Monthly Archives: August 2010

The real deal…

I feel it’s time to put in context all the pretty photos and projects we have been showcasing with some images from the salvaging underworld. Unearthing the ultimate vintage find depends on one’s eye for potential and possibility, in particular when you are faced with this as your starting point…

However once you forge ahead with vision, bravery and a pair of gloves, your beloved wreck is birthed from its hiding place. The journey from there involves a 5 minute meditative reflection on ‘What could this become?’, considering both its innate purpose, but also its potential for a new life of other-ness.

Allow me to offer a few little tips here for tackling such a mammoth mess. Firstly, go with a faithful friend (but be sad when she finds pastures new). Two pairs of eyes roving the landscape helps to ward off inspirational lapses. Secondly, take your time and savour the moment of creativity. Do examine things carefully for un-workable flaws. Conversely, faulty goods are rich pickings for recreating and reconditioning, so it helps to have a broad view of what can be achieved with each item. If you find yourself in a true junk yard, you will have to get your hands dirty and dig around for your treasures, so leave the Jimmy Choos at home.

Check out the latest spoils from my regular junk yard expedition. Originally a wheely shopping basket for an old granny, complete with old granny’s walking stick, this has become a wonderfully useful garden caddy for collecting up leaves and other waste headed for the compost bin. The plate and candle-holder will be added to existing collections, and the lidless breadbin is destined to be a plant pot. Job-lot for £4. Happy days!

Whilst the skates were tempting indeed, one does need to observe some limits!



Filed under junk yards

Memoires of a Chaise

The Salvage Sisters are delighted to introduce the first in our series of guest bloggers. This one comes from our talented and fabulous cousin Brona – salvager, scientist and musician extraordinaire. Check out her website here. And more photos, here.

When I was five I wanted to be an actress. That’s me posing on the red
velvet chaise longue, draped in mum’s fox furs.

Brona on Chaise, Forestbrook

Now, 30 years on I’ve not quite realised the ambition, but I am the proud
owner of a Victorian chaise longue and I’m considerably better practised
in the art of posing.

Brona on Chaise 2

My desire to purchase my own chaise must have sprung from this childhood
memory. So I’m rather tickled to consider that my recliner, at some point
in its history, sat patiently in wait for a corseted Victorian lady lest
she faint from shortness of breath when ascending the stairs. Customarily
fainting couches were installed at the top of every flight in suitably
well-appointed houses.

Salvaging an antique is not only a chance to delve into the history of
furniture, but a way of recycling and preserving. This is my debut.
Inspired by that childhood moment, I scoured ebay for viable options. I
was poised to purchase a repro for about £200, when my dear friend and
advisor, Flo Keef (antique furniture restoration expert) remarked “Oh, you
don’t want to buy one of those!”

Without further ado I heeded her advice and purchased an old Victorian
chaise for £70. ‘Needs some repair work’ said the posting. This was some
understatement as I was to discover on pick-up. The entire
three-dimensional structure of the seat had collapsed. And with it my
immediate chances of comfortably draping myself across it.

I resolved to go through with the purchase and pursue reupholstery
options.  A colleague of Flo’s offered to help out for a very reasonable
price. To reconstruct the seat and recover, she charged £300. I paid £60
to have the woodwork (American maple) stripped and waxed; £50 for the
fabric (from Fabric’s Galore) and £20 for a matching braid (from VV

Here are some in progress perspectives:
Chaise underneath
Chaise in progress

Although I ended up paying a little bit more than I’d initially bargained
on, I’m utterly thrilled with my new chaise and will treasure it for many
years to come.

Brona on Chaise 3


Filed under guest

Our moment of fame

The salvage sisters were live on The Saturday Morning Show in July, and for those unlucky people who were otherwise engaged, here’s a recording. Enjoy!

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Filed under media, the sisters

Glean Baby!

[sal-vij] Glean, Recover, Redeem, Regain, Restore, Retrieve.. ah, the synonyms for Salvage make me reckon we could all do with some ‘Salvaging’ at times!

My little bird as she’s known is now a long lived one year old.. and has definitely brought some great ‘Gleaning’ challenges! With the unbelievable turnover of things a baby ‘needs’, the waste factor is maximum. So to make some dent in the one million tonnes of unwanted clothes  us Brits alone will throw out this year, I have found a few other ways to dress her up with an environmental and money saving incentive, aah.

My favourite resource is a great initiative in Belfast called ‘Weecycle’, a ‘recycling boutique’ where I have made some great ‘designer’ finds for the little model, and also unloaded myself of somesuch things in exchange for the next must-have.


Coat MiniATure

Embroidered shirt Monsoon

Car-boot sales can be an great source of supplies if you are lucky enough to find a like minded seller. I adore this little collection of hot pants previously loved by a little diva, including gold ‘Kylie’ ones, along with a cute wooden toddling truck I found at St Donard’s church car boot sale at the top of Bloomfield Avenue.

Hot pants Gap, Next

Early Learning Truck

If you are lucky enough to have devoted, skilled adorees for your little one, home knits are the cutest thing out, or even better hone those skills yourself.. havent managed that yet  myself! Found these little handmade bandana bibs at St. Georges market, and have been inspired to make some, but so far have just cheated with a paisley handkerchief! Love the litle bandit look.

Handmade Cardy, Paisley Handkerchief

Handknit cardy, bandana bib buzzabee

Family treasure is a great way to bring a little sentimental nostalgia. I was delighted to find this little Liberty print dress which I wore as a child, and had survived on a teddy hiding in my room all these years.

Liberty print dress

Charity shops are a little more work with regular devotion required to rifle through their rails to find the real treats. This isn’t always compatible with an impatient little tike in a bulky pram, but I’m very lucky to have a devoted Salvage Auntie who has found some amazing little numbers.

Dungarees Osh Kosh B'gosh

Vintage Dress

Top John Lewis Baby, Skinny jeans Next.

A fantastic monthly belfast event The Fashion Souk is a great way to shop, it promotes ethical consumerism and informed shopping, and even provides a childrens programme to give you

Top and Skirt Jasper Conran Debenhams

some hands free browsing time.. fab! It has fashion for everyone and I got this little matching outfit there lately. And if it’s time to do some clearing out, you can run your own stall there at the ‘Humble Jumble’!

For more inspiration, sourcing, and ideas for own wardrobe check out Belfast Council’s tips and The Green Guide


Filed under Uncategorized

Charity Shop Stop

Allow me to convince you that high street shopping is an unnecessary endurance we can all avoid. There are many great charity shops in Edinburgh, and i am a regular attendee in search of a handy bargain. Before i showcase my very latest wares, may i offer a few pointers to make your charity shopping experience truly rich and bountiful. First, it is not a matter of drawing up a list of requirements and going out to find them – that’s what Princes St is for. You have to take what’s on offer, and therefore i find having an idea over the longer term of what your wardrobe requires is helpful. As a rule, i never buy anything from Primark or a supermarket – if you are buying 2nd hand it needs to be good quality, plus you could get it close to the same price new in Primark anyway. Look out for the truly one-off items, and don’t be put off if canny shops are charging, say, £30 for a coat. Gems and I recently saw a white cashmere tailored coat for that price, and didn’t buy it as it seemed a lot at the time. When we went back, it was gone. Which leads onto my next point, which is that the turnover in these shops is really high, together with frequent stock rotation within shop branches, so i would say its best to go with first instincts. I am considering setting myself a goal of only buying 2nd hand clothes for a period, say, 6 months, and see if a) i can do it b) observe the bank balance and c) whether i feel less or more consumerist as a result. Anyone wish to join me…??

1. Black Velvet skirt with detail £2, 2. Warehouse summer jacket £8, 3. White cotton top £3 with silk scarf £1, 4. Topshop floaty flowery top £4.50, 5. Paul Smith extra-cool polka dot boots £7, 6. Lacy leather kitten heels £6, 6. Pink cotton top £2 with silk scarf £1, Floral cowboy shirt £3.50


Filed under clothes, Uncategorized