Posts Tagged strange tales

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.

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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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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The 2012 End of The World Window Display & Video

In the spirit of light(ness) during this holiday season, we celebrate the kooky cacophony of doomsayers and hopefuls with a tongue-in-cheek window display at The RE Store in Bellingham as we pass through another apocalyptic date, 12/21/2012.

  • Shabby crabby bomb shelter decor blending vintage survival gear with reclaimed building materials
  • Paranoid protection wear on Calamity Jane contrasted by Skippy’s celebration finery
  • Basic food staples displayed in opposition to large quantities of sugary junk food
  • Out in the big world, threatening end-of-the-world prophetic warnings counter-balance with inspirational messages of the new Mayan calendar cycle that begins.

Please take our attempts at lightness as they are intended.

Now can we all get on with it?

“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.”

~ R.E.M.

Special thanks to Dana Lyons and John Seed for song permission in our funky little video!

Posted in: Recycled art and trash fashion, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Video posts

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Meet the Fleet – Trucks, Trailers and Moving Stuff Around

Truck collageWe like to move stuff around just as much as any American. The thing that The RE Store does differently is that each load that we carry on our trucks save precious building materials from the brink of doom by way of landfill or incinerator. It is a lot of work and we love it. Our crews drive over 100,000 miles each year if you combine all six of our trucks that roam throughout Western Washington and occasionally East of the mountains.

We have our weekly “truck love” maintenance schedule that insures our trusty steeds stay watered, fed and in as good a condition as we can keep them. Neither of the Seattle trucks have a lift gate. We use ramps or brute strength to get everything on and off and on and off and on and off every day. The trucks have hauled materials from job sites that include homes, businesses and storage facilities. We carry amazing reuse displays to trade shows or haul our Recycled Art Station to community events. The trucks have even hauled tons of trash picked up from our beach clean-up projects as a part of the annual Recycled Arts Show. We utilize biodiesel in our diesel trucks and work to minimize storm water run off from our job sites.

As is true to our car culture, The RE Store’s fleet of trucks all have their own personalities:

Lily the truckLily is a 2000 Ford F250 Crew Cab pickup with over 133,000 miles.
She is lily-white and is the truck that up to six of our Bellingham crew travels in. Lilly witnesses the most progressive conversations and brainstorms, due to her community-building roomy interior. She also carries lots of tools, but not a huge amount of materials. She loves to pull trailers and heave large timbers on her beefy rack. We wonder if she is a pig at heart, as she gets stuck in the mud all too often with her out-of-commission four wheel drive. Lilly has has spent a lot of time on overnight projects out in the San Juan Islands. Bellingham crew member, Charlie Myers, slept in Lilly’s back seat on a Lopez Island job site for four nights. His tent had collapsed under a downpour, so he made due in Lily.

Herman is a 2006 GMC-Isuzu 12-foot box van with over 137,000 miles.
Herman is the heavy lifter with a lift gate, allowing one crew member to do a lot of work and keep stuff dry. Herman is our workhorse and is the newest member of our fleet. He was an exciting replacement, 2 years ago, for our old open bed pickup, Graywolf. He is named after Mt. Herman that located close to Mt. Baker (big and white). Some of our staff wonder if Herman has a crush on Lily.

Blue truckBlue is a 1997 Chevy 3500 with a 12-foot flatbed, the oldest and most tired of our hard-working Bellingham fleet with a whopping 187,000 miles as of October 2012.
Blue has hauled millions of pounds (seriously) of lumber and large items back from thousands of job sites over the years. You name it, Blue has carried it. We have rebuilt the gates twice that close in the sides out of bleacher boards and rebuilt the bed once, out of salvaged 2×6 tongue and groove decking, all on our own. When Blue’s rear steel gates went missing, former crew member Gabe Gonzalez welded up new ones for us.

Possum, the truckPossum is a white, 2001 Isuzu flatbed with over 120,000 miles on the odometer.
We have had Possum for close to a decade. He was named Possum because a possum was living in the Seattle store that evaded capture for weeks. This trusty steed has hauled from more than 2000 job sites. Every brick load over the last seven years came back to the Seattle store on Possum’s strong back. Possums gates are made out of our bleacher board and the deck currently needs replacement, like Blue received.

Fuso, the truckFuso is a white 1994 Mitsubishi flatbed that we put a dump bed on with 175,000 miles.
Fuso has been the main green demolition / deconstruction truck thanks to the dump bed that we installed after buying it in 2007. 15 or more houses have been deconstructed and hauled back to the store in Fuso. This is our only Seattle truck with a working radio, and it rarely is changed from KEXP or KUOW radio stations. Fuso’s side gates are also built out of our favorite wide-plank lumber material, bleacher boards. These bleacher boards sport a patina that could only be created by decades of wiggling and giggling adololescents during their school assemblies and sports events.

Clutch, the truckClutch is a white 1989 Nissan pickup that was donated to our organization in 2002 with over 160,000 miles now.
Clutch is the scout for our Seattle field services and sees the most mileage of all of our trucks. This old friend previews between 1200 and 1500 jobs. Clutch doesn’t have a working radio, so Clutch hears a lot of Joel, our Seattle field manager, talking to himself. Clutch proudly wears the rack that lived formerly on our previous preview rig, Scout.
Before serving The RE Store, Clutch was used by our parent non-profit, RE Sources, for hauling recycling education materials to hundreds of Whatcom County school classrooms.

Visit our Field Services pages to get a free bid from our Pick-upSalvage Strip-Out, and Green Demolition “Deconstruction” Services

Check out this great examples of alternative transportation in the construction industry with local remodelers, A-1 Builders, in Bellingham, commuting to a major remodel job site via bicycle. Read the article on page 16 of American Bicyclist.

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

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Fire Fighter Forcible Entry Training With Reclaimed Doors

Fire fighter forcible entry training photoThe Bellingham Fire Department was established in 1904. Their well-seasoned department supports fire fighter training for many of the districts in Whatcom County Washington. Annual “Forcible Entry Training” uses props to simulate locked buildings that the crews must break into, in case a fire requires rescue access to the inside of a building.

The Bellingham Fire Department uses salvaged materials from The RE Store and Overhead Door Company to help reduce costs in their training exercises. It also makes good sense to utilize already used doors that will be destroyed anyways in the training exercises. Watch these brave and highly regarded men and women in the following video as they keep themselves fit and ready for the next emergency.

If your community group or business needs materials, The RE Store welcomes your requests for building materials, gift certificates for fundraising events and other in-kind support.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Video posts, Why blog about The RE Store?

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Appliance Soap Box Derby video – crashes, injuries & mayhem

Our friends at Appliance Depot know how to have a good time, even if it means spilling a little blood. Refrigerators, stoves, washers and random appliance parts became vehicles racing down Maple Street in Bellingham. The annual Appliance Art Revival & Derby celebrates reuse, creativity and the good work that Appliance Depot does, rebuilding appliances and providing job training in Bellingham, Washington. Yours truly at The RE Store sponsored the Revival, including recording and editing this wacky video!

Thanks to Matt McDonald of innations.com for supplying the missing epic “crash into the crowd” photo footage and to Adam Nash Photography for the fork failure shots of Blue Steel and others.

Are you bold enough to race next year? Awwww, come on.

Posted in: Green business, Recycled art and trash fashion, Stories about stuff, Video posts, You can do it yourself

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Four galleries of recycled art and a third-grade welder

What happens when you mix an arc welder, an eight-year old boy, and a handy grandfather? You found out if you visited Bellingham’s Allied Arts gallery in April, one of four galleries in The RE Store’s 11th Annual Recycled Arts Show. This year’s multi-city exhibition attracted professional and semi-professional submissions from a talented pool of regional artists, designers, makers along with a unique entry from Culver Bontrager.

2012 Bellingham Recycled Arts Gallery collage

2012 Bellingham Recycled Arts Show Galleries at Allied Arts and The RE Store. Culver (in red) at top center. Click to enlarge.

Culver’s welded piece, Mr. Bones, dangled from an 8-foot high hook, with articulating joints. He would dance if you got the whole thing swaying ([GASP!] PLEASE do not touch or dance the artwork, sir!). Culver started doing metal fabrication with his handy grandfather, Romeo Gonyea when he was seven.  Romeo has been doing metal fabrication for a majority of his life along with “heavy equipment, wood working, cabinetry and pretty much anything else that needs to get done” according to Romeo’s daughter and Culver’s mother, Melana Bontrager. She remembers dumpster diving in industrial areas with her dad when she was young, pulling out things that he would fix and sell “for a few bucks.”

2012 Seattle Recycled Art Gallery Collage

2012 Seattle Recycled Art Gallery

Culver and his grandfather now make the rounds of scrap and junk yards in Everett and Lynnwood, looking for old car and farm equipment parts for Culver’s projects.  Culver is an avid lego fan and technical little guy. “He is very detailed in building things and great at sticking with the details. His attention span is longer than most kids his age,” says his mother, Melana Bontrager, who has shown her own artwork in galleries around the greater Puget Sound region. The young welder was excited about the possibility of selling Mr. Bones. He has other family members besides his mother who have shown in galleries before so he has had exposure to the world of selling art in galleries. Culver unfortunately could not be reached for comments, due to a busy schedule building lego creations with a couple buddies.

Melana mused, “Culver cracks himself up with mishaps like singeing his hair bangs. But he is not my emergency room child. He stands back, observing things carefully, then jumps in and thankfully comes out fairly unscathed.”

See more about the Recycled Arts Show on The RE Store’s page, including reviews, events and years worth of recycled art photo galleries. This year’s galleries included Seattle’s Blowing Sands Glass Studio, Allied Arts of Whatcom County, Whatcom Museum and The RE Store in Bellingham. The Blowing Sands exhibit is up until May 9th. If you subscribe to our email newsletter we keep you in the loop about upcoming workshops, recycled arts happenings, calls for art or designs, DIY videos and more.

Posted in: Recycled art and trash fashion, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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The RE Store enters – and wins – a pumpkin carving contest!

The RE Store’s entry – The Sea of Shred

Carve for a Cause is a pumpkin carving contest event and fundraiser put on by Architects Without Borders –  Seattle (AWB-S), a nonprofit whose mission is to provide ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate design assistance to communities in need.  This annual affair held at Design Within Reach in downtown Seattle calls upon design, contractor and other related firms to put their best and most creative carvers together to compete for the titles of best Traditional/Scary, Artistic/Freestyle, Judge’s Choice, and People’s Choice.  Seattle store staff, Mike Noon and Aaron Wendel, took the challenge to create an entry from The RE Store, creating The Sea of Shred.  The Judges were a discerning group of serious Halloween lovers and graphic designers from The Seattle Times and The Seattle Opera.  Some amazing designs were created, and the competition was stiff – but The RE Store won the honor of #1 Traditional/Scary!  We also were one vote away from the People’s Choice award, but lost out to Cyclops on that one.  Thanks to AWB-S for a great event – and to Mike and Aaron for their creative carving skills!

Our glass pumpkin award and a few entries, including Cyclops (top, right).

 

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store

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