I have an Ikea ottoman which is essentially as old as my kids. It’s from the time right after my twins were born, when I was as energetic as a hibernating bear, and as grumpy too – primarily because I had given up on vital things essential to life – rest and coffee. My kids, bless their hearts, slept like babies – and I mean that literally, not in the clichéd way i.e. they woke up every hour, and hence so did I.
That’s when I made the trip to Ikea and the Alseda stool arrived home. I needed it to put up my feet for those precious moments when I could sit back and relax. Soon enough, it became my favourite piece of balcony furniture. The woven banana fibre felt soothing under my feet. It stayed cool in the sun, dried fast in the rain, and never gave up on sturdiness. As the kids grew, they used the ottoman as a table, then a chair, and when Secondsguru began, I used it as a backdrop when I photographed upcycled craft works.
The piece was so versatile, so useful – so loved – that when the rattan weave started blackening, I simply ignored it. I didn’t have the heart to throw it. But how long can one keep a slowly-but-surely rotting stool?
Luckily for me, that’s when I met Adeline. Adel is the co-founder of Taikensonzai and a yarn maestro. The first time I met her, (as always!) she was wearing her trademark wrist-cuff – a bright, crocheted, multi-coloured, thick band of yarn; as soon as I spied it, I knew the solution to my ottoman problem.
It took very little pleading to convince Adel to collaborate with Secondsguru on this project. Like us, she is strong believer in eco-consumption. An eco-friendly lifestyle means buying less and consuming better. Objects are not living things – but they too have narratives, they deserve careful use… and they should be used as long as possible, so that landfilling or even recycling can be a delayed.
This #DrabToFab project is our way of embracing conscious consumption – in a fun and creatively satisfying way. Adel’s weave has transformed and renewed the old stool, allowing me to enjoy the ottoman for a few more years (at least!), and keep me from buying something new to fill up the blank space. And guess what – all that beautiful textile on the stool – it was once fashion waste!!
Step 1: Inspection
Our first course of action, even before we began, was to inspect the stool to check if it was worthy of saving in the first place. We could see black stains on the exterior; was the interior still safe? Was the frame still sturdy? We needed surgery to get the answer!
So we got some pen-knives and scissors, set ourselves to sit on an old bedsheet, and got to cutting. It wasn’t long before we cut through the rattan and got to the frame. Some parts were rusty, a few joints had separated, and we could see some segments misshapen. But nothing so bad that we had to give up – after all, no sharp edges that could be a safety hazard, and the metal frame was still strong! Score: Anuja 1: Landfill 0 !
Step 2: Prepping
Now that we had identified the two weaknesses of the frame we looked of ways to fix them. First, the seperated joints – sadly, we did not have access to a welding machine to manage the, but we reconciled ourselves as the frame was still strong and shapely. Second rust management – which was important as we did not want the rust to stain the weave that would later come up. I headed to Self-Fix and found a solution in Rustoleum range of products. Their “Rust tripper” is a corrosive that helps scrub the rust off, so the metal can be repainted and saved from further erosion.
Step 2: Crochet!
This is where the expert comes in, or as Adel insists, even a beginner! She chose a basic crochet pattern, and spiraled it out. You can see her spin her magic here (and you can also see her awesome trademark cuff):
As the circle progressed, she kept changing colours, using an intuitive palette. If you like the colours and the yarn – check out Wool and the Gang – all this yarn is created from repurposed fashion waste! The company works with fashion industries to interrupt woolen waste that is destined for the landfill, and turns it into yarn, which is natural and biodegradable.
Once the Spiral was big enough [about 60cm], we folded it onto the now-clean metal frame. Instead of stitching it on to the frame, we decided that we’d use tie-ups, so that maintenance of the cover would be easier. We could remove and wash as needed, add a cushion underneath if we wanted to use it for sitting, or simply untie it for the next time we wanted a makeover!
If you are wondering where you can get your hands on Adel’s work, here are some quick links to some of her funky accessories. Head there for a guilt-free indulgence!