Author Kate Shoup is the queen of what she calls "upcycling," recycling an item into a higher use. (A soda can becomes a belt. A wine cork becomes a bracelet.) With her new book, "Rubbish! Reuse your Refuse," (Wiley, About $20) she’s offered treasure after treasure that can easily be created from what you’ve got lying around. Here, three of our favorite quick Shoup creations for the home:
Bent Record Bowl
You’ve seen them in downtown boutiques for upwards of $30 apiece, these cool nods to the bygone era of vinyl. Either smooth sided or fluted the bowls are made of a real record and can hold anything: party apps, necklaces, keys and cell phones as you come through the door. In "Rubbish!" Shoup teaches users how to make their very own out of any old record they’ve got hanging around. The steps are easy, simply wipe down your vinyl, lay it on top of an oven-safe bowl and pop it in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Ovens make plastic hot, so use oven mitts. (And if you’re not the type to bake plastic at home but still want to get your hands on one, visit Washington, DC’s superb home shop Vastu online.)
This simply never would have occurred to us, but it’s a genius idea for preserving and displaying photo negatives. Before getting started you may want to be sure these are either negatives you’ve scanned digitally already or are sure you won’t want to turn into photos. The project, conceived by designer Tiffany Moreland, involves essentially slipcovering a metal lampshade cover in a series of sewn-together negatives.
Book Jacket Light-Switch Cover
The most out-there of our three favorite projects, Shoup’s idea for livening up a boring switch plate is nothing if not entertaining. Simply tear off the front cover of an old paperback, cut it to match Shoup’s diagram, then attach to the front of the switch plate with hot glue. Shoup recommends "pulpy sci-fis" and "Fabio-friendly romances" as the perfect candidates to wrap a plate, but we think this could also work perfectly in a kid’s room when an extra copy of a great children’s paperback ends up at your house.
In addition to more great home ideas, "Rubbish" is packed with projects for "refashionistas," like jewelry and bags, as well as gift ideas aplenty.