Friday, March 27, 2015

Clever ideas sought for invention/upcycling contest

By Sally Parker

Five stores, the Davis Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club Yolano Group and Cool Davis are joining the Square Tomatoes Crafts Fair in sponsoring an Invention and Upcycling Contest. It will be held Sunday, June 1, in Central Park for a $50 prize.

All of the sponsoring stores — Aggie Reuse, Hibbert Lumber, Common Grounds, SPCA Thrift Store and Boheme Hip Used Clothing — have rule sheets available and a notebook with upcycling ideas.

Why have so many stores and nonprofits sponsored the contest? Because an invention and upcycling contest is an idea whose time has come.

The invention part of the contest honors Davis creators. The right invention, like professor Andy Frank’s hybrid-electric car, can change the world. So far, Steven Inness, Peter Wagner and Citrus Circuits, Davis’ world-class robotics team, have entered the contest as inventors. Innovators in 3D printing are welcome to display their designs.

Upcycling is a form of invention available to anyone. Upcycling saves resources, reduces the waste stream and, best yet, it’s downright fun! Other means of saving resources involve a certain amount hard choices and self-sacrifice, but upcycling is more like a treasure hunt.

Upcycling means finding a new use for a product headed to the landfill. It means installing a shelf in a beautiful dresser that is missing a drawer. It means saving computer circuit boards from e-trash and cutting these surprisingly attractive pieces into jewelry. It means finding a new way to restyle a T-shirt.

The June 1 fair will have a display of contest entries and an idea board with images of common items that can be reused. Examples of upcycling can be found online at on the boards “Upcycled,” “Refashioned” and “Invention & Upcycling Contest.” People who want to enter the fair can find instructions at any of the sponsoring stores or online at

Along with a display of contest entries, the fair will have an Inventors’ Café with comfy chairs next to the food and coffee booth. Fair managers are organizing a “A Rhapsody in Redo” where fearless furniture wizards take second-hand to the outer limits. The Scissors Wizards Clothing Clinic will be at the fair with sewing tools, second-hand clothes and advice. The wizards will restyle clothing and show visitors how to refashion what’s too small, too big, partly ripped or downright boring.

People new to upcycling can find an “Upcycling Idea Book” at Hibbert Lumber with images of what can be done to transform old items into furniture. Few people know that a suitcase with four legs attached can become a tea table with storage space, or it can be stuffed with pillows and made into a dog bed.

Filing cabinets, the curse of the waste stream, can be restyled into anything from boudoir to sports-and-den. With spray paint, Modge Podge and comic book covers applied to the drawer fronts, a filing cabinet can be the pride of the den. A dresser can be converted into rabbit hutch, book shelves or a bench with storage space.

Drawers from dressers damaged beyond repair are still usable. Old drawers can be used as bins for raised-bed gardening.

Upcycling includes restyling clothes. With the right restyling, men’s shirts can have more lives than a wily tomcat. Boheme Hip Used Clothing has a photo called “Add Africa.” A large man’s shirt can be transformed into an African tunic by removing the collar and adding a contrasting yoke and cuffs. A suit coat or cardigan can be transformed into a folk jacket by cutting out the collar and adding a strip of fabric around the neck, front and cuffs.

Boheme, SPCA Thrift and Aggie Reuse have ideas books showing 12 ways to restyle a T-shirt. The Idea Book at Common Grounds shows ways of upcycling both furniture and clothing.

Acres of landfill space are sacrificed to clothes dumped for being boring, badly styled or unflattering. Trim, lace, contrasting fabric and new buttons can save the lives of many of fashion failures. Clothing with styling that is too terminal to be saved by major surgery, prayer or even a queer eye can be transformed into stuffed animals, purses or a braided rug. The Scissors Wizards at the June 1 fair will help visitors with ideas.

Beyond clothes and furniture, almost anything can be upcycled, repurposed, refashioned or redone. Upcyclers have cut the tops and bottoms from aluminum soda cans, pressed a design into the metal, and refolded the sheet metal into functional decorative boxes. Jewelers take broken china dishes and cut these into pieces used for jewelry.

Styrofoam fast-food containers, the nightmare of the landfill, can be reused as block printing sheets. Press a pattern into the foam with a ball-point pen, roll ink across the foam, and press this into a piece of paper.

What is the ultimate coup in upcycling? Upcycle vegetable scraps. The base of a celery stalk or romaine lettuce can be regrown into more food. The ultimate in upcycling is diverting a dresser drawer from the landfill for use as a planter to grow new vegetables from old kitchen scraps.

Reuse is always there waiting to be discovered. Check out the website or, better yet, bring an entirely new idea to the Invention and Upcycling Contest.

— Sally Parker is a Davis resident and founder of the monthly Square Tomatoes Crafts Fair.



Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    New Paso Fino design trims lots

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Anti-gay initiative puts AG in a bind

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    County supervisors consider options for historic courthouse

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Two found dead of apparent shooting in West Davis home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Co-pilot may have hidden illness, German prosecutors say

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Senate’s Harry Reid announces he won’t seek re-election

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Woodland police warn of kidnapping phone scam

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Lawyer disputes police’s hoax claim in California kidnapping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Davis Flower Arrangers meet Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sign up for Camp Shakespeare

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Empower Yolo offers peer counselor training

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Sing along on April Fool’s Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    State loosens sex offender residency restrictions

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Three nabbed in counterfeiting probe

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A6



    Can he get life back on track?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Be aware and be afraid

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

    Blame Reid for impasse

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

    Practice cancer prevention each day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Turnabout is fair play

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7



    UCD men edge Hawaii on the court

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD’s Hawkins, Harris to shoot at Final Four

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Home sweet home: Aggie women win a tennis match

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Devil boys grind out a net win at Franklin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    DHS baseballers fall to Vintage in eight innings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    DYSA roundup: Recent youth softball games feature big hitting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Sacramento get its second straight win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Sharks get a key win over Detroit

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery





    UCD Student Fashion Association presents charity fashion show

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    ‘Get Hard’ comes across as rather limp

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Preview Art Studio Tour participants’ work at The Artery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Smokey Brights to perform at Sophia’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    ‘Deserted Destinations’ is April exhibit at Gallery 625

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Monticello announces April live-music shows

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Leonardo Tuchman’s work shows at UC Davis Craft Center Gallery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    Sacramento Youth Symphony holding open auditions

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9



    Camry Hybrid takes a step forward

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3



    Celebrate Rusty Jordan’s Life

    By Creator | From Page: A4



    Comics: Friday, March 27, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B4