Thursday, December 13, 2007

Making Magnets with Eco Glue

While waiting for baby to arrive (due in less than 2 weeks now!), I've been keeping pretty busy making lots and lots of junk mail magnets over the past week (also wallets & beads) to stock up for upcoming orders, as you can see here...

I also just found this Eco Glue online that I've been trying out...seems to be really strong, and nice & clear, which is a must for magnet making! Check it out if you're looking for an eco friendly and strong glue!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Book page wreath

Sometimes I even get ideas for recycling projects from the actual mail I am recycling! Pottery Barn catalogs are one thing I like to use for making my wallets as they have a lot of nice full-photo pages without a lot of text.

Anyway, I think this came from one of those catalogs, and I caught myself just before folding it into a strip for a wallet. (which is why it is cropped funny) Check out the wreath-like decoration here that appears to be made out of old book pages. Pretty cool idea...looks like you could make one pretty simply by poking a wire through a bunch of loosely folded book pages, bent into a circle. I just might have to try making a junk mail wreath one of these days...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Productive Hibernation

Well, yesterday we finally got our first decent snowstorm which is pretty late in the year for Minnesota. We got maybe 6" or so...nothing huge but enough to stick now for a while! Today I've been up in my studio most of the day working away on Junk Mail Gems products...weaving wallets, rolling paper beads, etc...staying warm and dry. Here are a few photos out my studio window for those of you living in warmer climates who find snow to be a novelty...

More developments in the Junk Mail Gems world...while my list of fantastic retailers around the country has continued to grow, this week I am happy to welcome the Eco Gender Corporation as our first exclusive distributor to the territory of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean! Hopefully Junk Mail Gems will be a profitable addition for them in the coming year!

I'm also excited to have recently mailed in my application to hopefully be chosen to be a part of next year's St. Paul Craftstravaganza! You may remember that I posted on this event last summer. It was jam packed with really cool stuff and TONS of people. So, keep your fingers crossed that I make it in...I think it would be a great chance to meet some more like minds in the Twin Cities!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Thrift Store Re-Make

Well, I have one last thrift store furniture re-make project I've just finished for my bug themed nursery in my last few weeks before baby arrives! I've been visiting thrift stores watching for a small end table or side table to put next to the rocking chair. I found this perfect wicker drawer unit for just $6.99 at Saver's a couple days ago. Of course, the brown & green paint with pictures of mushrooms & acorns don't quite fit with the nursery decor...but that's the fun part!

I spent last night painting the whole thing white, which is pretty time consuming when you're talking about wicker. Today I added the colored trim areas and then painted a bug on each drawer, to match the bug illustrations in the rug I have in the room.

As you can see below, with just a few bucks, some paint and a little tlc, you can turn a homeless, out-of-date piece of furniture into a custom piece for your home!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Recycle your old Christmas & Greeting Cards!

With Christmas less than 6 weeks away, there's no doubt you will soon be receiving holiday cards and advertising in your mailbox. This got me thinking I should post some ways to recycle your holiday cards.

The first thing that came to mind for me was these cool ornaments. My mom made some of these when I was little, and you may have seen them around the web as well. Since I had already re-purposed my cards from last year, I made this ornament today out of some of the holiday catalogs I've received in the mail recently. Greeting card fronts work best since they are thicker stock, but catalog covers work as well. Check out the Junk Mail Gems DIY page for complete instructions to make your own ornament!

Looking for something less time-consuming? You can also use your cards as gift tags. Simply cut around the image you like with scissors, and use a hole punch in one corner. I like to use craft scissors with a decorative edge...pinking shears also work for a zig-zag. Use the hole to tie ribbon through, and on the back you can write who the gift is for and from!

Another thing I like to do with attractive gift cards is to cut out the images and use them as embellishments in my Christmas photo scrapbook. They cost 100% less than buying expensive scrapbook stickers, and I add to the memory preservation by noting in small writing next to it who sent that particular card. You can even dress the images up further by adding a little glitter, or adding dimension by gluing cardboard squares underneath it to lift it off the page.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Junk Mail Gems on Fox News

Last night Junk Mail Gems was featured as part of a Fox 9 news story about stopping junk mail! Watch the video on their website!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cardboard Sculpture

My brother sent me this link to some really awesome cardboard sculpture by Chris Gilmour. Pretty cool stuff. Sure, cardboard boxes can be recycled back into more cardboard boxes, but then why not give a box a loftier second life as a work of art?!

Chris creates replicas of everyday objects out of nothing more than cardboard and glue. Seeing these brought back many memories of my college days in Industrial Design. One assignment I had my freshman year was to create a cardboard chair that could support my weight, only we couldn't use any glue. I also still use cardboard as an inexpensive way to create full size models of my product designs to test. Of course, being rough models, these ae not meant to be as beautiful and detailed as Gilmour's work, but it does make me want to go back and explore cardboard more as an end-product medium!

The link is to Reuben and Yael Miller's blog, which is worth exploring if you have a chance! I think I'll add this one to my list of regular places to visit...nice stuff!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Now Available: "Cool Green Stuff!"

Yipeee! My pre-ordered copy of Cool Green Stuff from Amazon arrived today! This is a really cool little book. It's the perfect little size and with large, full-color photos on every page, it's interesting enough to live on your coffee table and frequently be picked up. If you'd like to get one, you'd better order asap or find it in a bookstore, as according to Amazon's site today, they only have 4 left in stock.

Anyway, be sure to check out the front section on fashion, which is where you will find a page featuring Junk Mail Gems' hand-rolled paper beads! Click here to check out our recently expanded selection of loose beads, as well as ready-to-wear necklaces, earrings and bracelets!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Junk Mail Gems Featured in New Green Book

I keep forgetting to post about this but finally getting around to it! Junk Mail Gems is going to be one of the many cool green products featured in this new book, Cool Green Stuff, available in the US at the end of the month! I've already pre-ordered mine on Amazon....check it out here!

The book will be published in Australia and New Zealand under the name "Cool Hunting:Green" as well!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"PRE-Cycle" Your Computer Printouts!

Ever print an email or something off a website, and get that wasted last page that has like 2 words on it? One thing I do to try to avoid this is to click the "from __ to __" option in my printer dialog box instead of the default "print all pages," and start with 1 to 1 or whatever I think it will take to get what I actually need printed. This helps avoid getting that last page with nothing but "page 2 of 2" and the web url on it. But, sometimes it still does happen.

What I've been doing lately is cutting up my printer mistakes, old mapquest routes, etc and use the backs for notes, phone messages, & shopping lists. The backs of the paper is perfectly good for these little notes, and it enables you to get another use out of this paper before you drop it in the trash, or hopefully, your recycle bin!

Now you can store your own recycled note paper with this cool storage box, just added to the Junk Mail Gems collection! This box is designed to hold scratch paper the size of a letter sized sheet (8.5" x 11") cut into fourths. The box is hand woven entirely out of 7 recycled junk mail catalog pages and is available now on for $15.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Recycled Magazine Stuff

Check out this cool mirror from Urban Outfitters, trimmed with recycled magazines! ($52) Be sure to check out the close-up view (click "more pictures") on their site to see the detail in the individual rolls...pretty time consuming! (although I'm not sure if they are hand made?)

They also have a picture frame for $16.00 made in the same way:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ugly Dresser : AFTER

And you all thought I couldn't do it. Here it is, the completely re-finished ugly garage dresser turned nursery dresser! I spent a day sanding and painting the wood, pounding a few loose nails back into place, and replacing all the drawer bottoms and back before painting it. It took some time to get it cleaned up, pry off the warped and water damaged fiberboard back and drawer bottoms, and remove 10 knobs, but soon after it really began to change dramatically with paint. I really didn't expect it to get done in only one day so it was a nice surprise.

The dresser was free, I paid about $6 for some board that I had cut up at Home Depot to fit in the drawer bottoms and back, and I spent about $3 to replace the rusty metal feet on the bottom with new plastic feet. The paint colors I already had from painting the walls. Not a bad deal for a piece of "garbage" that was on it's way to the curb!

I did splurge on the 10 drawer pulls, purchased from Cool Knobs and Pulls online, at $4.95 a piece. But, this I think really makes it, for the bug themed room I've got going. Plus, I still paid way less than I would buying something new that would not work nearly as perfect in the room.

So, there you have it...even a water damaged, warped, oil stained dresser can be transformed and used again. I haven't surprised my doubting relatives with it yet...I'm banking on the fact that they probably don't read my blog. Next time my parents are over, I'll see if they recognize it.

Alright, enough of my crazy personal projects...I'll try to find something more interesting for my next post! ;-)

Ugly Dresser: BEFORE

Okay, I have one more ugly furniture makeover in progress to share. This is the dresser I mentioned in the "Ugly Lamp: before" posting from last month...I tried to sell it in my garage sale for my dad for $5 and it would not sell. It's no wonder I's been in his garage or shed as long as I can remember and is very beat up. The paint is chipped, the drawers are filthy, the back panel is water damaged, and the drawer bottoms are warped and stained.

When I first saw this I said, "I could almost re-paint that for the nursery!" My parents groaned, "no way, not once you open a drawer..." and my husband's reaction was "we aren't putting that thing in the nursery, it's garbage!" Well, I took that as a challenge I simply could not resist.

I spent the afternoon today, my first day off from face painting in 11 days, transforming this dresser. It's literally done now, except that I am waiting for the arrival of some bug themed drawer pulls I ordered online today. I will post a photo of the new and improved dresser once I get the drawer pulls to top it off, so stay tuned!

Recycled Bag Placemats

Check out these cool mats made from recycled bags, available through Ten Thousand Villages. Visit their site for more cool stuff and more info on the group of artisans who hand crochete these mats! They also have some really neat mats and coasters made from recycled newspapers.

Ugly Lamp : AFTER

...And, here it is folks...the after shot of the ugly lamp in a previous posting! Well, you may still consider it ugly, at least to put in your living room. But, I've converted this lamp especially for our bug themed nursery.

The shade I simply wrapped with bug fabric. Inside I filled it with fake grass and bugs from my local craft store, and painted the base white to go with the rest of the furniture. Not too bad for a lamp I was about to toss out.

So, here ends my little lamp recycling project! I have one more dramatic transformation project I'm doing with a dresser, which I'll show in another posting...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Recycled container lights

Check out these cool lights, posted by "mattsparkes' on Superuse.
Very cool idea!!

Ugly Lamp : BEFORE

Well, It's been a little while again since I've blogged, as summer happens to be the busiest time of year for my other business, face painting! I also am now expecting and due on Christmas day! So, I've been "recycling" a messy, un-used room in our house into a nursery. So, enough with the excuses...

At this very moment I am also manning my own garage sale, which got me thinking about this great way to re-use. Never be too proud to go to garage sales! You never know what treasures you'll find. This ugly lamp above, which I got a long time ago at another garage sale and had filled with marbles, was about to go into my own sale. But, then I came up with an idea to use it for my new bug-themed nursery. I have already covered the shade with cute bug fabric, and next I plan to paint the base, and fill the inside with fake grass and bugs like a little terrarium. So, stay tuned for the "after" shot of my ugly lamp!

Garage sales are a great way to personalize, recycle and re-use things that might otherwise end up in the trash. I got a fantastic crib the other day for $30 which is unreal. And, now I'm sitting here eyeing my dad's beat up dresser, thinking I could keep it and paint that for the nursery as well. It is an obsession that never really ends... But that's okay. If you're not the creative type, don't toss out your useable stuff, as someone out there can fix it up! Donate it to a thrift store and help the rest of us feed our obsession!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Junk Mail Gems on Etsy

Hey there,
Many of you have told me I should set up a shop on Etsy, so I finally decided to give it a whirl. I just finished setting up an Etsy shop for Junk Mail Gems...check it out! I don't have everything up there, but it's a start. I'll see if it is worth keeping up. You can still see my full line of products at Junk Mail! I literally JUST put it up and have 18 views on my wallets. Not sure how that works out, but I'll take it! :-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Beautiful Magazine Mobiles

Gotta share this cool product that my design savvy sister recently emailed my way...Check out these beautiful mobiles by Frazier & Wing, made out of recycled magazine pages!

So gorgeous!! This morning I took a break from some of my design work (as if I need a break from something I love), to make some more paper beads. Keep an eye out at Junk Mail Gems as I'll be updating my bead section with some new products and new improvements to what's already there! Or, sign up for my newsletter on the first page to keep really up-to-date. (I'll give you a juicy tip...I'm planning to include a coupon in my next issue!!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Elevating Garbage to Art

Sometimes trash is pretty enough as it is, without turning it into something else! Check out what New York City artist Justin Gignac is doing with the trash he finds on the streets of NYC. You can purchase an elegant box of signed, dated, colorful NYC trash for only $50. And don't worry, every box is sealed, and will not leak or smell!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Pen Chandelier

Well, I just got my latest issue of ReadyMade and am tempted to give the MacGyver challenge another whirl. The new challenge is to find a way to make something out of old dead pens.

I looked around the web and found a few cool ideas to get the juices (ink) flowing...

Check out this cool pen chandelier! I have a feeling this was not made with dried up, dead pens, but I could see someone making a cool lamp shade if they've saved up enough old pens!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Uses for Satellite Dishes

Hello everyone,

Well, I haven't blogged in a while as I was out in Arizona spending some time with my in-laws! But, while I was out there I saw something along the road that I was unfortunately unable to snap a photo of in time to capture. I saw one clever homeowner who had taken an old satellite dish, cut it in half, and attached it as an awning over a window. And, it really didn't look half bad! You could probably even decorate it with a canvas cover or even some vines to spruce it up. But, I thought it was a cool idea.

I don't like to post anything without pictures though, so I thought I'd peruse the web for some other things people have done with satellite dishes. I found some pretty creative ideas, like this satellite dish gazebo.

...even a feeder & shelter for llamas!

Here's someone who uses small dish satellite's as a canvas for artwork.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Colored Pencil Jewelry

Ever wondered what to do with your colored pencils once they get too short to hold? I've recently stumbled upon the work of artist and fellow Industrial Designer Amy Pfaffman, who links together short bits of colorful pencils to create some really unique jewelry.

I saw her jewelry in my Uncommon Goods catalog, and after google-ing her name, found that she makes all kinds of beautiful jewelry out of various recycled findings, from glass animal eyes to guitar picks to resistors. You've just got to check it out!

The colored pencils made me smile as I remembered this collage I made when I was in 3rd grade. I was sharpening my colored pencils when it became painfully obvious to me that the shavings looked exactly like miniature tutu's. So, being the creative kid that I was, I felt the need to illustrate this in this collage, which I amazingly still have in my stash of old childhood artwork. Not nearly as useful as Amy's jewelry but it still makes me laugh!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

GreenDimes Junk Mail Tree!

Check out this "Junk Mail Tree," sent to me by Jill from Green Dimes. She built this "tree" by drilling through 6 feet of junk mail and threading it on an umbrella stand. The tree weighs 100 pounds, which is the amount of junk mail the average household receives every year!

Green Dimes is a company that offers a service to reduce your junk mail for you, and plants a tree in your honor every month!

Craftstravaganza 2007

Well, this is posting is totally belated, but I did get out to the 2nd annual St. Paul Craftstravaganza on Saturday for a was super crowded but there was a lot of cool stuff there!! Too bad the fine arts building doesn't have a retractable was a gorgeous day outside! But, everyone knows that it's not worth the stress to plan an event outdoors and rely on good weather... Anyway, I highly recommend going next year if you didn't make it this year. Here are a few snapshots...

In the Fine Arts building...

These little gnomes & mushroom houses were the cutest!

Live music all day long...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Free Junk Mail Gems e-newsletter!

Want to be among the first to know when Junk Mail Gems adds new products or features to their website? Well, you're in luck because we now have a free e-newsletter! Simply visit Junk Mail Gems home page, scroll down to the bottom, and enter your name and email address to subscribe!

"Pop" Art Mirror

Check out this "sweet" mirror by Mitch & Susie Levin, available a the Artful Home! Very cool idea. I've been saving up the plastic labels on my 2 liter pop bottles for an idea yet to be discovered...although this is made from the cans. I spotted this one via a post on craftster, where one ambitious fan made one herself that looks great too!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone!!

I was honored to have Gloria Campos, the green blogger for American Inventor Spot, feature Junk Mail Gems on her blog this weekend! Check it out! Thanks for the nice article, Gloria!

Today I am also posting in hopes of getting a little "audience participation!" My husband is studying to earn his Masters in Business Administration at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Business. For one of his recent class projects, he needs to get some poll results.

Anyway, he decided to use Junk Mail Gems for his project, and has put together two surveys. We would be most grateful if you would find just a few minutes (less than 5!) in your day to fill out whichever survey suits you! One is meant for people who have previously made purchases from Junk Mail Gems, and the other is for those who have not. Simply click a link and you will be directed to a quick, anonymous online survey!

Thanks so much in advance for helping me to make Junk Mail Gems better, and for helping my hubby with his school project! :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More New Products on Junk Mail Gems!

Check out the new pocket mirrors, just added to Junk Mail Gems! These are similar to the little buttons, in that they are made with those patterns you find inside security envelopes! I hope to add more made from catalogs as well, in the near future. These pocket sized mirrors are 2.25" in diameter and make a perfect companion for your junk mail wallet!

Also just added to the "Junk Drawer" (stuff made from things other than junk mail) are some more pocket mirrors, made out of recycled maps! These are a perfect gift for travelers. Check them out here!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2nd Annual Craftstravaganza!

Okay, so this posting may only be of interest to my fellow Minnesotans, but I wanted to just mention that the 2nd annual St. Paul Craftstravaganza is coming up soon! The Craftstravaganza will be held in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds' fine arts building on Saturday, April 28th from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm. Admission is FREE, which includes 90 offbeat craft vendors' booths to peruse to the beat of live music by local bands throughout the day, and even some hands-on workshops where you can learn and make your own cool stuff!! And did I mention it's FREE?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hamster Powered Paper Shredder

And here I am wasting perfectly good electricity shredding my junk mail for packing material... I need to take a lesson from Mr. Tom Ballhatchet and his clever hamster powered shredder. I grew up with several hamsters so I know that they love running in their wheels and have plenty of energy to share. The only problem is, being that the cuddly little furballs are nocturnal, I'd have to stay up until the wee hours feeding paper through!

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Bagel to Go"

I've been trying to come up with ways I can re-use those CD spindle cases. Check out this great idea, done by Rodrigo Piwonka of New York. ... Brilliant!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Welcome to Junk Mail Gems BLOG!

Hello everyone! Since I never seem to be able to resist adding more to my plate, I figured it was about time that the Junk Mail Gems blog finally come to fruition. I hope to be posting things related to recycling, DIY, and anything else that seems remotely related to what I'm doing here with Junk Mail Gems!

But, since this IS the first Junk Mail Gems blog posting, I thought I'd test out my first post by showing you what's new on my site...mainly any new products I've added over the past few weeks, in case you haven't visited recently...

I'll start with my new favorite...these buttons! For some time now I've been keeping a separate stash of those security envelopes I get in my junk mail pile, and now I've found a cool way to re-use them. Next time you open your mailbox, peek inside those'd be surprised how many unique graphical patterns you'll find! So, now I have buttons that are made from these patterns, as well as some colorful catalog buttons, similar to the magnets.

Also recently added are some bookmarks, which are made out of woven catalog pages. These are actually trimmings that are left after making wallets!

And, last but not least...I recently decided to consolidate the non-junk-mail products into their own separate section I like to call "Junk Drawer Gems." Over the last few weeks I've added some bracelets and earrings to this section, made out of reclaimed speaker wires.

So, that's what's new for sure to check back often though, as I pretty much have a constant stream of products in the works and on their way to the site!
Related Posts with Thumbnails

What's going on in the world of Junk Mail Gems, along with other cool, hand-made "green" products, DIY projects, and more!