Crafty types take trash, create treasures

The latest addition to Whitehorse's plethora of festive craft sales wants Yukoners to take items from the trash pile and put them under their Christmas trees.

The latest addition to Whitehorse’s plethora of festive craft sales wants Yukoners to take items from the trash pile and put them under their Christmas trees.

The Re:design craft fair this Saturday at the Old Fire Hall will feature more than 15 artisans who use repurposed items to create their wares.

It’s not just about creating zero waste, according to organizers Leslie Leong and Darren Holcombe. Products like these actually create “negative waste.”

“Zero waste is when you’re not throwing things away,” Leong said.

“But if you’re actually taking things out of the landfill, that’s actually negative waste, so it’s going back the other way.”

Leong and Holcombe are part of a subset of Yukon creators with an eye for what an item could become once it has outlived its original purpose.

The show’s offerings include carvings fashioned from old wooden gun stocks, and burned-out spark plugs turned into butterflies.

“And why not, instead of bringing it up the highway?” Holcombe asked.

Using repurposed material means gifts can be sustainable and ethical by preventing new material from having to be shipped north, Leong said.

“We have way too much stuff in our society already, so I just don’t like seeing us locally here making stuff out of new materials,” she said.

“We’ve got so many materials here that are useful and we just throw them away.”

In her Riverdale studio, Leong spends her time taking old computer bits and turning them into jewellery, or looking at a dented teapot from the thrift store and thinking, “Hey, that might make a good lamp.”

She’ll take broken furniture, replace the missing parts with metal pieces, and Frankenstein together “bionic” chairs.

“I don’t know why I think these things. When I say it out loud it’s kind of crazy,” she laughed.

Holcombe always has an eye out for salvageable wood and metals. “I guess I see potential. I see wasted potential,” he said.

Living out near Lake Laberge, Holcombe sees lots of pieces of wood washed up on shore. They’re relics from decades ago when an old dump used to bump up against McIntrye Creek and unwanted lumber would be discarded into the water, he said.

Time in the water means that when he gets his hands on the wood, “it’s sort of like ocean driftwood almost,” he said.

He’s used that grayed Lake Laberge wood for bird feeders, he said.

Among his other offerings this weekend are birdhouses created from recycled material.

The roofs are made from different tin scraps. Some of the perches are doorknobs.

He’s even “squirrel-proofed” them by placing a bicycle gear or pieces of tin around the outside of the entrance hole. That keeps the squirrels from chewing on it.

“If they don’t have a place to start, they don’t enlarge the hole,” he said.

After five years of organizing the 12 Days of Christmas fair for the Fireweed Community Market Society, Holcombe decided to take a break this year.

He hopes this fledgling event will inspire people to look at the potential in the items they are thinking of tossing out.

“I would like to have just a good turnout of people to come and see what potential can be realized from materials that are salvaged from your waste stream,” Holcombe said.

“Before you throw them out, you could have done something with them, or someone could have done something with them.”

Saturday’s sale starts at 11 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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