Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas is sustainable at The Bower!

On Saturday, we held a DIY Christmas gifts workshop in our Eco-Library. We made boxes, notebooks and luminaries; Staff had fun preparing lots of examples made out of reused postcards and different papers so that everybody could choose the perfect presents to make for their families and friends.

Thanks to Adam from Alfalfa House, who was the co-organiser of the event, we had one and a half page of advertisement in the Inner West Courier which was amazing, thank you a lot to our friends at Alfalfa House.

The workshop was supposed to last for two hours, but everybody had so much fun that we stayed for over an hour more, until the store closed and The Bower staff sadly had to go home, including Thuy, who gets special thanks for helping out and lending her binding machine.

It was great to see the participants being so creative: I explained the basics of every project at the beginning of the workshop, and everybody modified and improved them with their ideas.

A big thank you to all the participants! We had lots of fun here, and we hope your families and friends will enjoy their handmade presents!

Claire M

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DIY Gift making workshop

Christmas is a great time for all the people who love to receive and offer presents! But do you really want to buy your friends and family another pair of socks or a new novelties tie? We have the solution!

The Bower and Alfalfa House are organising a DIY Christmas gift workshop together this Saturday to help you offering more sustainable presents this year! Come to learn how to make boxes, notebooks and luminaries out of reused postcards, paper and thread. They will be great unique and handmade presents for everyone!

So don't forget: the workshop will be held at the Eco-Library of The Bower, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville, on Saturday, December 10th, 2-4pm. There will be a $5 donation for the material.

See you all there!

Back from the Finders Keepers market!

What a great week for Curb Collective! After the graduation night last Tuesday, we attended the prestigious Finders Keepers market, which happens twice a year in Sydney at Carriageworks, on Friday night and Saturday.

Maaike and Claire went early to the shed to prepare everything. A big THANKS to John Bartholomew who transported the furniture from Redfern to Carriageworks on Friday afternoon and the unsold furniture to The Bower on Saturday evening after the market! 

We had one of the biggest stalls there, which allowed us to display all our furniture, and we were situated just in front of the fashion room, so we were highly visible. 

A lot of people were interested both in our work and in joining the class, and the enthusiasm was palpable. We had a lot of questions about how the class had been set up, how we had found the furniture and the fabric, and a lot of customers asked if we we interested in restoring/repairing/reupholstering their furniture. By the way, we are! Send a mail to Maaike at with pictures of your furniture and explanations of what you want to be done to them, and we'll keep in touch!

If you saw a piece of furniture during the market but hesitated to buy it, come and have a look here at The Bower! Some furniture were not sold, and they are in our consignment area!

Don't forget to follow the activity of Curb Collective on facebook too by liking the page:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Graduation Night at Shed 107

Tuesday was a long day for Curb Collective! We rushed faster than ever to finish all our chairs in time for the graduation night on Tuesday evening and for the Finders Keepers market this weekend.

Sam and I sanded and painted two dining chairs on which we will put the butterfly cushions the group made last semester. You could feel our stress of not finishing on time, but we made it! Stuart and Mick finished another dining chair with the help of Maaike and Jeanette - one of the brightest of our collection: it's orange and red!

Miki and Dominique tried as hard as they could to finish the pair of yellow and pink chairs started at the Newtown festival, but unfortunately they would have needed more time as they refused to sacrifice quality to rapidity... You'll therefore be able to see them next term! They will be great as first pieces of the new collection!

Some students stayed after the class to set up everything for the Graduation Night. We were hugely proud and excited: our furniture looks so different when they are on platforms!

A big BRAVO to Maaike and Richard who created an amazing screen out of wooden doors found at The Bower, where they displayed pictures of the transformation of the furniture. This new way to raise awareness about reuse impressed everybody, and our only problem with it will be to prevent people from buying it at the market!

The Graduation Night was a great success. 5 different courses from TAFE Outreach graduated, among them our Shed neighbours WEAVE's construction and repair students who did an amazing job patching, fixing, organising and painting the shed and Hobo Gro who create vertical gardens in reused palettes, and, of course, Curb Collective!

And guess what? We already sold 5 pieces of furniture!!! So come as soon as you can to the Finders Keepers market on Friday and Saturday if you want to admire/buy our work, the furniture won't stay there for a long time!

 - Claire M -

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December e-news

An early treat for you all - the December Newsletter for your reading pleasure, before the silly season kicks in and you've no time to think!

We hope you'll try and make this Christmas a reuse affair on all fronts - Those of you in the market for furniture sized christmas presents should be sure to come along to Finders Keepers at Carriageworks this Friday night 6-10 or Saturday 10-5 and pick up a genuine Curb Collective refurbished wonder.

A quick reminder also that we will be closed 24th Dec - 2nd Jan inclusive so hold on to your donations till we get back please!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Home Stretch

With only 3 more classes before Curb collective graduate and show off their debut collection at Finders Keepers, there was no messing around this week!

Pete got stuck into a second coat of choc-walnut stain on the dining suite. Mark elected to start a brand new project, taking on the challenge of the 'mummy chairs' it took 4 hours for Mark, Sam and Sam to strip just one of these uglies back to basics. They won't be recogniseable when the group are finished with them though!

Jeanette and Jane chose a lovely red jaquard for an occasional chair - all Jeanette's research on upholstery is obviously paying off!

Fiona got a lesson in measuring and mitring timber from Cathy, using a length of old skirting board that provided just the right channel for her latest project - a perspex topped coffee table.

 Speaking of tables, This table was donated to The Bower with the top raw and unfinished. We took it to Curb Collective to see what they could do.

In between classes, Lesley tightened the legs and applied widths of walnut laminate to the top, she added a few coats of diluted timber stain to make the top match the legs and now it's ready for resale!

Finished with the table, Lesley joined Min and our newest collectee Tanh; applying the patchwork of fabric swatches to the plantation chair. The group learned how to cut templates on the fly, to fold, roll, niggle and tweak until the edges can be tidily tacked into place.

Next week we'll put the back on and our two big upholstery projects will be complete!

Miki and Claire were determined to finish their duck egg blue timber arm chair - but not at the expense of perfection! The pair worked very hard to match their stripes and make their final stitches invisible.

We stayed back for 20 minutes in the end, so determined were we to finish the chair!And voila!

 You can't appreciate the delicate blue/lemon stripe on the back of this chair from a photo - you'll have to come and see us at finders keepers. Here's a peek at other things you'll see if you stop by the Curb Collective stall on the 2nd or 3rd of December;

All proceeds from the sale of restored items will restock our shelves with paint, glue, laquer, needles and thread so we can keep flying the reuse flag in the city of Sydney.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Newtown Festival 2011

The sun was shining this Sunday for the 75,000 visitors of the Newtown festival!

Curbside Collective were there, right in the middle of the Local Vocal Village, easily visible thanks to the amazing tent built out of reused materials picked up at The Bower by John, our chairman of the Board: the structure was made out of palettes and the top out of an advertising banner which provided shade to everyone. A big thanks again from everybody, John!

Fiona and Emmanuel ran workshops during all day to show people what Curb Collective do at 107, seconded by Amanda, Cathy, Jeanette, Peter and Lesley who came to give them a hand at various stages throughout the day. We worked on an occasional chair collected weeks ago by The Bower and on a beautiful white rocking chair found by Fiona... on her way to the festival!
The Curbside Collective spirit has definitely gotten under her skin!

What's more, people were welcomed to bring their own pieces of furniture to learn one or two tricks on them. Many thanks to the lady who brought us 'thank you' chocolates, such a lovely surprise!

In front of the stall, John was building an impressive sculpture out of dozens of little bits of woods found in the backyard of The Bower, with the aim of building a huge arch for the ARC. Come to admire it, it's in front of The Bower at the moment!

It was a very busy day for each of us. We talked to a lot of people and were positively impressed by the number of signatureson our mailing-list  from people wanting to be kept in touch with the activities of Curbside Collective. If you forgot to write your name down, it's not too late! Just send an email to and we'll add you to it!

- Claire M

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fabric Fantasies - Week 12

Time is a funny thing. It feels like we're only just getting started, but we're already on the home stretch to exhibition. By the end of next week we should have most of our chairs finished.

Miki and Fiona are working on a 50's timber arm chair. Last week Miki found a lovely blue and lemon stripe she wanted to use, but there wasn't enough to cover the whole chair. We were fortunate to find some new duck egg blue linen to help our reuse fabric stretch the distance. It's hard to believe but this will be finished next week, Timber arms and all!

Speaking of timber, Sam and Jeanette got stuck into the choc-walnut stain, giving our ever-growing dining suite a brand new look. 5 of these chairs have Street banner seats ready to go, and a very similar looking pair have elegant neutral seats. We're waiting till that stain is totally dry before we put the seats in place though!

Min & Leslie started a sample swatch patchwork for the timber plantation chair. In their absence, Emmanuel chipped in, completing a third section of patchwork for the outer back of the chair. Next week this will all suddenly be finished too!

And finally, we attached and covered the backs of some chairs, an d learned about using hot-glue-guns (scary stuff around fine silks!) to apply decorative trim so the backs of our parisian triplets could be completed.

There are other projects in the pipe line - a small table that Leslie is going to laminate, a pair of steel table legs sprayed up and attached to a new (recycled) timber top, and a bedside unit or two - proving we can break the chair mold!!

Can't wait for next week?! Stop by The Newtown Festival and say hi to Curb Collective and The Bower This Sunday 10-4


Monday, November 7, 2011

Curb Collective Week 11

Now that we know we will participate both in the Newtown festival and in the Finders Keepers Market, it was high time for our group to find a name. After a lot of propositions, one finally stood up amongst the others as it reflects different aspects of who we are and that we do during the course : we are a group attached to the reuse of objects nobody wants anymore, transforming the trash into treasure... We are CURB COLLECTIVE!!

With this new name in mind and only two weeks before our first display at the Newtown Festival, we were faster than ever this week! We are trying to finish as many projects as possible, working in groups to be quicker: time is running out, we will sell our furniture in only 5 weeks!

Richard, Dominique and I worked on the beautiful French metal chairs. After dozens of tries with all the lovely fabric we have, we finally took the decision to have the seats brightly striped, and the backs covered with flowers and birds. It was a good time to remember what Maaike had taught us a few weeks ago about reupholstering with a striped fabric. Indeed, the stripes have to be perfectly parallel to the side of the seat and to be perfectly straight, which means you have to apply the same pressure on each side, or they can quickly become bumpy and wavy. And to finalise the chairs, we added an orange dust cover. Next and final step next week: to assemble everything!

Mark finished his black velvet chair: after the cushion he had made a couple of weeks ago, he added a lovely bow to its back this week with the shiny diamante studs we ordered from China. Now this chair is fully finished! If you love it, come to admire it next weekend a the Newtown festival!

Mikki and Stuart took care on a large chair: they put a mountain of flock on it before adding the dakron so that it would be very comfortable. We can't wait to know what fabric they will choose to give it its final look!

Jeannette and Michael went on with the armchair they started two weeks ago: they put linseed oil and re-webbed it. It is now completely unrecognisable when you compare it to the poor armchair The Bower received as a donation months ago!

Do you remember the set of 4 red stools we finished a month ago? Min put linseed oil on it, with the project to have a set of two stools completely different to the four first ones: these two will be more classical and more sober, fitting in any house!

We are sure that new amazing furniture will be created in the short period of time before the festival and the market! And it's absolutely wonderful to be a part of it!

- Claire M