Ever heard of scrap craft? According to gardening guru & Guardian columnist, Alys Fowler, in her superbly sensible book, The Thrifty Gardener, it's when you reuse unwanted items or recycle them into something useful. It starts with ....I wonder if.......and the result is often surprisingly cool. In my case, a bug hotel we made from a 1950s tea chest rescued from a neighbour's skip filled with some broken Edwardian edging tiles, a trio of chipped terracotta plant pots and wood salvaged from a trellis found rotting on the wood pile. Alys describes it as a way to personalise your own environment without it costing the earth, an independent cultural ethos far removed from our commercially driven world.
When antisocial scumbags decide to dump a load of crap over our fence, rather than send a whingeing tweet to the council's overstretched refuse department we recycled the trash into something useful, wooden pallets became raised veg beds and a rusting drum from a washing machine filled with forget-me-nots to make a groovy space-age planter. The Victorian chimney pots I dug from the undergrowth and a 1950s enamel sanitary towel display rack also proved perfect for our plants.
The tacky 1950s glazed Formica cabinet (below) bought for a few quid from a charity shop makes an ideal cold frame, somewhere to start off our seedlings and protect them from the frost and any predators.
Alys says that by being practical and using our own set of skills we can make our world around us, rather than buying into someone else's bland version. You start to make stuff that suits your home and the way you actually live and, instead of impersonal elegance or, worse still, the mass ugliness of manufactured things, you get something that has a little bit of the spirit and personality of the owner. When you grow your own vegetables or recycle your kitchen waste in a bin you made, you are taking control, rewarding yourself rather than waiting for somebody else to do so. You are transforming your world by your own rules and, by expressing your life creatively, the unexpected thrives.
But you don't need a garden to practice scrap craft. If you're a second-hand shopper you're already doing it, recycling other people's cast-offs and combining them with clothes you already own to create an outfit unique to you. Don't you just love finding something pretty in a charity shop, standing in front of your wardrobe and wondering to yourself... what this will look like if I try it with that? Like this TopShop cropped blouse I found last week, bought for no other reason than it was cheap and cheerful. Little did I know that when I threw open the wardrobe doors it would be the perfect match with the Swagger maxi I made myself from a 1960s curtain back in March.
More of her advice for a great garden is something than can equally be applied to your wardrobe and the key is love. The most beautiful, joyous spaces are those created by people who made & tended them and truly loved them. She says that doing your own thing, passionately, wins out. If what makes your heart sing isn't anyone else's cup of tea then don't let it put you off, embrace what you love and go for it unabashedly.
Being fashionable, she says, is risky. Fashion is all about selling magazines, so what's "in" one year is virtually guaranteed to be "out" the next. Alys says you should do your own thing, be a little daring, and be inspired. Confidence and originality will win out in the long run.
...but I'm sure I don't need to tell you that, you know that already, don't you? As my fabulous friend Goody says Wear it if you like it and fuck anyone that doesn't.
|WEARING: 1970s corded cotton maxi dress & 1980s Chinese style long-line waistcoat with one of a pair of curtain tie-backs worn as a necklace (all charity shopped this week)|
No fairs this weekend! What on earth shall we do with ourselves?
See you on the other side.
See you on the other side.