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Repurposed Military-ware

The ultimate in upcycling and repurposing is turning old military items and war-time materials into functional and wearable peacetime pieces. Who’d have thought Jerry Cans, unexploded bombs, shell casings and disarmed nuclear weapon systems could be anything other than unwanted waste?

Danish Fuel

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Danish Fuel Jerry Can Bar Cabinet

Danish Fuel collects original World War Two Jerry Cans from military surplus stock houses and with a lot of elbow grease breathes new life into them to create Bar Cabinets, First Aid Stations, Bathroom cabinets and Trolley suitcases.

And in case you’re wondering where the name came from, ‘Jerry’ was the slang word used by the British and American armed forces for the Germans during World War II. The can’s original name was ‘Whermacht-Einheitskanister’ , meaning armed forces unit canister and was designed to hold fuel.

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Danish Fuel Jerry Can Bathroom Cabinet

Article 22

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Arrow Bangles –  the arrows point forwards without forgetting the past.

Article 22 partners with artisans in off-the-beaten-track places to create modern jewellery with provenance. Their first collection, Peacebomb is jewellery handcrafted in Laos from Vietnam War shrapnel.

Each piece gives back to support traditional Laotian artisan livelihoods, village development, community endeavours and contributes to the Mines Advisory Group to safely clear some of the 80 million unexploded bombs contaminating land in Laos.

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Makeshift Accessories

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World War Two shell casing money clip with British coin 1944. The projectile would have been used in a long-range naval or artillery weapon, and the casing was most likely brought back as a souvenir of the war.

Devin Johnson crafts metal, such as shell casings of long-range military weapons from the Vietnam War and World War II-era armed forces brass shell casings, into money clips in his sustainable, repurposing business Makeshift Accessories.

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Vietnam War shell casing money clip 1974

From War to Peace

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Gold-dipped (using recycled precious metals) Seven Rings of Peace Earrings

From War To Peace recycles copper from disarmed nuclear weapon systems to create an  alloy called Peace BronzeTM, from which they cast jewelry and art. Originally the copper was mined in Montana, USA, then used as the cabling that carried launch codes to Minuteman III Nuclear Missiles in the American mid-west. Thanks to disarmament and recycling, that copper now helps launch peace in the 21st Century.

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Tree of Life necklace

I’m sure there are many others doing such great, sustainable work with war-time waste. Let us know if you hear of any!


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The Larapinta Trail

There’s nothing quite like climbing red mountains at dawn, showering in green canvas tents with dodgy flaps and “chewing the fat” fireside, under the expanse of a milky blanket of stars. 

I’d never entered the Red Centre. Well, not Australia’s Red Centre anyway. It was high time I connected with the earth beneath me and dropped out of internet range for a stint. So last month with 7 friends, I trekked the Classic Larapinta Trail with company World Expeditions, starting at Alice Springs. All I knew of Alice came from absorbing the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, so I was at least prepared for an abundance of red rocks (minus the cocks in this case). The extreme dryness, extreme heat and extreme cold were foreign to me, so the existence of wildflowers and abundance of bush tucker in this harsh landscape enthralled.

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Our six day expedition followed the line of the Northern Territory’s West MacDonnell Ranges and involved hiking 10-13 kms per day, too easy when your back pack only contains water and blister protection for the day. Our guides clearly had the lions’ share, transporting us, cooking for us, cleaning for us, all the while puffing out historical knowledge like smoke-clouds used in aboriginal tribal communication.

Each night was spent at a purpose-built campsite where hot showers and compostable toilets afforded 5 star desert luxury. Modesty flew out the window, or tent flap more precisely. Environmentally friendly soap, pea straw and the “donkey” (a gas powered water heater) became our closest allies as ego washed away.

The opportunity to grab your swag and sleep under the stars proved inspiring. Many a shooting star was spotted and wished upon, made all the more magic among friends.

Each day we trekked a peaceful pathway in a westerly direction visiting Standley’s Chasm, Serpentine and Ormiston Gorges, punctuated only by a not-so-peaceful 2am wake-up to summit Mount Sonder for sunrise, where we saluted the dawn with some goddess-like yoga…feeling seriously invincible and zen.

Taking time out from the rigours of domestic life and work couldn’t be more rewarding. Immersing yourself in a foreign landscape and surviving the rigours of rock-hopping are one thing, but challenging yourself to listen, observe and learn to be at one with Country is another.

 

Interview: CRASH Jewellery

If you’ve ever fancied owning a luxury car – a Porsche or Maserati perhaps – but just can’t quite afford one, jewellery designer Christi Schimpke of CRASH Jewelry has the perfect solution. She designs and makes sustainable cuffs, bangles, earrings, necklaces, rings and cufflinks from the metal of late-model luxury cars such as Maserati, Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and more. What a great idea!

With a husband who runs an automobile collision repair shop, Christi was in an ideal position to see the amount of cast-off sheet metal and parts being replaced on such luxury cars and work out ways in which to upcycle them. It’s an idea that has taken off since she began four years ago. So much so that her pieces were featured on the runway in the 2016 Style Fashion Week LA with clothes by the designers Fuschia Couture and I-Am-Zoe.

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Christi Schimpke of CRASH Jewelry

Please introduce yourself. Tell us about your background and how you’ve got to where you are today.

My professional background is/was in art history. I have my masters in Italian Renaissance art and worked at the Getty Museum and UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). I took a metal fabrication/metal smithing class a few years back and fell madly in love with the entire creative process. I had already left UCLA because I was unhappy and for the first time in my life I felt passionate about something.

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Christi in her husband’s automobile collision repair shop where her studio is based

I started a more traditional jewellery business originally (called Minabea after my grandmother) and moved my studio into my husband’s automobile collision repair shop (Beverly Coachcraft) in LA. While working on silver smithing, I hit upon the idea to work with the cast-off sheet metal from the parts that were being replaced on these new, luxury cars. It started as an idea and I had to create a process which has developed into a much better process now (four years later). I stopped doing Minabea and am now focusing solely on CRASH Jewellery.

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Bentley Arnage Limousine Cuff

When and why did you begin exploring with old car parts with the idea to upcycle them into jewellery?

There are no ‘old’ parts. These are all late-model (new) cars with original factory paint. This is an important distinction because I cannot work with any metal that has been repainted and I only have access to new cars since that is what we take in.

I began CRASH during a period when metal prices were sky rocketing and wondered if I could make jewellery from car metal and aluminium metal.

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Lamborghini Cuffs

 

 What challenges, if any, did you face along the way?

The physicality of the job is difficult in that I am bending car metal all day – cutting it, sanding, drilling, shaping etc. Also, the process and product keeps evolving. In the beginning I had no idea how the paint would behave if I cut or bent the car metal and I had to figure out a way to keep the paint intact. Other challenges have been trying to explain that the jewellery is actually from a car part!

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360 Ferrari Modena Stud Earrings

Can you share a bit about the creative process?

I usually just start making things, rarely do I sketch designs out or think them through. I see the car metal and the paint and try to associate it with the car it came from and often designs grow from that. Mostly I observe life around me, mostly industrial and urban life, and that inspires me. I usually make a prototype, wear it, and work out any kinks that may arise before I replicate. I tend to make a lot of one-of-a-kind designs that are often difficult to replicate.

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Audi Bangles

Tell us about the importance of upcycling and sustainability for you in both your work and personal life?

This is very important to me. I try to use as much of the cast off car metal as I can. I save the scraps to use on other projects. I reuse packaging from the parts department and anything else I can think of. I hate that we are such a throw-away society and it sickens me to see the amount of waste that we humans create. I try to also practice sustainability in my personal life but I can do always do better.

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Versatile Arc Earrings

Who or what are some of your influences eg other makers and creatives?

Elon Musk (South African-born) billionaire entrepreneur, engineer and inventor), Zaha Hadid (Iraqi-born British architect), Alexandra Mor (New York-based jewellery designer).

What’s one thing other people may not know about you? I believe in justice.

It’s not very cool, but I really like … Playing Yahtzee.

Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?

Yes, currently! Who’d have thought I would go from an office environment to an auto body garage. Who’d have thought I would feel more at home in work boots and getting my hands dirty.

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Cufflinks made from a Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale ‘rosso scuderia’ and a white Ferrari 458

Thanks so much, Christi!

You can find CRASH Jewelry here, on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Father’s Day Gift Ideas

It’s Father’s Day Down Under on Sunday September 3, so we thought we’d compile some gifts ideas to turn Father’s Day on it’s head. And if it isn’t Father’s Day in your part of the world, maybe this will inspire you to buy something unique for the men in your life – for their birthday or for Christmas.

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From top left to right: The Standard Apron from Jeanbag, handmade from recycled denim jeans; Kappa Wood Watch made from 100% natural wood and non-toxic materials by Panache Living; The Knife Block crafted by Tasmanian designer Duncan Meerding; Drew the Table Lamp in black by clever designers Michael and George.

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From top left to right: Upcycled Cork Rubber Toilet Bag from Ecoupcycle Studio on Etsy; Bacon Wallet for bringing home the bacon from Third Drawer Down; Rap Lyrics Fortune Cookies by Fortune Cookie Flows; Rounded Base Bar Whiskey Glasses from Cool Hunting.

Happy shopping!

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