Upcycle/Recycle – Seventh Cloud Studios

Sorry it’s been a bit.  I have been in small square hell and trying to finish up a large custom order.  Meet Courtney from Seventh Cloud Studio.  All of her pieces are upcycled/recycled from varying inspirations.  If you are looking for a unique gift, this could be the shop.

Tell me a bit about you and your Etsy shop…

Let’s see…I live in the beautiful Hudson Valley area of New York with my moody-but-loveable chinchilla Pablo. My primary business is as a freelance writer—mostly marketing copy, with the occasional memoir editing project or travel article thrown in. My first love is writing fiction, and strange as it sounds, that’s how I discovered jewelry-making: I was away at a writing workshop and discovered a bead store in town. It quickly became an addiction that continued after I went home. Eventually, people started asking me if I sold my jewelry, and finally I decided that I’d better start, because I had way more than any one person will ever need! A friend told me about Etsy and Seventh Cloud Studio was born.

To me, my jewelry, my writing, and my love of words and books are all related in my messy and tangled mind (my shop and my copywriting business share part of their names –Seventh Cloud—the “cloud” part of which was taken from a quote from writer Richard Brautigan; I get to use my writing skills when naming and writing descriptions for my jewelry; and creating jewelry using color and texture is similar to me to composing words that also work well together and set each other off).

My Etsy shop is unique in that every single piece is a completely original design that’s never duplicated—I only make one of each piece ever. I love using semi-precious stones (the properties and symbolisms of stones has always interested me), Hill Tribe silver, and incorporating pieces and elements of vintage jewelry and other objects into new pieces. I love to make big bold pieces that look great on tall and/or plus-sized women, or just women who have a big presence and personality and aren’t afraid to stand out! I also love to make unique pieces that are a bit more conservative but still have a certain “Seventh Cloud” style—so that even if you prefer a more classic and timeless look, you don’t need to wear cookie-cutter jewelry. Jewelry is a great way to make a simple outfit pop.

How did you get started using upcycled/recycled products?
I’ve always loved going to yard sales, flea markets, and antique shops and after I started making jewelry, I started noticing all the fantastic outdated brooches and broken necklaces and single earring, etc. that I could give new life to…I hate to see anything go to waste, and I love the idea of using things that are already in existence and have a history, rather than create a demand for things that don’t yet.

What do you like the most about using those products?
I love that I can take a brooch that someone’s grandma should wear, and combine it with new elements to make something modern and funky. I love that each piece has its own history, and I imagine that some of the previous owner’s experiences and energies become part of that piece and that they rub off on the new owner. (Like if you buy a vintage engagement ring, you want to know that the couple was happy.) I also love that I could pull out the same materials two days in a row and come up with two completely different designs—it all depends on my mood and experiences of that day, and each time I take out my beads, I see something different waiting to be created from them.

What do you like the least? Challenges?
Hmmmm….Well, I guess I’d say that sometimes I have to buy a box of stuff when I can only use 10% of what’s in it! And I guess that sometimes it can be tricky, depending on the construction of the piece, to convert it into something different…like fastening an old brooch to a necklace as a pendant. Sometimes I just can’t execute what I imagine because there’s no good way to attach or convert something. And that’s super frustrating and disappointing.

How do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. In an unusual color combination. A vintage piece that tells me it’s not ready to go to the curb after somebody’s yard sale. The weather (my Hurricane Irene series is a perfect example). An outfit I see on someone and think “That needs a necklace, a long one, with onyx and pink crazy lace agate.” A beautiful stone. A song. A story. Memories and mysteries. My sister’s graceful neck (she’s modeling many of the pieces in my Etsy shop, and is tall and statuesque—built perfectly for some of the bigger ones!) A country or a national park. Something I’ve done or want to do.

And the Rain Came Down

What feedback do you have from others about using these products?
People love them because when I combine something old with new elements, they know they’re getting something completely original. They love to hear about what the piece was originally and how I got it. And there’s a nostalgia too…People have said things like “Oh, my grandmother wore a pin like that!” and while a pin like that would be too old fashioned for them, the fact that it’s used in a necklace that’s modern or trendy or playful or timeless makes it something they respond to both emotionally and aesthetically.

Favorite upcycled/recycled item.

From my shop: “And the Rain Came Down” necklace from my Hurricane Irene series: see the photo above.  This actually uses a broken Christmas ornament that I got at a huge church yard sale. I made it when we were without power after Hurricane Irene hit our area last summer. I think that using the ornament as a focal point kind of parallels how people had to improvise during something we are not at all used to here—I’d never heard of so many alternative ways to make coffee during a power outage! In my immediate area, we were very lucky, but just a few miles away there was such devastation. You don’t hear much about it anymore, but there are still a lot of homes and businesses that need to rebuild. A portion of the sale of the three pieces in my Hurricane Irene series will go to the local Habitat for Humanity to help those efforts.

Another favorite from my shop, just because it’s so striking: On the Fringe necklace:

This features a focal point that was part of a broken necklace from a yard sale.

Another favorite that’s not listed: To wear one New Year’s Eve, I made myself a necklace that used my Dad’s God-mother’s stopped watch. I removed the band and hung it to float inside a diamond-shaped frame (also upcycled). Her initials are engraved on the back of it. Her life was a bit of a mystery, but she was an incredibly caring and good-hearted woman. We kind of consider Betty the patron saint of our family, so wearing that piece makes me feel close to her, and like she’s watching over me.

Upcycle/Recycle – squeakycleansoapco

Participating in the Etsy forums gives you an opportunity to reach out and meet other sellers.  I have been admiring Andi from squeakycleansoapco‘s work over the last couple of weeks and she was nice enough to provide some insight on her upcycled/recycled items. She uses recycled molds for her Espresso Yourself Soaps.

The inspiration for the Espresso Yourself Soap was my other passion: coffee. I initially bought myself a Keurig so I could have hot fresh coffee in the morning before heading out for my various volunteer responsibilities. After making and wasting an entire pot each day I started going to everyone’s favorite coffee shop and that was really making a dent in my wallet and the waste from the cups was beginning to pile up. So making my own coffee, one cup at a time was not only convenient but made good economical and ecological sense. BUT there was some waste: the actual K-cup. I started searching for other ways I could use them, and there are MANY (seedling starter pots, popsicle containers, jewelry organizers etc) but when I started to think of ways to reuse them while sipping my coffee one afternoon, inspiration struck and the Espresso Yourself Soap was born!

I love that k-cup is used as a mold and again as the packaging for the soaps and that since all the prepping for soap mold use is done before the customer receives their soap, they can actually just recycle the container when they are finished with it.

The challenge of using K-cups is that they have to be disassembled. Each K-cup is sealed with a foil lid and contains a filter and of course, the coffee. The seals are a challenge because if you dont remove them just so, you end up spending a LOT more time peeling off the edges still attached. And its messy. Sometimes, REALLY messy. My daughter likes to help with that! 🙂

My inspiration comes from my own children but mostly my customers. They challenge me to find new and exciting ways to make their event special. My personal motto is “I can do anything” and when it comes to making soap, I relish a challenge. When a customer asks me if I can make something for them and I spend time talking about what they would like, it builds not only my understanding of their wishes but a great customer relationship and that is always my first priority.

These soaps are fantastic exfoliants because they contain real espresso grounds. The coffee acts as a deodorizer for strong odors like garlic or even dirt. I use them at the end of the day to remove any extra fragrances or soap from my hands. Coffee lovers enjoy the novelty and the invigorating aroma and the chefs in my life report it removes all kinds of kitchen odors. And how fun to have an espresso you can’t spill!

Check them out for yourself.

Upcycle/Recycle – wassupbrothers

Meet Olga from wassupbrothers on Etsy.  Her shop is based on softie creatures and cuties (mostly owls) made and created by her.

Here is what she has to say about her shop, inspiration, and using upcycled/recylced items.

Some years in my life I was uncontrolled user, not shopaholic, but I’ve used too many things I don’t need. Unnecessary, and needless things. I used too much, I ate too much, all that bling blings in ears ,and cosmetic.

In 2009 i start being vegan and many things get clear for me about food, life,and everything.

I think people have to think, why do they have to buy something, if they can do it for their self. Planet resources are not endless. And I’m happy the number of people who think about it and want to change something is growing.

Recycled and handmade things have not only ethic nature, its always about past and story behind them. They are soulful and have many energy.

My inspiration come from nature, morning sunshine, pieces of fabrics, my wonderful funny dogs. Sometimes you can take one strange buttщn and in the end you have beautiful bird or lion. You never know what you will have in the end, that’s why I do not use patterns mostly.

Feedback. I have positive feedback from others about it. here in Russia we have many misunderstanding in recycling and eco issue, but anyway, my friends use recycled, upcycled products and make them for their self also.

Her favorite thing on the day I asked was this wonderful owl pendant.

Upcycle/Recycle – LeMaisonBelle

Shop #2 in my series of Etsy artists using upcycled and/or recycled items.  Meet LeAnn from LeMaisonBelle.  She has graciously offered a coupon to my readers for 10% off, use the code QUILTYTHERAPY.  Below is an item that may be coming to my home.

Tell me a bit about you and your Etsy shop…
My name is LeAnn Cooper, and I was born and raised in Mississippi. I started out 6 years ago selling large-scale painted furniture pieces, and just recently opened Le Maison Belle at Etsy. I focus mainly on small home decor pieces using vintage and upcycled elements. I also offer limited series black and white photographs, alphabet photography, and signs made from reclaimed wood with original artwork.

To most the name Le Maison Belle means “The House Beautiful”, but the shop is actually named after our Great Dane, Belle, who basically owns our house…so to us the names means “The House of Belle”.

How did you get started using upcycled/recycled products?
My grandmother was an avid sewer – and she never threw even the tiniest scrap of fabric away. When her pile got too large to handle, she’d begin making quilts. I think you’d probably call them crazy quilts today. I was always amazed at the beautiful quilts she made from sometimes the ugliest, tiniest strips of fabric. I think that’s where my “I know I can use this for something” mentality comes from.

We live in a house that was built in 1856, so we have lots of scrap wood from years of remodel projects. That’s how the painted signs venture got started. I also owned an antiques shop, so I have lots of small decorative items just waiting to be loved!

What do you like the most about using those products?
A lot of old items can have so much character – even an old piece of wood. You just don’t seem to find that in a lot of the items manufactured today. I love taking castoff items and imagining them as something completely new and different, and then seeing them take on a new life.

What do you like the least? Challenges?
When incorporating antique pieces into my designs, I take great pains to maintain the integrity of the antique pieces themselves. Even if a piece is rusted beyond having any monetary value, I find myself wincing as I paint it. I usually end up glad that I did though.

How do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by so many things…it’s hard to pick just one. I usually let things tell me what they want to be. I’ve found that if I try to force it, I don’t always end up pleased with the final product.

I find tremendous inspiration in other artists. The idea for the “Love is all You Need” sign that I painted came from graffiti that I saw painted on a building. “Love is all you need” was painted on the front; then, when I rounded the corner, “yes it is” was painted on the side.

What feedback do you have from others about using these products?
I spend a lot of time making freebies for friends and family. They’ll see something I’ve made and say, “Oh, can you make this for me in that color?” And I always do. I have so much fun making all of the items that I sell at Le Maison Belle, and I hope that everyone loves the products as much as I love creating them. I get a thrill when someone actually appreciates an item enough to purchase it.

Favorite upcycled/recycled item. Please include picture or link.
Oh, that’s a hard one! I love how the Ships in a Bottle turned out, and I really enjoy making the painted signs; but I’d have to say my favorite item would be the red magnetic bulletin board – red is my favorite color. This is also one of the items most requested by friends and family.


Upcycle/Recycle – Sofia10

Today I am showcasing Sofia from Sofia10 shop on Etsy.  She has been recycling items for many years, it was part of the way she was raised.

She came to the United States in 1979 with two suitcases and $150 in her pocket.  The Soviet Union did not allow people to take anymore money out of the country with them.  That is scary and brave all at the same time.

Since life in the USSR was hard, everyone recycled.  Nothing was allowed to go to waste.

She loves to take something pretty, but unusable and make something nice.  For example, she would take a single earring and make it into a ring.

One of her favorites.

Sofia finds inspiration all around in nature, spring flowers, etc.

Please visit Sofia’s shop and check out her wonderful creations and vintage items.  Just don’t take my favorite.