Friday, September 25, 2009

The Scavengers' Manifesto

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I read this book over the summer, and it really applies to my life. It's full name is The Scavengers Manifesto: A Guide to Freeing Yourself from the Endless Cycle of Buying More and More New (Though not Necessarily Improved) Stuff, and Discovering how Salvaging, Swapping, Repurposing, Reusing and Recycling can Save the Earth, your Money, and Your Soul by Anneli Rufus and Kristan Lawsom. That's a mouthful, right? The title gets a little weird with the saving your soul part, but I wanted to try it. I've always liked being thrifty since I've been nearly broke my entire life and I thought this book would be amazing. I was right. It's all about the economics behind thriftiness and the varying ways to be frugal with your money.

There are a myriad of types of scavengers: retail scavengers (people who shop yard sales, discount stores, thrift stores and such); Urban Scavengers (dumpster divers and "Finders"); Social Scavengers (Freecyclers, clothing swappers, free-sample forager, no-cost gardeners); and Professional Scavengers (Archeologists, Prospectors, Found Object Artists, Beachcombers, and Treasure Hunters).

I discovered through this book that I am a mixture of all four. I've always shopped at thrift stores and bargain hunted and I'm a member of freecycle, but for the purposes of this blog, the two most important are Finder and Found Object Artist.

I'm a finder. Things seem to cross my path. Here's a quote that describes me perfectly.

" Finders do not seek. Not consciously. Not pointedly. Finders find. They have a gift.(..) Finders are primal because what they find, while usually welcome, is always unsought and unexpected. For the Finder, finding is a way of getting stuff but also an ongoing game."


This happens to me all the time. I'm a big fan of gardening, and I had noticed in one of the windows in the English building a hyacinth plant someone was growing in a pot. I noticed it everyday for a week until it was gone. I saw where that professor had dumped it outside, the foliage dead. A hyacinth is a bulb that returns every year, so I picked it up and wrapped it in newspaper. I looked like a freak carrying around a dirty bulb in newspaper, but the flower looks nice in my garden in spring. This is also an example of no-cost gardening!

I'm a finder, but also a found object artist. I find total crap and because I like to make things, I figure out ways to make something out of it. Like my mailbox that I found and told y'all about in the first post. Not only that, people give me things because word has got out about my weirdness. I'll run into people I haven't seen for six months and they'll have something they've been saving for me to make something out of. It's both weird and nice.

The bottom line of the book (besides the strange religious connotations associated with the title) is that people don't have to spend money to have the things they want. There are ways of having the things you want that don't involve spending money. The problem is we're programmed to think we have to spend money and create waste to have stuff. Here's a quote that is basically the idea of the book: "The best way to save for your future and stay financially healthy is to not spend money. But consumer culture won't tell you that, because consumer culture has stuff to sell you. Right. Now."

I recommend this book to everyone who wants to save money and be awesome at the same time!

On a completely different note (I'm so excited that I have to share!), I've posted pictures of the new house on my Facebook page, so feel free to check them out!

Before pictures:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2201173&id=23213800&l=60ab716952

"After" Pictures: (Bear in mind, that the after pictures are actually "in progress" pictures!)

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2211416&id=23213800&l=e7f79c3d6c

Happy Scavenging!

*edit* In spite of using the link option at the top of my page, for some reason, I cannot make it look link-like. Just copy and paste if you'd like to check them out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crafty Space + Awesome=Steampunk earrings!

As I've stated before, Jared and I just bought a house and because the house is pretty big for the two of us, there is plenty of room for incredible things like this:

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That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I am hereby dubbing as Crafty Space. And it is awesome. Contrary to what is shown on my storage shelves, I am not an alcoholic. Those are bottles I've collected for various craftiness. The table that my toolboxes and such are sitting on is a five dollar investment that my dearest Jared bought so I could craft on it. He's such a handsome enabler! That stack of books next to the storage shelves are only a small portion of my craft/garden books. I have serious issues. So, as you can see, I have basically the perfect set up going now! Now that I have this amazing space to work in, I plan on decorating it up with craftiness, so I'll keep y'all posted on that as progress is made!

Anyway, I hosted a small gathering of crafters (me, my sister, and my friends Melissa and Kim) and told Kim about my plan to make some earrings out of some lock washers that I may or may not have taken out of Jared's garage area...He's aware of the fact that they are now missing. Regardless, Kim was pretty pumped about that idea because she's going to DragonCon next year with her sister and they are going in steampunk costumes.

For those who aren't aware, Steampunk is the idea of the future in the past. Confusing, right? Imagine today's technology in victorian days. That's steampunk. Mechanical parts are a must, which makes these earrings perfect for their costumes!


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Basically, I used regular earring pieces that can be found at a craft store and bits of chain I had in my storage stash. The lock washers were, as previously stated, borrowed from Jared, and just connected to the chain with jump hoops.

They're pretty cool looking I think!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is that a bathtub in her yard?

The answer to that unusual question would be in fact, "Yes." I'm officially that weird neighbor that if the neighborhood had a homeowners association, they would put not so nice letters on her mailbox asking her to clean up her yard or leave town. Luckily, my neighborhood isn't that fancy and most of my neighbors are family.

Anyway, I found a picture of a fountain someone had made out of a cast iron claw foot tub and I knew I wanted to make one. The trouble was (and generally is) that I am mostly poor and I don't like spending money on big items. So I did what most people would do: I immediately began calling around harassing everyone I knew to see if anyone had a bathtub lying around. Turns out that my uncle had been hauling off scrap metal and just so happened to remember a bathtub being in the pile of stuff to go to the scrap yard.

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I immediately roped Jared into helping me drag it out of the woods and into my daddy's truck. (A brief pause here to appreciate how awesome Jared is. He gets roped into a lot of my projects and barely complains. Commence reading my story.) We also found a cast iron sink that weighed more than my lightweight modern tub!

In the picture, the fountain looked very elegant with copper piping and regal looking shower paraphernalia surrounding it. My tub I dragged out of the woods was less inspiring. It was kind of rusty in spots and there was no copper piping to be found, so once I figured out where I wanted it, I went on a search for something to use as piping. My answer came in the form of a broken swing set that I started sawing into with a hacksaw. It was a ridiculously funny sight since I am trying to saw through metal with a hacksaw that is 20 years old. Plus, it's steel, which is not known for it's softness.

Once I managed to cut it (hours later.), I welded it onto the bathtub. It was not a very pretty weld since I was new to welding at the time and it took forever because, it turns out, steel doesn't weld very well. Then I needed to find something like a shower head, so I went to a very reliable (and confidential) source: someone who worked at the dump. I told him what I was looking for and he took me to a garbage can FULL of brand new plumbing fixtures that Home Depot had taken to the dump. It was awesome. I picked out what I wanted and then went home to figure out all the pump parts I would need.

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It's at this point that I must tell you that I really had no idea what I was doing. I took my plumbing fixture with me to Home Depot and told them what I was planning. They were useless. Based on their expression, they must have thought I was the weirdest kid ever. I left there and went to Morgan's Hardware in town and, while they seemed to think I was crazy, they managed to find the proper fittings. I bought a pump because I had no way to make one, but did manage to rig a pretty effective filter using a small Rubbermaid box and blue air conditioning filters and assembled everything.

This is the final result:Photobucket

Look at the fishies!!

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I hope you like it!