In early September, two Companions, Tony and Adrian, spent a couple of days at the Emmaus Communities in London (East Lambeth) and Brighton which are leading the field in the UK Emmaus Movement in creative recycling.
“Shabby chic” is the name of the game: taking items of low value and working on them – sanding, stripping, painting, distressing – to turn them into attractive pieces of furniture that people will want to buy.
The beauty of shabby chic is that it requires very little in the way of resources. All our furniture is donated, and several organisations will supply free paint to charities. Tony and Adrian were very impressed to see what interesting things South Lambeth were producing with far more limited woodworking equipment than we have here in Bristol. “The main resource needed is ideas! You are only limited by your imagination” says Tony – as is evidenced by the fact that one Companion is currently making a stool out of pencils!
Where value cannot be added to items in their original form, the challenge is to find a new use for them. Our business generates a great deal of very good timber, for example from broken wardrobes and beds, which would normally go to landfill. Tony and Adrian are passionate about turning junk into useful and beautiful objects, and are creating a number of test pieces, blanket boxes and toy boxes (with Christmas in mind), to find out what works and what will sell. They are also experimenting with wrought iron work, using old standard lamp bases as pedestals for attractive planters. They hope to produce popular items and develop production lines and processes which are simple enough for new Companions to learn easily – although there will always be room for that spark of imagination too!
Do drop in to one of our shops or have a look at our website and see how Tony and Adrian’s ideas and products are developing. They would very much value your comments and suggestions.