. And as an added bonus, it’s salvaged, which is one of my favorite things. Unfortunately, the very fact of its existence has begun to make me uncharacteristically discontent. As a result, every time I’m alone in the bathroom, looking at that thin, pale blue stripe through a curtain of damp hair as I move the blow-dryer around, I’m just a little … unaccountably … suspicious.

photo (1)

The object of Christine’s affection – American Standard Hatbox Toilet at The RE Store: $100.

 

Let me be perfectly clear: I’m not one of those people who buys things for no good reason. Every time I read a magazine article that tells you to replace your fill-in-the-blank with an environmentally sustainable fill-in-the-blank, I automatically edit the sentence in my head to say, “When your fill-in-the-blank is no longer even vaguely useful, not even as a planter (or a coat rack, door prop, garden ornament, etc.), consider replacing it with an environmentally sustainable fill-in-the-blank.”

But then, every morning it’s the same thing: I’m upside-down in my bathroom, blow-drying my hair, and I start to notice things about my toilet that no one should ever be close enough to their toilet to notice. There’s a faint stain on one of the bolts holding it to the floor that just might be the beginning of rust. Is that rivulet of moisture running down the side of it the beginning of a leak, or is that just general moisture from the shower? Is that a hairline fracture starting along the base? I squint at it, swirling my hair out of the way with the blow dryer. Uh, no. It’s just a … well, never mind.

The point is, I’m trying to not let some fancy toilet sway me from my staunch conviction to not consume needlessly. But some mornings, based on whatever imaginary flaw I’m sure I’ve just spotted on my perfectly innocent toilet, I’m filled with less conviction than others. I’m kind of hoping someone will restore my relationship with my tried-and-true by snatching up my dream toilet at The RE Store, so the next time I’m upside-down in my bathroom, my toilet and I will be on speaking terms again.

Come see what might become your object of affection at the stores this week!  Special thanks to Christine Clifton-Thornton for authoring this article.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Cheri Kopp – Mixed Media Artist and Repurposer of Unconventional Objects

When I called Cheri Kopp, a Seattle mixed-media artist, about interviewing her for The RE Store website, she told me she thought it would be better if I visited her at her home, where she creates her art. “Seeing is believing,” she said. And she was right.

The first thing I noticed about Cheri when I met her in her studio was the unassailable confidence with which she talks about her work. She’s very articulate about what she does and how she does it. In my experience, that confidence is somewhat unusual for an artist, I tell her. “I just have a very strong sense about my art. I’m very focused, and I believe in what I’m doing.”

Artist Cheri Kopp and Shrine to Unfinished Projects

Artist Cheri Kopp (left) wearing her assemblage necklace”Beach Wear” made of shells, pieces of de-constructed jewelry, and leftover beads. She is sitting in her the “little house in my backyard”, built by recycling/salvage craftsman/builder extraordinaire, John Akers. “Shrine To Unfinished Projects 1” is on the right.

 

Cheri uses all cast-off materials in her art, and she found early inspiration at The RE Store. “One of my favorite pieces, Shrine to Unfinished Projects 1, includes materials I found at the store,” she says. Shrines description from Cheri:

Incorporating red envelopes (a.k.a. lucky paper) from monetary gifts from my first marriage, this piece is meant for personal reflection. True to my reuse/recycle aesthetic, the shrine pieces came from a Shinto shrine that was converted into an entertainment center. The kitchen cabinet and pull were salvaged; the paint left-over from a fence project and the mirror is a thrift-store find.”

While all of her pieces share elements of mixed media mosaics or assemblages that share a 3D sculptural quality, the scope of her work is broad ranging, and perhaps that’s one reason she has found some success. She is always looking at used things with new eyes, and is always open to inspiration.

materials bins and foil yogurt tops quilt

Cheri’s bins of organized cast off materials (left) and “Not Your Grandma’s Flower Garden Quilt” made of foil tops from food containers, appeared in the 2011 Seattle Recycled Arts Show.

 

Cheri’s basement and garage are filled with numerous bins and containers (above, left) of very neatly organized cast-off materials that she has either found or generated as a result of household consumption—in other words, trash. She collects whatever strikes her fancy. “I have no idea how I’m going to use any item, until one day it all just comes to me.” She has collections of plastic caps and lids sorted by color; foil yogurt tops, all washed and neatly flattened (see more about this piece in the caption, above, right); popsicle sticks that have been run through the dishwasher; a cluster of multicolored hair bands, often picked up while walking in her Ravenna neighborhood; beach items trekked home from walks along the shores; and other seemingly random items too numerous to name. “I’m almost a hoarder,” she laughs. I assure her that hoarders are far less organized than she is. Her collections of working materials are almost unobtrusive in the rooms in which they’re housed.

you are what you eat and ART

Left to right – “You Are What You Eat”, “Can’t Top Vegan” and “Mostly Organic” – two of which have been in The RE Store’s Recycled Arts Shows over the years. And marquee letters found at The RE Store, now in Cheri’s studio.

 

Cheri’s first art show was the Fifth Annual Recycled Art and Fashion Show at The Seattle RE Store in 2006. She entered her compelling piece entitledYou Are What You Eat. She has since gone on to exhibit in 24 juried and/or curated group shows, 13 group shows, and one solo show. Her work was recently included in the Center on Contemporary Art’s (CoCA) Collision curated show, on display through September 14th, with 150 other artists from across the country and Switzerland, and her work is currently available for viewing at the group show The Meaning of Wood at The Rose Center Art Gallery at Lower Columbia College in Longview, WA. You can find out more about Cheri at her website, www.cherikopp.com.

 

Special thanks to Christine Clifton-Thornton for authoring this article.

 

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

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Summer Kicked-Off with a Carport Deconstruction – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

Summer is here! And that means that the weather is perfect for barbeques, the beach, and even deconstructing a carport. Yes, a carport. At least that’s what The RE Store’s Seattle field crew did on its summer vacation.

field crew deconstructing

You may already know that The RE Store will pick up and/or salvage your reusable building materials for free in the greater Puget Sound area. But did you know that we also offer green demolition services for select projects? The goal of green demolition (or “deconstruction”) is to salvage as much reusable material as possible, while mitigating waste and environmental impact.

With these goals in mind, an aging carport in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood became the perfect candidate for summer deconstruction. We started from the top by stripping off the old torch-down tarpaper roofing; incidentally, this was the only real waste created during the entire project. Next, we pulled the plywood sheathing from the rafters and then removed and lowered the rafters themselves onto our trusty truck Possum.

I should mention that we parked Possum (one of our trusty flat-bed trucks) directly under the carport and worked from it like a scaffold. This provided a stable work platform and allowed us to load salvaged materials immediately upon removal. This is not the first time that Possum has served as part scaffold and part workbench. We even roped the carport’s vertical support beams directly to Possum’s side gates to keep the structure stable as we pulled it apart (MacGyver would be proud).

possum the truck as scaffolding

Surprisingly, most people don’t like to buy lumber that’s full of nails and staples. Thus, we typically “de-nail” all lumber onsite and this carport deconstruction was no exception. Larger nails must be removed the old fashioned way with pry bars or hammers. Smaller nails, however, can be extracted with a pneumatic nail-kicker. The nail kicker is essentially a reengineered nail gun that is placed on the point end of a nail to shoot it free of the work piece.

With the exception of a circular saw to cut a few beams down to length, we deconstructed the entire carport with hand tools and elbow grease. From start to finish, the process took five people approximately four hours, and it yielded twenty sheets of plywood, twenty-five 2”x10”x18’ boards, four 6”x6”x10’ posts, and an assortment of smaller lumber. We recycled all unsellable materials, such as old aluminum rain gutters, flashing, and the pounds of removed nails and others fasters.

loose beams ready for The RE Store

The RE Store’s green demolition services are well suited to standalone structures, such as garages, carports, sheds, and similar outbuildings. These types of structures can be dismantled efficiently with person power and hand tools and typically yield less waste. As an added bonus, green demolition of such buildings creates a supply of quality, reduced-cost building materials for re-consumption by the public.

Contact our crews in Seattle or Bellingham here:  http://re-store.org/contact-us/

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

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Whale Skeletons, Recycled Building Supplies and Custom Designs

Whale skeleton with REvision Division Display

“Using recycled materials is in line with our mission,” says Cindy Hansen. “One way to help the whales is by helping the environment, which is something kids can wrap their heads around. It’s something easy they can do.”

Cindy is a zoologist and the Education Curator at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. For more than 34 years, the museum’s mission is Promoting stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research. The museum is home to two gray whale skeletons: one hangs from the ceiling, and the other can be put together like a giant puzzle on the floor. Last year, the museum’s gray whale project was in need of a new display when Cindy happened upon Eberhard Eichner and the REvision Division booth at the Green Village during the San Juan County Fair. Eberhard, The RE Store’s designer/builder, launched the REvision Division two years ago, taking orders for custom building projects using recycled materials for businesses, home owners, and organizations. The Whale Museum received a grant for the gray whale exhibit, and they commissioned Eberhard and the REvision Division to design, build, and help install the interactive/interpretative information station.

Cindy, Jenny (the museum’s Executive Director), and Jill (Communications Manager) met with Eberhard in Bellingham to discuss the project, and, “As the four of us were talking, it all fell together.” Cindy said they had envisioned something with several panels on it, but it was Eberhard’s idea to work with the materials that he used: a door and a table at the center of the design, and louver doors as a decorative touch. “We decided to use those to display trivia cards, which are a huge hit,” she said.

whale museum display in the shop

Eberhard described the process and the result: “In three design, planning, and feedback sessions, we developed a very unique and functional display.  The components are still clearly recognizable parts of former uses and purposes.”

Says Eberhard of the design, “I was after a whale/maritime/Pacific Rim theme, and a compliment to the magnificent skeleton above. I made very few cuts or alterations to the original size, shape, and appearance of the components. It was a process of true collage and fitting matching pieces to each other.”

“The top “whale’s tail” panel came from a bed headboard and is floating on and among stacked “low tide rocks”, a.k.a. furniture legs.

“Eberhard was great to work with. He was so great at listening to our thoughts and suggestions,” said Cindy.

The grant that The Whale Museum got for building the gray whale display also included some funds for bringing students from low-income schools out to San Juan Island to see it and participate in the gray whale skeleton articulation program. Some of the students had never been on a ferry before. The program and display really complement each other and has been a hit with the students and teachers. Cindy said, “We’ve gotten so many great, great comments on it! It’s been a really popular exhibit.”

You can see the whale skeleton and the custom display at The Whale Museum, of course, and also on its website.

 

The REvision Division has built, among other things, a puppet theater for the Lummi Island Library, custom furniture for an elderly retirement house, and a picnic table for a dog park.

You can get a free 15-minute consultation on your reclaimed materials project—anything from full remodels to simple DIY projects:
In Seattle on the third Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
In Bellingham on the first Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. beginning in September, 2013

And you can find The RE Store educational DIY videos on the REvision Division page.

 

Special thanks to Christine Clifton-Thornton for authoring this article.

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.

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