Furniture day was all about ingenuity and collaboration; I brought in some old furniture for people to experiment with, lots of other recycled materials, a few points of inspiration and then everyone got on with it. It’s great to see how the different projects developed. As i didn’t really want to sit there watching paint dry I opted for textile and decoupage methods for upcycling, particularly inspired by the work of Lucy Renshaw. For some great bespoke upcycling it’s worth checking out the beautiful paint techniques of Absolute Art.



Today was a quieter day thanks in part to heavy rain, however the people who came in were really enthusiastic and worked really hard on their chosen projects. I was really pleased to see some familiar faces and great to have some new ones too. Quite a few people just dropped in to do a little bit or to talk about the project, empty shops and recycling.


There was lots of PVA involved; I love PVA! But my new favourite thing is bondaweb!!



Sue and Denise worked together to create their fantastic upcycled chair. They were inspired by a couple of old Asian Kurtas with elaborate embroidery; it’s really fun how they used the embroidery, I love the feet! They decided to create the seat cover out of stamped sized squares of fabric and from there the idea grew.   Sue went about using bondaweb to create the seat cover and Denise fabric wrapping the chair. I was eager to give this a go, so much so that I did get told off for interfering! The seat cover will need some machine embroidery to secure the pieces, so I’ll have to get some help from Joelle our sewing expert at The MAking House on her next machine embroidery course.



Paul got in to playing with the ideas behind the image last week and took this a bit further creating ‘fraser’s view’ table, you are left to ponder who and why.


Jean revisited last weeks lamp stand adorning it with wools, beads and buttons and a feature bow. Violet tried the wrapping on a smaller scale to upcycle a frame and make a pin board.


As I worked on the final window transformation, I got a little more time to watch people passing or stopping intrigued to look, one lady passing by simply shouted in ‘I love it’ , a (presumably local) vicar gave a huge grin as he walked by, so I left feeling inspired and lifted and possibly a little bit more establishment! (Well only a little!)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each week projects get bigger and the recycled shop grows. Tomorrow I’ll be asking people who drop in to help me upcycle some furniture. The van’s loaded with bits and bobs I’ve collected over the years. Not sure how this is going to work as we don’t want to sit there watching paint dry, so i guess I’ll be looking for some quick fix inspiration, fabric and decoupage I think is what’s called for!

This week saw us transforming the rEvive space in to a lighting shop. Lighting was one of the first things I began to do with Bags2riches as I loved the translucency of recycled plastics; the plastic’s also really light and durable. Inspired by  ‘Seeing through Art’ , another project I’ve done recently, I got really excited about creating some new light designs and so didn’t leave The Making House until nearly midnight as I busied myself with creating sheet from plastic bags and sewing patterns.

As well as my own work I also took along inspiration from 2 other local designers: Katie Stainer who works in recycled books and Sarah Turner who works in recycled plastic bottles and recently did a fantastic installation at The Olympic park.





Each week I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many people have come along and joined in with the shop making project and this week was no exception. As well as making I’ve loved how the changing group of people creates a really interesting space for discussion and this week was pretty lively, I learnt lots about music and Long Eaton’s town centre history, as well as plenty of thoughts on recycling. Today’s highlights were:

Paul ‘the thinker’ came along to see if he could help, thinking he’d be moving some furniture around, some 4 hours later he left having created 3 t.lights, much thought was involved in the designs and the play on images, one such scenario, a dog stuck in a quandary deciding between a bone or 2 lovely ladies either side!


‘Mello’ dropped in, intrigued to see what we were doing and in the end was persuaded to get creative.


Jean (not Violet) enjoyed last week and so came back to help create lights and made both plastic T.light shades and then got busy turning an old shade, top and fabric in to a sumptuous bedroom lamp. I was also really chuffed to see she was wearing her ‘bow string’ necklace that she made inspired by last weeks session.


At one point a group of 7 nursery children descended upon the shop ready to get making, so we worked on a group light shade for the other standard lamp stand I’d brought in.




I had a few other projects in mind that people helped me with and then finally after a long, busy, but really enjoyable day, I set about dressing the window.

Today’s been my favourite day so far and I now want to get in to making more lights, so hope you enjoy the shop as much as i did!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


If you are inspired to get making, this is a really important health and safety note:

All the lights have been designed to be used with Energy Efficient Bulbs only; there must also be sufficient space left around the bulb otherwize this is a serious fire hazard.

Don’t use these materials near a flame, conventional light bulb or halogen light bulb. 




So next week, the mission is to create lighting. Drop in between 10.30 and 4pm on Wednesday 22nd August to help me create lighting for the shop display.

In the meantime, I hope you like our jewellery shop. You can also drop in the shop on Saturday when The New Urban Gardeners will be delivering their very unique project, definitely worth dropping in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click on the link to find out more about the courses we run at The Making House.

Bags2riches jewellery, lighting and artwork is all created using recycled plastic bags, click here to find out more.

My latest drop in day was to transform the shop in to a jewellers, showcasing the work created throughout the day as well as Bags2riches jewellery.

A really interesting mix of people came in today to have a go at making jewellery and see what we were doing; there was a chatty creative atmosphere throughout the day.


Gail and Jim enjoyed it so much last week that they came back to try their hand at recycled jewellery, Jim made a button necklace and Gail created a fabric and button bracelet which she found much easier than last weeks flowers.



Violet had read about the project in the window and was at the door waiting for me to arrive and get started! She was really excited about the new potential for the buttons that she’s acquired from various relatives and has a new use for the promotional t.shirts that she gets as an asda employee; they’re now going to be transformed in to ‘bow string’ necklaces.



One lady was drawn in by a bracelet sample and set about making her own from wire and broken jewellery, whilst a mother and daughter got distracted from their charity shop mission and spent the afternoon making instead; they said that they’d found a new hobby and were inspired to try making gifts for their family and friends for xmas.




A key theme for the day was button and fabric bracelets, inspired by some button bracelets that were made by a young person on one of my jewellery projects and joelle harris’ idea to use recycled bottles.


There wasn’t much time for creating new ideas, but i did come up with this design  using tetra pack cartons and an old broken necklace.


Then finally to the display, which came courtesy of old promotional posters from the opticians.



Next Wednesday (15th August) I’ll be at 59 Market Street transforming the display in to a jewellery shop. Using work by Bags2riches, Katie Stainer Contemporary Papercrafts and work made throughout the day.

Drop in between 10.30 and 4 to help me create ReForm’s jewellery shop.

Today, ReForm wil be a florist shop!

I have to say I’m really surprised at the response already to the shop idea, I was shocked to find people waiting at the door when i arrived, ready to help make the florist window! So from opening the door until when I left I didn’t stop making, chatting to people and arranging the display.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Quite a few people came in to make flowers with me and really enjoyed it. I learnt a lot from working with different people and as the day progressed worked out new ways of making the flowers so as to simplify the technique. It was great to meet Joel Stickley, rEvive’s Long Eaton poet, who dropped in to find out what I was doing and stayed around to make a lovely yellow rose; he’ll be writing a poem about the whole project.


So many people stopped to look at talk, so I chatted away about empty shops, art and craft, recycling, make do and mend, council policy….. to probably the weather!

A few thoughts by passers by:

‘reviving Long Eaton….really inspiring’,

‘different…better than another charity shop’,

‘great for kids, we’ll be back’

‘about time the council did something and used these empty shops’

‘great idea, good luck’

Oh and the couple of ladies who commented rather loudly as they passed by

‘urghhh…look at that scruffy shop’

For my first day I decided to decorate the window with rubbish, leaving an invite for people to come help me transform it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve never really spent much time wandering around the shops in Long Eaton, though it’s hard to avoid the giant tesco store which looms over the town,  so when i arrived to set up ReForm I took a look around. Wednesday is market day and it coincided with a lovely sunny day so the town had a fairly busy buzz to it, however it still had the tell tale signs of a struggling town centre. As i walked along the main shopping area between the first rEvive shop, opposite Argos, and my shop, I counted 8 empty shops; I lost count of the number of charity shops. Straying from the main streets though, there are lots of interesting little independent shops. Looking upwards above the shop level there are some grand buildings, not least the beautiful building opposite my shop, which with a leap of imagination and some sun could transport me to Barcelona!

OK, so there’s been a bit of a revision of the Reform 4 rEvive plans, but that’s great for me as I’ll be in 59 Market street until Saturday 1st September, so that means more chance for people to see and get involved in what I’m doing! This has been a difficult project for the organisers, Stella Coulantbanis and Susan Smith from Wash Arts, to organise as there have been lots of issues re: leases and contracts to sort along the way, as a result the plans have been continuously changing to meet shop, council and artists needs.

The new plans are still along the same idea of different shops, but instead of a daily change it will be a weekly one. I’ll be in the shop in Long Eaton developing different shop displays as follows:

Wednesday 15th August: Jewellery Shop

Wednesday 22nd August: Lighting shop

Wednesday 29th August: Furniture shop

Saturday 1st September: Anything goes challenge, when you can bring in anything and work with me to transform it.

Also on Saturday 18th September the the ‘New Urban Gardeners’ will be in doing there project for the day I saw them at the Jubilee Hemlock Happening, it’s a great idea and looks really fun to take part.

So tomorrow I start ReEvive and today I’ve been reflecting on former projects and how to go about the project in Long Eaton. I start tomorrow and will take over 59 Main Street until next Thursday 16th August.

I’m a bit of a control freak, I like to know what I’m doing and then show people a sorted end product, so when i did The Standing Rooms residency, it was a real challenge for me to not know who or what would turn up, but that did lead to interesting and different outcomes. As I looked through my pictures today for this blog, I began to feel very exposed, I don’t like people to look at my sketchbooks or read my thoughts. ReForm is about process, ideas and developments and the pictures reflect that, but I keep looking for a beautiful end product. For reEvive, whilst i want to maintain the experimental aspect I can’t help feeling I need to include some ready made end products, to support the process. There are plenty of artists who do fantastic recycling, many based in the midlands and so along the way I’d like to introduce people to them through my shop venture.

For ReEvive, I’m planning, (a little in Mr Ben style) to theme the shop and drop ins each day.  

This Thursday I’ll be opening a florist, come along with any unwanted packaging, paper, bags or anything else if you really want to challenge me and make flowers and vases from recycled materials

Friday, Joelle Harris will be running a dress shop, demonstrating how to upcycle clothes

Saturday will be a jewellery shop, bring along your recyled bits and bobs to make in to jewellery (now unless your in to serious statement pieces, keep it small!!)

Tuesday it’s on to lighting, for safety reasons we’ll start with an existing shade or lamp and upcycle it, so if you have an old light you fancy renovating why not drop in.

Wednesday is Furniture day, but the start point needn’t necessarily be a piece of furniture, drop in with an object to recycle, I’m up for the challenge or if you want to just drop in and help me with a project that’s fine.

By Thursday 16th we should have a full on department store of objects! So (almost) anything goes

Each day we’ll be open from 10 until 4pm, we hope you’ll come along and take part, bring along something to recycle or just drop in to see what we’re up to.