Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Save Green...
...By Going Green

For the first time in human history the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached 400 parts per million.  Global warming is a real thing and our consumption of fossil fuels is one of the main reasons this is happening. There seems to be an attitude these days that if a solution doesn't completely fix a problem, then it's not worth doing, but the fact of the matter is that most problems have multiple solutions and small steps add up to big journeys.

There are a lot of simple things we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint.  Today I am talking about one of my favorites, shopping at thrift stores. Balancing a full-time job with my art and writing is not easy, and I am not exactly rolling in dough. I have found thrift stores to be a great resource.

I have been pretty impressed by what people donate to these places.  Not only have I found some name brand clothing for pennies on the dollar (I am particularly fond of the Columbia rain jacket I got for $6.99), but I have outfitted my kitchen with some great appliances and cookware.

One day at a thrift store I happened to noticed a juicer that retails for around $100, priced at under $15. It looked complete and the motor ran when I tested it, so I decided to give it a try. As it turns out it was missing two pieces:  a tool to remove the filter assembly and the container to collect the waste pulp. The only piece I really needed was the tool to remove the filter (my mixing bowl, lined with a grocery bag collected the pulp just fine). The missing piece was under $10 (including shipping), so I was still ahead by more than $75.

Once I realized that I could order replacement parts fairly easily and cheaply, I started keeping my eyes out for other bargains.  I have a couple of really nice food processors now (I found two of one model, so now I have spare parts for even less than it costs to order replacements).

Not only can you find better quality items but you can often find vintage appliances that look way cooler and are built much better than their modern counterparts.  I have a couple of vintage blenders from the 1960s.  The motors are quieter (and probably better made) than the one in my more modern blender, and each one was well under $10. The best part is, the design for Oster blenders is virtually unchanged, so the gaskets, blades, and pitchers for their modern blenders fit my vintage beauties!

Lady Kenmore, my first vintage blender. 
Hint: Sears/Kenmore appliances are usually made
by name brand companies. I knew from the blade
assembly that this one was made by Oster.
(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

Lady Kenmore meets 'Lord Oster'.  Bonus: the pitcher from
my more modern Osterizer will work on either of these.
(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

My dining room table top I salvaged from a $6.99 coffee table I found at Goodwill (click here to see how I did it).  In my studio, I combined an old trellis with a clock I found at a thrift store to make a modern take on the classic grandfather clock (click here). I have also gotten quite a bit of lighting at thrift stores, see Affordable Lighting...With Just A Few Brushstrokes for more information.

(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved)

(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved)
(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved)

I've also gotten some great books and even found art supplies and items I can re-purpose in an art piece.  The three pieces featured in my post A Trio of Trees...What's New In The Studio were all done on surfaces that I bought at thrift stores.

(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I've even been able to increase my storage space in the studio thanks to thrift stores. Storage containers can get pretty pricey, but I was able to buy and retrofit a rack with bins for under $10. Get the full story at I Can Always Use More Storage Space....

(c)2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

The benefits of buying thrift are multifold. Not only are you keeping stuff out of the landfills, but most of these stores are either raising money for a charity or are owned by a small, independent business person.  Sometimes what you buy is better made than something you buy new. If you find something you like better, you can either re-donate or sell the the old item and still come out ahead of the game.

Obviously, shopping thrift is a bit different.  You can't 'order' exactly what you want, so it may take a few trips before you find what your looking for.  These items aren't new, so inspect them carefully for things like frayed cords and missing safety features.  Check the store's return policy. My local Goodwill stores, for example, have a 10 day window and will only give you store credit (no cash refunds).

No, buying a used item won't instantly reverse global warming, but it will help get us there and you will be keeping something out the landfill and helping to support a charity or local businessperson, and you might even find something much better than new.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

2013 Glenwood Avenue Art Fest...
...Only A Week Away!

Thankfully, art has been occupying a healthy portion of my time lately.  I am doing two art fairs this year and the first is only a week away!  The Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest is one of my favorite Chicago Street Fairs.  The Art Fest is easily accessible via the CTA Red Line (Morse Stop) and features three separate performance stages plus more than 100 artists and vendors. The Fest is August 17th and 18th and more info can be found here.

The week before is always hectic, finishing and touching up paintings. In addition to original paintings, I will also be offering photographs and cards, including photos featured in previous blog posts:  "I Didn't Find Any Eggs...But I Did Find This Gem!" and "The Baha'i Temple In Wilmette...An Architectural Treasure"

Art Deco Bowling Alley, Logan Square Neighborhood
(c)2013 Eric E. Paige

Baha'i Temple, Wilmette, Illinois
(c)2013 Eric E. Paige

I am rarely without my camera, so be sure to check here and my photography site for new additions.  My recent photo essay of Millennium Park can be found here.

Bridgeway Connecting Millenium Park to the 
Art Institute of Chicago (c)2013 Eric E. Paige
Lurie Garden, Millennium Park
(c)2013 Eric E. Paige

Well, it's back to work for me.  I have five paintings I am working on and hope to have them all completed in time for the Art Fest.

"Grove Series" in progress. (c)2013 Eric E. Paige

If you can't make this fair (or even if you can), I will also be exhibiting at The Edgewater Fall Art Fair on September 28th and 29th. Details here. You can also view my painting website.

Have a great day!