A Malt Sack Journey

Upcycling is such an important part of my life, both for Maker’s Meadow as a shop and within my home life. ‘Going green’ is a journey for me that will continue for the rest of my life and it makes me so happy to be able to reuse and remake items for another use. Today i will show you the journey of the malt sacks i use to create our shop items from origin to product, including a little bit of info on malt and brewing. I use any waste materials the Geeves brewery supply me with and any new item always brings on a spur of inspiration and imagination as to what i could use it for.malt bags

As i have said the malt sacks i use come from our local brewery but before that they come from Fawcett & sons Maltsters, in Castleford, West Yorkshire. A maltster prepares the grains/malt for brewing, they do this by first soaking the grains and then drying them out using hot air, this changes starch in the grain in to sugars which in the brewing process will be turned into alcohol. The grains are then packed into sacks and delivered to the brewerymashing in

When brewing a mixture of grains are used to give different characteristics to the beer. The grains are added to what looks like a giant pot called a mash tun, they are slowly added to it along with very hot water, this is called mashing in. They are left in there for an hour+ till the sugars are extracted into the water (now called liquor) and this is transferred to the next part of the brewing process.Once the mashtun is empty of liquor and the grains have been washed to get out the remaining sugars, the malt is put back in to sacks. Our brewery gives these sacks to a local farming college for composting and to a local venison farmer who feeds his deer with it, making sure there is nothing going to the landfill. They then collect the malt sacks and give them to me at Maker’s Meadow, reducing their waste further.

malt in bag

The first step before making a product is the worse and that is cleaning it.Soapy hot water and alot of elbow grease generally does the job. I then cut out pattern pieces from the sacking, using it just like i would a piece of material, as well as any other fabric pieces i need for the design. I then construct the product using mainly my sewing and overlocking machine, as well as some glue and hand stitching. Each product can be completely different, depending on the sacking design position, color and any warping so each piece is unique.

sew sew sewing

I then photography each product and list my items on Etsy or Folksy. Once a customer orders an item i package it in recycled brown packing paper , sewing together the edges after inserting my business cards, a few freebies and special offers. I then trot down to the post office and send it off, happy that some one has brought from me a handmade and eco friendly product. Its not just malt sacks that i reuse though, i also use the packets that their hops come in for my cool bags, plastic wrap for packaging, and i get oodles of string which i will be using i a new project ( i’ll keep you posted). If you want to know more about brewing check out CAMRA for a guide and to see the rest of our products check out our Etsy or Folksy shops.

green geeves

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X xxx

15 Uses: Inked Out Pens & Broken Pencils

This week is another everyday item which we all have but never recycle because there isn’t the facilities. I am the very guilty party of the ‘pen doesn’t work so put it back in the pot not in the bin’. This most annoying habit i find is actually shared by almost everyone i know in Britain. Whether at home or work we continually knowingly put back inked out pens and blunt, small, broken pencils ….maybe our brain is saying we can’t recycle them so we need to keep them to upcycle…well it’s a nice thought. So here is 15 ways to finally get rid of those broken, old and inked out pens and pencils.

5 Arty uses

1. I’ve seen alot of these melted crayon art pieces and my favourites have got to be the rainbow coloured ones. Great for using up those little broken bits of crayon and all you need is a blank canvas, a black marker for detail and a hair dryer.

2. Create tiny pieces of art on the end of a pencil, a lot of patience needed for this one

3. This would probable be more wasteful then useful unless you found just broken pencils, might take a long time, but if you want to why not make a life size model of yourself. Can definitely see this in a garden to scare away burglers.

4. A bit too artsy fartsy fr my tastes but you could use an old pen casing to make a vase for a single rose. Might look quite good in an office,  very modern.

5. A bit of a sparse tree in this example but change the shape a little, add decorations and you’ve got an upcycled Christmas tree ready for the festivities.

5 fun and crafty ideas

1. Use a tiny old pencil and an old washer to make a spinning sketch-a-graph and let the kids go wild and make lots of pretty patterns

2. If you’ve still got crayons left over from your melting art, melt them again in cupcake trays/mould to create new rainbow crayons for rainy days in.

3. Dried out felt tip pens have a surprising amount of ink still left in them, soak over night in half a cup of water to release the ink. You now have ink to play with whether for painting or dyeing, but if your dyeing clothes make sure to wash separately as not sure of how much they would run. Any one done this experiment before? any ideas for a fixing agent?

4. Use old pens casings to create upcycled crochet hooks,  simply glue in place, dry and away you go on a crocheting adventure.

5. Use pen lids and casing to make a colourful skipping rope. Grab some cord and thread on as many pieces as you need. Most pens have bottoms which pop off, so use a thinner pen or metal skewer to push them off if stuck, but watch  your fingers.

5 fashion and home ideas

1. Metal pen tips can add a modern touch to some homemade earrings. Earring making sets are easy to find online or in craft stores and easy to make,.

2. Cut pencils with studded backs make another quirky earring set. If you don’t want to make your own though there are many for sale on Etsy and Folksy

3. Use inked out ballpoint pens to make a cool lamp shade, great decoration for an office. Use a cheap lampshade, cut off all but a top band. Thread matching cotton through the shade, loop and knot, then hang your  ball point pens on the loops

4. Pierce a plastic bottle with lots of pen ends, tips pointing outwards, attach a hose to the bottle neck and you’ve got a home made sprinkler for the garden.

5. More cut pencil jewellery: necklaces and broaches. Really colourful and fun. Use two complementary colours for a more grown up look.

So there you go 15 uses for more rubbish around the home, definitely want to try make some of the jewellery. Any other trash you want some ideas for, just leave a note in the comments and i’ll find 15 uses for it…or at least do my best.


X xxx