Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Art of Scavenging (Lessons From Randy)!

Some people make things look so easy. I have a friend, Randy, who is the world's best scrounge. His home should be featured in a magazine. The decor is impeccable - tasteful and expensive looking. The interesting thing about it though, is that there is hardly an item in the house that was obtained at full retail price. We aren't merely talking about good sales either. We're talking deep discount on down to (possibly my favorite word in the English language after "love") FREE. How does he do it?

1. He is opportunistic. When presented with opportunity, he strikes, often not really knowing what he's going to do with an item once obtained, or how he is going to transport it. Our former place of employment was undergoing some renovations, which included the demolition of some Victorian era buildings. One day Randy noticed that workers were dismantling a marble staircase. He stopped one and asked what was being done with the marble. When he discovered that they planned to scrap it, he picked out a large slab from a landing and put it aside. Through one connection, he got ahold of a truck to move the marble, and via another he had the slab cut and polished into a top for a four seat table!

2. He is not afraid to take a chance on a sow's ear. Randy sees the potential in every cast-off pile of household detritus sitting by the side of the road with a sign that says (here's my favorite word again) "free". One day while I was visiting, Randy was focused on some activity going on outside. Some neighbors were moving a chaise down to the curb for trash day. Before they had made it all the way back inside, Randy was downstairs figuring out how to move it up to his place. On close inspection, it was not in showroom condition, but no matter, in it came, a once and future chaise. One man's trash is truly another man's treasure.

3. He invests time and elbow grease in his finds. The aforementioned chaise was treated to a full reupholstery job - but not in some fancy and expensive shop. No, Randy did the reupholstery himself with fabric also obtained at a deep discount.

4. A corollary to #3, he is not afraid to learn a new skill. When Randy "inherited" a cast-off dining room set from friends, he learned to strip the finish and lovingly applied layer after layer of tung oil. When the original owners saw the refurbished set, they were amazed at the result! As the result of this willingness to learn, Randy can do electric work, basic plumbing, furniture reupholstery and wood refinishing, stained glass, painting, wallpapering and much more.

Randy is one of my favorite inspirations as I look to reuse and upcycle. I think of him fondly whenever I see that pile by the side of the road, a scratch and dent item in a store, or an item in a thrift store. Thanks, Randy, I've learned a lot from you.

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