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When I was a little girl I had a blue blankie. It went everywhere with me. Eventually it disintegrated and had to be thrown out. It was a sad day in my life.
A few months ago my dear friend Teresa (aka The Green Bag Lady) sent me a VERY special gift that she and her "Bagettes" made for me. When Teresa was visiting a while back we came across some dresses and skirts from my childhood that I still had! I gave them to Teresa for her youngest daughter to wear. When she out grew them Teresa couldn't bring herself to donate my 30+ year old clothes to Goodwill so she and the Bagettes transformed them into a quilt for me. I had NO idea they were doing this. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the package and found this thoughtful, one-of-a-kind, re-recycled gift! I was speechless, touched, thrilled! Teresa even incorporated a hood for me so I could wear it while I worked. When we renewed our vows on Bowling Ball Beach, I wore it. When we took a road trip to LA in June, I took it and wore it. I basically am 5 years old with a blankie again. . . and lovin' it! THANK YOU TERESA and THE BAGETTES! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
A couple of weeks ago, we were in southern California. We visited the City of Los Angeles Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant & Japanese Tea Gardens. I kid you not, you look one direction and see this:
You look the other direction and see this:
From their web site: "The Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant (DCTWRP), was designed to produce reclaimed water that will meet the requirements of the California Department of Health Services and the County Health Department for specific uses with the priority to protect public health. The main function of the plant, however, is to relieve the overburdened portions of the wastewater collection system between the San Fernando Valley and the City's main wastewater treatment facility, the Hyperion Treatment Plant, located in Playa Del Rey.
The balance of positive and negative forces, Yin & Yang, are ever present here. Obvious in the skillful blending of traditional Japanese landscaping with modern Occidental architecture, less so in the way the Japanese concept of "WA" or harmony is used to unite the desires of the human spirit with our more mundane requirements—the exquisite beauty of a Japanese garden with the need for an abundant supply of fresh water."
Pretty cool, don't you think?
One of my goals for the year is to do one quick sketch every day. Instead of buying a sketch book, I decide to make one out of things I had around the house. First thing I did was find some paper that was blank on one side and a thin cardboard box. We have plenty of both. I started by cutting the side of the box off.
The side panel seemed like a good width so I just chopped along the seams.
Next I cut the paper so that it would be slightly thinner than the width of the cardboard strip. In my case that ended up being 3.66" wide.
By cutting those strips in half I was able to use the entire piece of paper with no waste. I ended up with a stack of paper all the same size. In my case the pages are 4.25" x 3.66" but you could make your pages any size you like. By cutting them this way I was able to get 6 pages per 8.5" x 11" piece of recycled paper.
Next, I stapled my stack of paper to the center of the cardboard strip. I used the existing fold line since I knew I wanted to create a cover that would fold over the paper. I debated which side of the paper to staple but ended up going with parallel to the cut edge of the cardboard. I stapled 2 corners of the paper stack. I have a pretty strong stapler so I was able to go through all the sheets + the cover.
Next, I knew I wanted to have a way to close the book so I decided to sew on a rubber band. Honestly, the hardest part of the project was picking what colored rubber band to use. As you can see I ended up opting for red. I simply used a needle and thread to sew the rubber band to the cardboard.
Here it is finished and closed. I am happy to report that 4 months into the year and I am still doing a sketch most days. The size is small enough to fit in my back pocket and the cardboard cover keeps the pages from getting mangled as I tote it around. I love the way the organic label and text ended up on the cover. It was kismet.
You can make them as fancy or utilitarian as you like. Here are a few more photos of other more fancy recycled sketchbooks that my friend Nancy and I made. In these examples (below) instead of cutting and stapling we folded the paper and Nancy used a heavy needle and thread to hold the pages in. The possibilities are endless!
Check out my "new" couch. Sherry in Nashville did an excellent job making me new covers for our couch. We acquired the couch when it failed to sell at the Gualala Arts Center rummage sale a year or two ago. My husband called and said, "Can I buy a couch?" Sight unseen I became the proud owner of this corner couch. Now that it has a new face lift I am in LOVE with it. Every time I look at it I like it more and more. Note the flower painting in the corner done my oh so talented 14 year old niece, Emma. She is amazing! You might also recognize some other Harmony Art fabrics in the room.
The print I used for the couch covers is our organic cotton twill named Evelyn & Janette after my two grandmothers. The fun thing is that our other couch (in our living room) is a hand-me-down from my grandmother Janette (photo below). It has never been recovered. It's in fairly good shape for being at least 40 years old! I am happy to have earned the nickname Hand-me-down Harm. I like items with history much better than mass produced.
I have an odd shower. It is the width of a tub shower but extra tall since you step down into it. Finding a shower liner has always been a bit of a challenge. I refuse, I mean REFUSE to buy a vinyl shower curtain. (True confessions: in my previous life I use to design them. When the samples would arrive at the office you could smell them for days. I knew then it was not healthy. At that point in my life, I didn't realize how unhealthy.)
I am not a particularly crafty person but when our shower needed a new liner I decided there had to be a non-vinyl solution. . . I considered fabric but was concerned about mold, didn't want any creepy finished fabric, and didn't want polyester. I decided to create my own Tyvek® shower curtain. Tyvek® is that material that the USPS priority mail bags are made out of. They are cradle to cradle silver certified. They are made partly from recycled plastic milk jugs and water bottles in a closed loop system.
I sewed two pieces together to make one wide and long enough piece. I folded one side over and sewed a section at the top. I thought I would need to add grommets but discovered a simple hole punch did the trick. There are no seams on any of the other 3 sides so water runs right off and nothing gets trapped. No fraying. About 6 weeks into the experiment and it is working really well. I think I will even be able to throw it in the washing machine if it needs freshening.
The one small draw back is that it is a bit loud! No, it isn't as LOUD as the SunChip compostable bags and frankly I will take a bit of noise getting in and out of the shower over breathing toxic, cancer causing fumes.
Unlike here in the USA where Frito-Lay caved to complaints of their compostable bag being too loud, the Canada division is standing their ground. Three CHEERS to our SunChip neighbors to the north. The company's campaign slogan is: "Our bag is loud, our bag is different, our bag is good for the environment, and our bag will remain on store shelves."
I spent last weekend in Nashville with the Green Bag Lady (aks Teresa). Teresa knows I don't sew so instead of helping sew the Green Bag Lady bags, she put me to work matching handles with bags. It was SOOOO much fun! I loved it. Here's an action shot of me being the "handler".
While going through the bags I came across this bag (below) made out of Bagette Dad's old pants and fell in love with it! The pockets are still in tact - perfect for cell phone, nano, etc. The loops allow me to accessorize my bag with a belt to match my outfit. After begging and pleading (not really) Teresa let me keep the "pants bag". Here's a picture of me with the original owner of the pants. Goofy? Yes! Fun? Absolutely!
On Saturday afternoon we had a Bagette brunch and I got to meet some of the women who bring the Green Bag Lady project to life. They are as lovely and kind and generous and talented as you would imagine. What a great weekend! Thank you Bagettes for making me feel so welcome. xoxo harmony
Styrofoam -- it is a wonderfully light packing material. It protects fragile products in shipping. It is rarely recycled and is hard to contain. (I know you have had a piece break and the static cling has made it hard to get all the tiny piece.) I like the cornstarch "peanuts" that dissolve with water. That's a big improvement. However, check out this latest development: Mushroom-Based Packaging. They are growing mushroom fibers on waste like cotton seed, wood fiber and buckwheat hulls into the forms needed for shipping fragile items. Sounds like a good idea to me. They say it uses 98% less energy than Styrofoam and, in my opinion, the real fabulous thing is that once you are "done" with it you can add it to your garden or compost pile. No more bags and bags of huge Styrofoam trash to try to figure out what to do with. I like it!
Next time I buy something that comes with Styrofoam packaging I am going to make it a point to tell the company about this alternative.
Years ago I spoke at the University of California, Davis to Ann Savageau's design classes. It was from that visit that I met my soon-to-be intern extraordinaire Carol Shu. Ann and I have stayed in touch and when she told me about her B.A.G. project last year, you know I was excited about it and wanted to support its goal to be truly global. I put Ann in touch with the founder of Conserve India, Anita.
This week I received this email from Ann:
As you know, I just returned from a fabulous two week stay in Delhi, and I credit you for introducing me to Anita and catalyzing this wonderful exchange!
The living conditions of the rag pickers are appalling: many of them belong to the Dalit, or Untouchable, caste. Anita says they are often sexually assaulted and beaten up. They have no schools or health care, and Conserve India provides both of those for about 300 employees. We visited the school and brought gifts for the children, such as soccer balls, jump ropes, toothbrushes, pencils, crayons, etc.
Our newly graduated fashion design majors, Christina Johnson and Jenna Chen will work as interns for C.I. for the next six months. It is a very exciting and a unique opportunity for them, because they will learn many aspects of the business (designing, marketing, merchandising, and pricing, to name a few). No American company of the same size would offer new graduates as much opportunity or responsibility.
I have attached a photo of us in our Indian garb, in an old bazaar in Delhi. Thank you so much for introducing me to Anita! By the way, Carol Shu will begin grad school with us in the fall, and we are so happy to have her back.
What fun to see connections blossom and grow! It is really wonderful to feel like I am a small part of a group of thoughtful committed citizens who are indeed changing the world.
Ok, my husband is from detroit - affectionately referred to around our house as "D-Town". Therefore it follows that he is a hockey fan (Wing Nut). Yes, I have watched my fair share of Red Wings games over the last 18 years! This year wasn't their best . . . but regardless there was some GREAT news from the National Hockey League last week.
Stanley Cup Finals Ices Plastic Bags "The NHL is expecting to replace some 30,000 plastic bags normally used during the Stanley Cup Finals with reusable bags. The reusable bags will be a commemorative bag featuring the 2010 Stanley Cup Final logo."
After being inspired by Edward Norton and The Green Bag Lady, my new goal is to turn my home town of Gualala into a plastic bag free zone. This post by Treehugger is the perfect example of how to turn the serious, ugly problem of plastic bags into a huge win for not only the planet but the effort to clean up our watersheds as well. The 5 cent plastic bag tax has reduced the average number of bags handed out per month in Washington DC from 22.5 million to 3 million! It has also generated $150,000 in revenue to help clean up the Anacostia River.
My first step is to meet with our local grocery store owners and see if I can get them "on board". I already have The Green Bag Lady agreeing to do events in Gualala in July when she is visiting, and a radio interview with her set up with our local radio station. Stay tuned and wish me luck! Any suggestions and encouragement are welcome.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.