For the Big Game Hunter with a kind heart.

I love Uncommon Goods.  I admit it.  When their catalog arrives in the mail, I drop whatever I’m doing and devote all my attention to it.

 Its filled with perky products, giggle-worthy gifts and beautiful baubles for wallets of all thicknesses.

 In addition to the myriad of marvels the catalog holds, I am spellbound by the creativity of the artists that are showcased, much of it is recycled or reclaimed.

 For instance, bowls made of recycled bicycle chains (that sounds much nicer than made of ‘old bicycle chains’, doesn’t it).  Flip flops made of old tires and not just any old tires, old RACE CAR TIRES!  So won’t you be the cool one to wear these!?!

 Seriously, they have great stuff at Uncommon Goods.  Here are a few of my favorites – all of them from recycled or reclaimed materials (this is not a hint to buy me anything, btw, seriously).

Textile Spool Wine Rack, from a pre-WWII cotton factor-turned radial belt facility 

I want to make one of these for myself!

Wine Bottle Tea Light Holders

Slate Cheese Board, reclaimed chalk boards fromFranklinElementary School in Quincy, Illinois– well, OK, this actually seems a little gross, to put your cheese on old chalkboards  

...not sure I like this idea...

Neato!

Wine Barrel Swing, stuff made from wine barrel staves is all the rage! 

Meadow Blossoms, recycled roof tin from Georgia

Fire Extinguisher vase, yes, out of old fire extinguishers, from Florida

Edison Sconce, wood reclaimed from Thomas Edison’s Wisconsin phonograph factory!  

Sweater Potholders, from sweaters and T-shirts salvaged from Goodwill

I love the bold colors!

Rice Sack Lunch Bags, salvaged from mills, printers and manufacturers in the Philippines  

IPad Case, Messenger Bag and Wallet, made from recycled mosquito nets! 

Plus there are belts made from fire hoses, jewelry made from brass bullet casings, trophy fish plaque made from recycled cardboard, necklaces made from recycled sake’ bottles!

Uncommon Goods celebrates individual artists, too, with info about them on the website and in the catalog and the item descriptions include their names and where the item was made…North Carolina, China, Canada, California, India, Oregon, Mexico, Vermont, United Kingdom, artists from all over the world.  

From upcycled wetsuits...

It’s like going to a superb craft fair.  I like knowing who made something, that it wasn’t some faceless machine stamping out identical what-nots and knick-knacks.  Have you noticed how so many souvenirs have very little to do with wherever you are?  There are the same mugs and t-shirts for sale, just with the state or town shoved in – ‘My parents went to X and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.  Or mugs with the outline of the state or ‘I heart X’ on it…generic, boring, non-specific souvenirs for desperate last-minute purchases when you realize you sat in a meeting the entire week without seeing one bit of the town and now you have an hour to kill at the airport.

One of the best things about Uncommon Goods is the contest they have to find the next great product, a YouGoods contest asking people to submit their designs and inventions.  They also ask people to vote on what products they want to see in the catalog.

I can’t remember the exact contest, but one time it was something like create a product out of car parts – like those purses I mentioned before made out of seat belts.  I’ve seen a clock using radio antennae and glassware out of windshields and those flip flops made from old tires.  Try as I might, I was not able to think of something unique, darn it…  What could I do with old radio buttons?  Or headrests?  Or timing belts?  Spark plugs?  Help me, people!

What have you discovered?  Catalogs, websites, flea markets, craft fairs that aren’t the same-old, same-old stuff.  Share your discoveries with the rest of us.

Made from construction fencing...

       

I remember a craft fair where the artist tatted greeting cards (sort of like crochet, but not) and another where welcome signs were painted on roofing slate, those were lovely ideas, well thought-out and well-crafted, I actually bought 6 slates to give as house-warming presents to certain of our clients.  Then there was the booth filled with sculptures made of iron and rocks, they were hideous!  It doesn’t help to have a great idea but no artistic talent!  (And if anyone brings up the purses made out of placemats, you’re dead…)

Golf club spheres!

 

Rick loves the booth that has mirrors with frames of inlaid wood.  We were lucky enough to be able to buy a beautiful wood in-laid picture in Sorrento,Italy, a few years ago – too many years ago.   The entire store was filled with them, all sizes (even more than 12’ wide!)  and all complexities.  Such talent to create those.  We’ve also seen magnificent tables of inlaid stone and marble.  So detailed, they look like rugs.  Gorgeous and sooooo pricey!

Another site I like is www.etsy.com  its basically many, many craftspeople selling their wares – from furniture that’s been repainted or refinished and given new life, pottery, deconstructed t-shirts and sweaters, jewelry, dolls, dresses, pretty much everything under the sun.  Kind of like eBay but not an auction and, from what I could see, everything offered for sale is by artisans of all kinds.  And…go to www.regretsy.com to see the kinds of disasterous crafts that are also for sale on the website (as featured on MSN.com today!).

I just found out that ‘upcycled’ means using materials that would have been tossed or recycled.  An example would be taking fabric left over from a project and using it for some other project, such as makes purses or notebook covers out of denim that was leftover from making jeans.  The fabric isn’t tossed or recycled, the scraps are used for another project. 

So tell me where you like to go to find unique things.

Doesn't this chair look comfortable?

…and, no, Uncommon Goods (www.UncommonGoods.com) has no idea I’m so enamored of them.  They don’t pay me (more’s the pity) and I actually can’t afford most of their stuff, just now…but when they’ve got a good sale going, I’m there!  😉

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