Reduce, Reuse & Recycle in the Studio

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle in the Studio

I grew up, the forth kid and only girl of five kids, in a really rural area of New York State, between Albany and the Massachusetts border. My Pop was a social studies teacher in the local high school. He also kept huge vegetable gardens and raised animals that we ate. Mom was busy with five kids. She also designed the house my parents built using lots of materials that were on the property (it's a stone house. My father gathered and split all the stones). She canned and froze the food we raised, made clothes, great food, and soap-long before it was in vogue to have handmade soap, and ran a small summer day camp on our property for about five years. Because there were seven of us living on one teacher's salary, our family had to be frugal. We always lived by the 3Rs before there was even an icon for them. The mindset to reduce, reuse and recycle, as well as the thinking that if you need something, figure out how to make it for yourself, though born of necessity in my family, was also born of an abiding concern for the earth its future. I've carried that concern into my adult life and into my business.
Growing up with four brothers has made it very easy for me
to feelcompletely at ease working with my male customers.
Above: My four brothers and me after climbing Mt. Greylock
in Massachusetts Summer, 2018

In regards to the raw materials that I use to make ties and suspenders, I use new, high quality materials. Except when I am converting a favorite necktie into a bow tie for a customer, all of my fabric is new, much of it is printed to order just for me, has been designed by me so anyone can order a tie or suspenders from it, or has been designed by me and then custom printed for a customer's special tie or suspenders. But in my studio space, in regards to the furniture and tools that I use when I'm making ties and suspenders, most of that I purchased used or even got for free.

When I look around my studio, I do see a few things which I purchased brand new for use in the studio: more than 25 years ago, I bought my cutting tables new and around the same time, I also purchased my heater. Since then, I've also bought a new iron, a few storage containers, my cutting tools, my modest television (which can be seen in the Studio Tour of my previous post) and a paper shredder. I am certain that I have overlooked some other things, but those are what comes to mind in a quick once over.

I have jacked up the height of my cutting table to a comfortable working level by placing the feet of the tables on empty paint cans. These cans provide the perfect amount of lift for me to work for long periods of time without hurting my back.

Cutting tables sitting on paint cans to raise
them to a comfortable working height.

I spend a lot of time working at my cutting tables and also standing at my ironing board. Once I discovered the paint can lift hack for my cutting tables, I applied it to my ironing board. Ahhhhh. My back has thanked me ever since.

Antique ironing board, left by previous tenants in my
college apartment more than 35 years ago, placed on
empty paint cansfor comfortable working height.

I bought my first-and my last-brand new sewing machine in 1990. I love to sew and have loved it ever since I started when I was about eight years old. When I sit and work at my sewing machine, I feel as I imagine a pianist feels sitting at her piano, at one with her instrument. I still use that 1990 machine, a Bernina 1230, as well as several that I have purchased second hand since buying the first. Unfortunately, Bernina no longer supports some of the parts needed to repair my vintage girls, so I keep on hand more machines than I need. I look for them on Craig's List, and I've started naming them after the women from whom I purchased them. In the last two years, I've added Linda and Sonja. 

This is my Swiss made Bernina 1230. This is the
machine thatI bought in 1990. These machines
run forever, like tractors. 

To make sewing at my machine even more comfortable, I place rectangular plastic erasers under the two back corners of the sewing machine so that the rear of the sewing bed is tipped up ever so slightly which makes sewing at my machine much easier on my body and eyes.

Erasers under the back of my sewing machine tilt the
sewing bed, allowing me better posture while I work.
They also dampen the sound of the machine
working on the table. 

I have other things in my studio which are reused or recycled items, like the filing cabinets under my cutting tables. If you look at the picture above of the cutting tables, you'll see some oak filing cabinets under the table. They house lots of patterns from my lifetime of sewing. I found those cabinets with a FREE sign on them on the side of the road one day when I was out for a run. And the stool below! I love this stool. It's legs are double braced as well as having heavy metal wire reinforcing them. It's really sturdy! It, too, was on someone's lawn with a FREE sign. I also love the wear patterns on the brace pieces. This  stool find was a real score.

The most recent addition to our RR&R family household has been another surprisingly happy discovery. In October of 2017, we bought a (used/pre-owned) 2012 Prius V which is the wagon version. We LOVE so many things about this car. I love the mileage it gets, and it turns out that I really like bluetooth for our used-but-new-to-us iPhone.

What are some things that you do in your life to reduce, reuse and recycle? Do you have a great curb side pick that makes you really happy? Please tell me about it!

For more than 25 years Lisa Eaton has been designing and making men's bow ties, suspenders and neckties from silk and cotton. She is the owner of the Maine based company