Monday, 29 August 2011

Chair today - gone tomorrow

I was wandering around the grounds of Durham Cathedral with my sister and her partner today when I came across this skip full of office chairs. There must have been at least 30 of them. They looked in remarkably good condition but had just been thrown on top on some of some builders rubble and were already stained by the rain.

I don't know which of us was the most angry. My sister also pointed out that as well as local recycling initiatives that would have found a home for the chairs, there were three local prisons in the area with workshops dedicated to repairing and renovating old items.

You can't help but wonder what the builders and craftsmen who created the cathedral, its beautiful carved stone, intricate carpentry and  wonderful paintings, would have made of this waste? Can you imagine them chucking away the pews for want of  nail or a lick of paint?


Saturday, 27 August 2011

MIAMI at Kew Gardens

Hilary and the Two Clares escaped from MIAMI Towers on Friday to spend a great day at Kew Gardens, despite the grey skies and the endless rain. We were invited there by the lovely people at START UK to demonstrate how you can make a contribution to sustainability by upcycling instead of buying new stuff all the time. (see more about START UK and the Start@Kew Festival in the post below)

Clare O shared some scary statistics on the amount of perfectly good furniture that ends up in landfill, then Hilary showed how she turned some very shabby old dining chairs into swanky new ones. You can find out how she did it on the MIAMI website.

Here she is with the before and lined up below are the afters - three very different treatments, including a decoupage chair made from old comic books. Each one is explained in more detail on the MIAMI website.

There were some fantastic people at the event, which was a real gathering of movers and shakers in sustainability - and we'll be sharing with you in the future some of the great things they're doing. People like Clay Swift aka The Green Marine, Edible Bustop, and the schoolboys from Savio Salesian College Bootle who make bat or bird boxes - called the BoBBox, as well as the people from Morsbags, Project Dirt,  Carbon Leapfrog, Gustavo Montes De Oca from the Golden Company, my old friend Amy Cooper from the Secret Seed Society  and many more. Lots of them have agreed to write guest posts for us so look out for more on here and our website about the wonderful things they're all doing.

We hope we passed on some inspiration - and we certainly came away with much more! Thanks to Michael, Catherine, Laurena and everyone at Start Uk for a great festival.

Clare F

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Join us at Kew Gardens on Friday

Make it and Mend it will be at Kew Gardens on Friday, demonstrating how to revive sad, ugly, unloved dining chairs through upcycling. Much better than consigning them to landfill.

We're going to do a Blue Peter style demo - with before, during and 3 alternative afters. we'll be posting details of how to do a similar makeover on the main MIAMI website shortly. We think you'll agree the transformations are all pretty impressive.

Our presence at Kew is part of the START@Kew Festival which takes place this weekend - 25th -29th August. There's loads of activities, exhibits and workshops all based around sustainable living. START UK is one of the Prince of Wales' charities and is a national initiative to promote and celebrate sustainable living.

A great day out for the Bank Holiday - entry to the START@Kew Festival is part of your general ticket to the Gardens - and remember kids go free.

Hope to see you if you come along on the Friday.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

We've got a shop!

We're over the moon at MIAMI Towers as we've just started a collaboration with RU Craft to have a wonderful new craft shop on our website. The shop is packed with all sorts of wonderful stuff - beautiful fabrics from Tilda, Kaffe Fassett, Liberty and Amy Butler, a huge collection of knitting yarns from Rowan and books, tools, materials and accessories for sewing, knitting, cake decorating, jewellery making and much more.

I had the chance to call in on RU Craft when I was on holiday in Devon last week and was able to see all the gorgeous stock we're getting in the Shop. They have it all arranged showroom style and I can't wait to start making things with some of it. I picked up some Tanya Whelan fabric and will be making a set of cushions with it - I'll share the results and the directions with you on our main Make it and Mend it website shortly.

I've also reviewed one of the books from the shop - The Busy Girl's Guide to Sewing - and we have it on offer in the shop at the moment reduced from £14.99 to £11.24.

Go and have a look around - and get some inspiration and materials for your next project.

Read my review of The Busy Girl's Guide to Sewing

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

MIAMI in Somerset

I stopped off in Somerset, en route to Devon for a week in the rain to see my friend Joan Taylor. It's always inspiring catching up with Joan, seeing what projects she has on the go and admiring her horticultural and sewing skills.

When I last visited her, this chair was an upholstery work in progress. Joan is a real perfectionist and she spent hours fiddling about with different fabrics and re-doing her work if it wasn't up to her discerning eye. The final result is a really great patchwork-style chair. This is a great way to use up those odd pieces of fabric and creates a completely unique bespoke piece.

Joan has been working on a small quilt. She meets with a group of friends to do sewing projects together and they decided to try convergence quilting in their session last week. This machine quilting technique involves sewing two or more strips of fabric together, then these are cut and pieced again. She's going to send me some instructions, so when she does I'll share them with you on the main website.

I also enjoyed looking around Joan's garden. She's self sufficient in vegetables from her large veggie plot, which provides her with plenty of fruit and veg to freeze, eat fresh or preserve in her delicious jams and chutneys.

and she also has a lovely cottage garden, full of flowers, shrubs and herbs. She wasn't happy that I took this photo as the lawn has been suffering from the lack of rain recently. Let's hope it's greening up again nicely now - it certainly poured while I was in Devon.

I look forward to having a go at convergence quilting myself soon.

Have you visited our main website?

Clare F