Upcycle Innervation

Introducing the world of re-purposing material and creating a product of quality



Switching gears slightly, the conversation of this post is dedicated to up cycling water. How do we take the water we use and re-use it to create something of quality, specifically while living in an apartment. Climate Progress has blogged extensively on California’s drought, its climate impacts and solutions. This is the scenario myself and millions of people  live with. Attempting to live inline with my sustainable ethic, apartment living  has forced me to become creative with my water use in the spirit of not wanting to waste a precious resource.

Water conservation has become routine, becoming an ingredient that make specific parts of my life blossom, like my flowers and patio garden. Peeking out  my front door you’ll see beautifully constructed redwood garden boxes, growing, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, drought tolerant herbs, and a salsa garden that spices up my culinary creations. Caring for my garden is gratifying, however the watering is a challenge. The challenge is one I place on myself, because  most apartment complexes  pay for the water, which perpetuates an attitude of its free, so why worry about its conservation. Several tenants have stated emphatical, their disinterest in conserving water, going about life using it as if in endless supply. While I wont make this a political posting, I’ll say at some point politics will step in when excessive water use is statical applied to rental increases.

Scattered though out my apartment are houseplants and ferns which need watering twice a week. When I include the patio garden of edibles and herbs, the need for watering becomes constant.

How do I conserve

1) Each morning I make an important cup of coffee via my french press (favorite staple).  Cleaning a press can be challenge, since coffee grounds are not meant for the disposal. I could scape them out and toss in rubbish, but that’s waste full. Each time the press gets rinsed, the outside plants get watered with the coffee grounds, which benefit the soil, however this cannot be done every day because grounds are acidic for the soil. Plants get a rotating  feed and watering and the off days the ground go in to my apartment compost.

2) This one might be a bit extreme some folks, smilingly I say, it’ll make for close quarters. While showering I leave a watering pail in the tub, designing an elementary catchment and grey water system. This is the simplest way to water plants using a grey water. Since I use all natural and chemical free product, there is no worry of poisoning my beloved plants.  The one flaw in my system is the lack of catchment in the shower. But it’s still a simple way of using grey water and not retrofitting anything permanent, especially since living in an apartment makes that difficult.

You may be asking what this has to with up cycling and what am I repurposing. My plants are my are benefiting generously from my repurposing water. Water is a natural resource that gets wasted on daily basis. If I added up all the gallons of water conserved and reused, I’d respectfully say it’s about 100 gallons a month. Imagine this on an exponential level, the per apartment, per gallon savings could make a dent in the water loss to water save ratio.

for other ideas on apartment living and conservation, check in to the link below.



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Ground-Score Sculptures II

Jody Stein has done it again, creating intricate, one of  a kind, masterful “Ground Score Sculptures.” Her latest series, positioned as an army of art below, are created and erected  from discarded scrape metal fragments, pencil reminisce and plastic pieces that once were the innards of some random technological device.  Recently, Stein expended her art studio, which inspired these new creations. I am the lucky one, getting to feast my eyes on these treasures first hand and then getting to share with you the fruits of Steins artist design.

Within each piece of media that  “Ground Score Sculptures” are created from, tell a cycle of stories. Some how this media has become part of Steins’ sculptures and  what she artistically does is retell the story. Her fingers are nimble and skilled at fine detailed work. Creating miniature works of art, she is often designing with tiny fragments and slivers of media.

Each sculpture uniquely joins, symmetry, balance, design and color, creating something of wonder. I have often ask Jody how she knows pieces of media will fit as through they were one . Her answer, “the pieces talk to me, I just know.” What impresses me most is the physical balance she creates in each sculpture.

Pictures do not do Jody Stein’s ground score sculptures justice.  They are meant to be experienced up close, at eye level. Having both a front and back side to each sculpture, viewing the circumference, demonstrates the intricacy  and  detailing Stein has captured in each, one of a kind piece.

I must add the Jody in her own way is contributing to a microcosm of sustainability and up cycling, taking something ( discards from our daily lives) and creating something of quality and value.

Email Jody at







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Railroad Spikes Re-Hooked

This weeks up-cycle piece was inspired by a few field trip outings I embarked on last year. I was taking a walking adventure along the new SMART rail train project still in construction behind Aroma Roasters.  While exploring I found several old railroad spikes laying in the rubble. They must have been pulled from the old track when the new construction began. On a few occasions after my discovery I stopped a worker to inquire and got very little information. On the day I found the spikes I used for this project, there were several more lying around. In my heart i left them hopping someone else would find one and be inspired like myself.

Discovering the spikes gave me the idea of a coat rack designed specifically for the  wall. Combination art piece and utility installation. On a field trip to Goat Rock beach off  Highway 1 in California, I found a mound of drift wood. It was impressively large, wish I had a photo for you.  For the next hour I search for the right piece. At the time I was looking for ascetics not practicality, something that I would later wish I had looked for  because, even though my end project was interesting and beautiful, it was middle  heavy. I choose the final piece because the spikes would evenly fit, with a good distance from each-other, however, it was like I mentioned before, a little to mid heavy and difficult to hang. I am still searching for the right hook to attach my rack, one that is not so large that it will take away from the ascetics.

The final piece still makes me proud and brings a smile to my face. There is a story in those spikes somewhere. Thousands of miles of train cars have rolled over them, bringing a story within it self. That is the joy of up cycling. Recreating with recycled media, one is giving new life to an old object. Every thing has a story that should keep on sharing, instead of landing in our Mountain Range Dumps.









Banner of Books

As we forge forward in this ever-increasing arena of electronic communication, the ever LOVED book (one you can hold in your hands, experience) is exponentially becoming phased out. While I still have a great library and will continue to mass it,  and, used book stores like TreeHorn Books,  are staying a float as a novelty and counter-culture interest, thousands of books are making their way to the Great landfills of our communities.

What to do with these books, once loved, so they become something better, unique.  Well I have shown cased a few ideas so far, but how about banners. Books have unique pages, colors, designs and wording styles that can enhance any stencil one would wont to super-impose in to them. A few weeks ago, my friend shared with me her hammer of love, someone had made her family. I thought  it was the greatest idea. What an ingenious way to reuse books. This idea could be expanded on in so many ways. One could  paint pictures that are theme appropriate for the occasion, like baby showers, weddings, and birthdays, or a special night for the one you love. Since the media is paper, stickers will work perfectly, (smiling at the simplicity of it).  I  confess, I still have childhood scrapbooks full of old stickers that I collected as a little girl, yep that’s right, I was a Lisa Frank fan!!

This is just the beginning, the possibilities  for reusing old books to create banners and other craft projects is endless.









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Pallet to Play Fort

When I put a call out to my community, about my blog, Upcycle-Innervation starting up, I told everyone I was searching for up cycled projects, completed or in the proscess of completion, to show case. My friends Scott and Sorel jumped at the opportunity. And I could see why instantly, when I went over to their house to take picture of their project. My first reaction was WOW, this is incredible and ingenious.

Scott has designed and constructed a play fort for his 2 boys, built from the frame of an old doll house and re-used wooden pallets. While in its finishing stage, one can see the quality and love for the project. Painstakingly, with hours of patients, Scott had cut, sized, sanded and fine fit ever piece of wood, including that which will become the outer walls of the fort. Made to mimic a castle fort, Scott hand carved/tooled the Pinnical watch tower which is flanked by two watch towers. Each tower is adorned with crow stepped gables that encircle their top platform. Stairways leading from each story, has been hand carved and micro fitted to perfect size. Each corner has the feel and look of a traditional wood fort ( see photos below). Landing between each tower, allow the boys ample space to play out any fantasy their hearts desire.

Pictures below, demonstrate the craftsmanship and skill Scott has put in to this project for his boy’s. This will be a treasured, loved and well played with toy for years to come. And the memories that will be built by helping dad build this fort and years of playing with it, will be priceless.

Extra bonus is Scott used reused materials, which cut down the price for a fort of this size and quality. The environment thanks him.

Being in the last stages of completion, I will showcase the final project when completed with anticipation.

Statistics vary regarding just how many million wood pallets now reside in landfills. Some estimates claim that as many as 200 million wood pallets are thrown into U.S. landfill facilities every year. Of those that find their way to the dump, over half were used only once before they were discarded. If ever there was a poster child for conspicuous waste, the wood pallet is it.











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Floating Crane Mobile

Origami ( the Japanese art of decorative paper-folding) has always fascinated me. From a distance I would admire and secretly covet elaborate deigns and styles. Part of my embarking on this Up-cycle blog, was to have the opportunity to put my crafty intentions into action. An origami project was first on this list. So…

Last weekend my dear friend Jody Stein, creator of ” Ground Score Sculptures” and myself got together and created the MOST fabulous Floating Crane mobile using paper from old magazines and twigs from her back yard. Being a first timer with origami, I was grateful to have a pro as my guide. Jody was patient when demonstrating each fold necessary to allow for the step by step process (she would make a great teacher). Especially, since working with the slick, glossy and heavy magazine paper was unforgiving. A later challenge would be finding the center of gravity when the cranes were strung up on a twig because, each crane’s weight was different do to the ink not being uniform for each page. With our finished project being a little off-center, we decided the asymmetrical look gave the mobile character.

Flipping through magazines, we choose pages with a particular color theme, red, purple and sparkles from large-scale jewelry ads. Attempting to guess at what the finished crane would look like was difficult because, we were un-sure where the pattern would land on the body or wing. Throwing caution to the wind, we allowed for artistic mystery to take over. The result was a unique pattern formed from the fashion ads, that in their own right are pretty snazzy.

Each square was measured and cut by hand, which took about 15 minutes. Folding the cranes took longer than expected, since I was practicing the, learn as we go method. We made 9 cranes, based on a  3/4 tier design Jody drew up. I have searched high and low for a HOW TO link, with no luck. This is a Jody original. However, listed below are links for instructions on folding origami and string mobiles. Have fun and remember it’s about the creativity and up cycle. everyone’s project will have  different result. Enjoy.

At the end of post is a sweet 22 second video of the Floating Crane Mobile








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Belt Buckles ” wear-able art”

This week I’m more showing off, than show casing an Up-cycling project. Over the last few years, I’ve been creating belt buckles, each unique, do to the media used to design the front facade.  Never knowing what the end product will be, each piece is unique, making it “wearable art.” Catering to the lover of uniformity, abstract and relief designs, these buckles are sparkly, matte, metal cold and swede, just to descried a few directions my designs take. My studio is over flowing with media of all sorts, like batches of buttons, watch parts, keys to doors that no longer exist or made for that matter and costume jewelry, just to rattle off a few media sources. One of my favorite places to hunt media is at Pick-in Pull junk yards, especially for car emblems and shattered windshields. It is amazing the relief deigns the shards of tempered glass creates. Never at a loss for media, since I use material that would once have been on a one way trip to our ever-growing mountain ranges called Land Fills.

Granted, my canvas, being belt buckle blanks that I purchased new, makes my designs not completely 100% up-cycled. But I have found it difficult to find reused or thrift store buckles. Having spent many hours searching the second-hand nooks and crannies of Sonoma Co., I am left to believe that fashionistas, like myself , hold on to old buckels. Many times we buy them as a personal character purchase, at least I do.

I have selected for this blog a few simple designs created from, computer parts, shoelaces, leather stripes, junked beaded curtains (gold stars), metal used to insulate a car carburetor, sequins and fabric. They all reflect a colorful, fun, sparkly theme. I like to create streams of one of a kind, similar design themes. Custom designs are a specialty. Many friends have brought personal trinkets that they wanted to re-create into something new, different and wearable, makes for a fantastical story, wrapped in sentiment.

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