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Friday, June 19, 2009

Bills Fan!

Ok, if you're from Buffalo it's a requirement: you're a Bills fan and you like to talk about the Bills. Unfortunately for you, this post has very little to do with the Bills, however, and EVERYTHING to do with a fan. My little trick to draw you in...

The fan I am talking about came from one of the walls at the ReSource (298 Northampton). I was walking through the other day, searching for inspiration, when I saw it; the fan was prominently displayed in the front of the store, calling to me. I asked Peter, the assistant store manager, what the plan was for the fan...was it for sale? was it for show?

Peter told me they had scrapped a similar one earlier in the day, thus this one was equally up for grabs. Who would want/need an old industrial fan? ME. I wanted it. How could something so cool be scrapped?? Using sheer strength and determination, I lugged the giant fan back to my newly laid patio and took a few moments to brainst

I came up with the idea of converting the fan into a table. Slapping four legs on it, placing some glass on top and calling it a day. Well, not so easy as that, but that's the general idea. It turned out SO cool! Now I am evermore inspired to create furniture, sculptures, bins, etc. out of recycled materials. I'm convinced it's the way of the future. So if you're driving around and find a cool object, DON'T throw it out! Think of how it could be used as a neat centerpiece in your living room, or a new addition to your house's artwork. OR...give it to me...I'll find a use for it!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Garden Creations, Reusing Concrete

Back in November, my heart sank a little when I discovered that the house I had just bought in the October foreclosure auction had a gigantic slab of concrete hidden underneath a thin layer of soil. Think of the soil as icing on the thick concrete cake and you get the idea. Yuck, right? I felt as though all my plans for an amazing garden had just wilted and withered away.

Well, come April I had the concrete removed thanks to Matt and the trusty skidsteer that ripped it up...making way for my ambitious garden plans! Only problem was, I had a sky high pile of concrete in my backyard that I had no intention of using. My initial thought was to get rid of it ASAP. It was an eyesore, a constant reminder of the garage that had once stood but had since rotted away, but the environmental policy major in me challenged that initial thought. Why couldn't I find a way to reuse it? Couldn't it function somehow in my plans?

After thinking of all the things I wanted to include in my garden and the materials needed, I thought of using the concrete pieces to build an herb spiral. If you're not familiar with an herb spiral, don't be ashamed; most people have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention it. Basically what it aims to do is to conserve space in a garden and also provide the perfect climate for each herb that is planted. With the way water reaches each portion of the spiral formation, dry loving herbs like rosemary go on top and herbs loving a more moist environment go on the bottom. It is a very effective and beautiful addition to any garden.

So I built the herb spiral out of concrete pieces, but I still had too much left over, so I lined paths and garden beds with it! In addition, it is going into the foundation for the new earth oven being built. By taking my time and brainstorming ways to reuse it, I have successfully avoided the need to rent a dumpster to cart away the concrete. All it takes is a little patience, creativity, and willingness to experiment and look at the result! Not only did I reuse materials, I created something beautiful. I hope this inspires folks to build an herb spiral in their garden...I can tell you it is well worth it. Use whatever materials you have lying around that you can stack on top of each other and then fill it with a mixture of topsoil and compost. Also, you don't necessarily have to fill it with herbs; it could just as easily be a flower or veggie spiral!

Composting with seatbelts

Compost bins are essential to any garden. I had long ago decided I was putting in a three bin compost system, but I had been hesitating for a while, wondering what I should make it out of. Wood was fine, but boring. Brick? Too time consuming. I wandered over to Buffalo ReUse and asked Peter, the assistant store manager, what ReUse had a lot of that they needed to use up. Peter jokingly suggested the enormous box of seatbelts that someone had donated. It was all in jest, but then I thought, "why not??"

After a few trial and error sessions, I figured out how I could use the seatbelts in my compost bin design. The majority of my compost bin is woven seatbelts...The outer sides, the back (seatbelts woven into a chainlink fence), and the front doors are all made out of seatbelts. The middle dividers are made out of tree trunks that we cut out of my backyard and sunk into the ground. Talk about material reuse! The best part was that it took less than a day to create, is functional, and looks super cool! If you'd like to learn how I made my compost bin, come and talk to me about it at the next workshop (Glass Block Windows, Tuesday June 9th at 6pm).

A lot of progress has been made in and around the house, so be sure to come and check it out! The garden is growing rapidly (I need to harvest the lettuce) and the inside rooms are being tranformed! All with the help of a group of awesome City Honors kids and some wonderful volunteers. An especially big thank you to Vince and to the kids who worked on the compost bin; it looks amazing.

Hope to see you all at a future workshop...