Repurposing and Upcycling Materials for Making

Resources gathered through the years without realising!

From Hope Calling project

My acts replenish balance

Longing for co-existence

Loving the planet


Karen Whiterod, Hope Calling Project

Green Earth Balance is about “living lightly”, making considered choices in using the Earth’s resources and being mindful of our environmental footprint. These are the materials chosen to make the Balanced-Earth planter mobiles.  They have their own stories as they had previous uses.  Some have been collected on walks, given by friends or were excess from another creative endeavour.  This is also about choices for energy suppliers and technology suppliers that contribute to Balanced-Earth.

Recycled spiral wires from discarded sketchbooks and notebooks
Spiralled wire

This spiralled wire held pages of sketchbooks and notebooks together.  A friend had a clear out and gave this wire to me.  It works really well with the nylon offcuts to make a vessel frame.  Double upcycling and repurposing!

Discarded fishing rope collected for weaving into vessel frame
Fishing rope

When walking on the Norfolk coast, finding rope from fishing is all too common.  I collect it, wash and dry it, then try to unpick the rope to make threads for weaving into frames for the vessels.

Printed nylon offcuts from Karen Whiterod nylon jewellery, inset nylon neckpiece
Nylon offcuts

I made jewellery from nylon through the 90s and still have off-cuts to re-use.

The frames made by upcycling nylon offcuts and spiralled wire can be seen in the shop

Plastic waste as CD discard used to make vessel frames
Unwanted CDs

The CDs come from various sources: local scrap store (usually library audio stories on CD), software CDs given by friends, no longer wanted and damaged.  I make frames for the vessels from these.  There are four different finishes to choose from on the CD frames.

Recycling newspapers to make paperpulp vessels
Paper pulp for vessels

Unwanted newspapers are torn by hand for the paper-pulp.  I’ve experimented with the ingredients in my pulp recipe and after three years, I know the vessels are really resilient .   Wax/oil is used for a microporous vessel.

Coastal erosion on the Norfolk coast provides sea sculpted brick, base for Balanced-Earth curlews
Sea-sculpted brick

Sea-sculpted brick are used for the bases of the single vessel forms.  I live in Norfolk and regularly walk on the east coast.  The erosion of the soft cliffs has caused landfalls, hence finding bricks on the beach.  I look for bricks which have been tumbled in the sea for long enough to soften the edges and create interesting shapes.

Repurposed aluminium used to make vessel frame in Balanced-Earth plant mobiles
Aluminium from tools

Through the 90s I made jewellery from nylon, then designed some lighting with  nylon.  The nylon was formed three-dimensionally by placing in aluminium formers, which I’d made.  I still have various thicknesses of  aluminium sheet remaining from that time, which I kept moving and storing as I felt certain that eventually I would find a use for it and so I have… hoarders unite!

Bee-wire comes from bee-hive super
Wire from bee-hive frames

Each spring the wire on the supers of beehives are removed and replaced.  The supers are the frames suspended inside the hive and holds honey.  A kind friend gives this wire to me to use to make the vessel frame – one of my favourites!

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is used to enable the balance element of the vessels in Balanced-Earth.  I buy this as a new material however the British Stainless Steel Association website states that that the recycled content of stainless steel is 60%, this together with improvements in manufacturing practice reduces the energy consumption, emissions and the carbon footprint of the producing mills.

Also I save every scrap of this material for recycling.

Oak wall-mounts

I source the  oak from the off-cuts bin of my local saw mill.


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I referred to Ethical Consumer to choose my desktop computer, which was purchased from Very PC.  My operating system is open-source Linux and I’ve found Learn Linux TV tutorials very helpful.