Thursday, April 5, 2012

Riding the Ride

You can talk the talk, or you can walk the walk. One Bower director is taking it further and riding the ride. John's pulled one bike together from various bike parts, loaded it up and is off on a Scrap Heap Challenge fundraising ride to Kosciusko to raise funds for Downs Syndrome NSW.
Check out his story below and consider donating funds to a great cause.

- Maaike

Dear Family, Friends & Bower
Off today from Sydney on the scrapheap challenge to Kosciusko to raise funds for Downs Syndrome NSW.
Should be a good laugh combined with gravel & mud. Lets hope the $1,000 scrapbike makes it there and back. Yesterday a fresh set of on road/off road tyres, finished making and fitting panniers frames, packed the tent & gear (now over 250 kg),  the test run went well. 3 months ago all new non-engine bearings,  6 months ago new electronic spark system. 93,000 km and still going strong apart from no neutral and occasionally missing a gear, but it is made from 2 $500 bikes and 26 years old - a bit of reuse, repair, bloody knuckles, sweat, oil .............. and Sharon's patience. 
We will meet up with 50 or so scrapheapers at Oberon travelling down to the snowy mountains where we'll meet another couple of hundred scrapheapers raising funds for Downs Syndrome NSW - already $50,000 has been raised (nearly as much as they get from the government). The outward route will be something like,149.512939&spn=3.565577,8.657227.  Haven't mapped the return route, will go with the flow, back in Sydney on Monday 9th. A much shorter ride this year, the outback was tough in 2011.

If you like to, you could donate through to Downs Sydrome NSW, thank you to those who already have.
have a great easter - I hope I do!

Farewell from Ted

In the past two years we've been delighted to work with Ted, his enthusiasm an community spirit have been greatly appreciated. You may or may not know Ted as the predominant voice behind our facebook and twitter musings during this time. While he will be missed we're chuffed he's found a job in an area that means so much to him.
- Maaike
Well after almost two years of Bower love it's time for me to turn the page onto a new chapter in my working life!  It's been an amazing experience being part of the Bower team and I will miss everyone dreadfully.  I walked into The Bower with a diverse background that had nothing to do with second hand furniture and I leave having learnt so much! Our customers are so varied and have taught me much about history, beauty and of course reuse!  Thank you!

I recently started studying Community Services as I have a passion for community and supporting marginalised groups and I want to be part of a people based solution to the oppressions so many of us experience.  So where am I heading?  I've been offered a job at ACON! Within their Anti Violence Project.  I'll be supporting folks who have experienced homophobic, transphobic, GLBT family and domestic violence.  I feel incredibly humbled to be joining this amazing project and team.

If you haven't heard of the great work ACON does then check out the website at ACON is NSW's and Australia's largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation.

The Anti Violence Project can be accessed via where you can find support if you are part of the GLBT community and have or are currently experiencing violence in your life! 

Thanks again to all the members and customers who have be part of my world for two years! May you continue to be blessed with amazing treasures at The Bower! 

Teddy xx 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

computer repairs

e-waste remains one of the biggest concerns for councils and public landfill.

As a centre for reuse we are limited to taking those electrical items which still function and hold value in the eyes of consumers. We have neither the space nor resources to strip electrical equipment for recycling, or to store it for  other organisations who will collect bulk containers for processing.

We cannot take the majority of computers, printers, scanners and accessories that are offered as donations, because no one is interested in REUSING them.

All of which sounds sort of negative. So we're constantly mulling over what we can do within our means to contribute to the solution.

Last week Warren, long time Bower volunteer and go to IT guy, approached us with a solution.
"What if I take on customers - fix their IT problems? I can upgrade hardware, fix software issues... And I could do it cheaply"

So what do you think? We want to trial this idea with your help. Warren and Ken have commandeered an aisle outside the electrical workshop, ready to meet with you and hear your IT woes.

If you have a computer problem and want Warren's help,
email us or phone us on 95686280

We'll see if we can help you keep your current IT equipment in action.
The first three customers will only pay what they think the service was worth.

Stay tuned....

Curb Collective Update

As our regular followers will know, last year nearly 20 students graduated from Reuse Repair Recycle Furniture - A partnership with TAFENSW Outreach and The Bower designed to teach skills to the local community.This year many of those students are continuing their study, workshopping ideas and business models to build a social enterprise that suits them. They also meet weekly to continue to hone their repair skills, working on a number of chairs and small foot stools in need of reuse and repair love.

Last week the group completed their first commission. Karen's chair was a street find - she saw the potential but didn't find the time to restore it herself (Sound familiar?!). Curb Collective also saw the potential for a contemporary new look for the piece and set to work stripping the yellow paint and upholstering the seat.
Although they bought fabric to complete the job, the group was keen to stick to The Bower's waste not ethos, and selected a panel of discontinued designer fabric from a remnant warehouse.

We couldn't be more excited to see what the group will come up with next, or how they will evolve, so stay tuned!

If you have a question, a query or a commission for Curb Collective send email to

- Maaike


David, our Artist in Residence if officially settled in and down to business! Over the next few months he will be sharing a little bit of his process and reuse love with us through the blog, and in person.

I love Obtainium.  Obtainium is anything that you can get your hands on cheap or even free, and Sydney's inner west has rich deposits everywhere.  It's a great material for making sculpture because it often suggests ideas that emerge directly from whatever happens to be in front of you.  Shuffle up a new combination of randomly selected parts and find a new idea.

Obtainium takes time to react.  This is my handy excuse for being off to a slow start these last couple of months, but it also happens to be true.  As part of my usual method, I tend to let collections of objects that 'might be useful one day' collect and stew in each others' juices for quite a while.  This habit has done nothing to earn me favor with my flatmates, so I'm very lucky to be the Bower's artist in residence right now.  Until about the middle of this year, I get to be surrounded by the kind of fascinating pile of stuff that I'd collect for myself if only it didn't get me in trouble at home.

I'm currently working on lamps, which are an ongoing obsession of mine.   There's something about lighting up an object that completely re-contextualizes it.  It's so simple it almost feels like cheating.  An ordinary light bulb can take a hatstand, a teapot and a stuffed mackerel and turn it into something that gives it's viewers a license to stare.  A reason to stop and contemplate the sculptural qualities of an unexpected combination.  There's something new in the whole that isn't inherent in any of the parts.  That's what interests me.  The emergent property.  The indefinable extra that I don't feel like I'm creating, but rather finding amongst the bits and pieces.

Of course, there is a element of work and routine to working like this.  Tedious cutting and grinding, gluing things together, and waiting for paint to dry.  During these times, I like to make little pieces to keep myself amused, like the ones pictured above.

I'm in the studio workshop and the Bower Sunday's and Mondays, so come on down and say Hi.