Artist Spotlight: Penelope Bellus and Oh Sew Penny

When Penny’s mother taught her to sew when she was twelve years old, she
immediately fell in love with the craft.  She started making her own clothes and
later made her daughter’s clothes, as well as children’s clothes and baby
comforters for a children’s store.  Though she took a break while pursuing
a “real” job, sewing has remained a creative outlet for her throughout her

Penny has been recycling for many years, and recently started to mesh that
with her craft.  She discovered that there are so many vintage linens still out there that
are not being used because they have holes or stains.  Many of these end
up in the landfill.  All of my aprons are made from vintage linens, most from the 1940s and 50s. She mainly uses tablecloths, but also has feed sacks, dish towels, and vintage yardage and embellishes them with doilies, hankies, dresser scarves, rick rack, and lace.  OSP p4

Penny says, “They don’t make cottons of this quality anymore, and
I love being able to upcycle them. I can cut around the flaws and make
my aprons.  Something considered useless is now a work of art, as well
as something useful once again.”oh Sew Penny aprons


Penelope Bellus and Oh Sew Penny are located at Table #13.

Artist Spotlight: Jessika Gerondale and Rags & Bones

Taught early,  Jessika Gerondale grew up crafting from whatever was lying around and was taught to be resourceful, both out of necessity and to not be wasteful.Rags + Bones, Refillable Notepads 34 - Jessika Gerondale

“I enjoy using reclaimed materials for a few reasons. It’s more important now than ever to reduce our waste and  the human impact on our planet. Creatively, I enjoy taking inspiration from the materials, rather than the particular medium or technique. I love finding vintage and other discarded items and figuring out ways to give them new life through paper craft, mixed media collage and assemblage, mosaic, embroidery or whatever I feel would be the best way to show off the discarded objects. I love the challenge of using as much reclaimed material as possible while not limiting the ways I create with them.”Rags+Bones, Refillable Notepads 1 - Jessika Gerondale

Jessika uses old paper items to create refillable notebooks, origami style paper bows and gift tags (both reusable), small batch and limited runs of wearable art ( earrings, pins) and mixed media collage/framed art mounted to mismatched plated collected at estate sales and second hand shops.Rags+Bones, What a Dish (5) - Jessika Gerondale

Jessika Gerondale and Rags & Bones are at Table 18.

Artist Spotlight: Carolyn Woody and Lunarcat Studios

Origami is a traditional Japanese art form.  Carolyn Woody was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with her grandmother growing up in Hawaii. Her grandparents had emigrated from Japan and introduced origami when she was a very young child.  “It was always a fun childhood pastime and one of the ways she kept me entertained.”Su 4 - Carolyn Woody

Carolyn’s interest in origami was rekindled after she had graduated from college in Portland and became involved with POPS (Portland Oregon Paper Shapers), the local origami club.  Now she am fascinated by origami, especially with modular origami where several pieces of paper are often assembled into complex three-dimensional models.

You can also check out a profile of Carolyn written last year by Cindy Dauer of Tualatin Valley Creates.

For the Recycled Arts Festival, Carolyn is featuring her origami map shirt ornaments.  The origami shirt is traditionally folded out of a single dollar bill.  She decided to take this traditional origami model and  scale it up in size. OS392 - Carolyn Woody

Carolyn uses recycled maps to add more color and to make it more personal.  “One of my customers requests an origami map shirt with the birthplace for each new grandbaby,” Carolyn reports. “The maps I use come from a variety of sources, mainly from book sales and garage sales.  I have been folding these origami map shirt ornaments for years and sometimes get maps donated by total strangers!”OS425 - Carolyn Woody

Think about it……if you want Carolyn to produce an original origami map for you, you can speak to her at the Festival and arrange for it! Carolyn Woody and Lunarcat Studios will be at Table #24.


Artist Spotlight: Tess Mattos and Second Chance Skeins

As a relative newcomer to Oregon and the Willamette Valley, I am still finding my way around the region, learning all the amazing resources it has to offer. As the planning committee for the Recycled Arts Festival starting its effort five months ago, one of the requirements was to introduce me to some of the best scrap resources that exist nearby.

One, located in Portland, is Scrap, an amazing center of donated materials that are sold at great prices.  This store was mentioned by more than one of the artists who will be showing and selling their work at the Festival.  2018-12-30 16.20.28 - Tess Mattos

Tess Mattos enjoys Scrap a lot, and even teaches classes there.  As a volunteer she also offers her expertise with yarn to review all the donated material. Those that have enough length are offered for sale. Those that are not long enough for a knitting project grab her attention.

“I work with reclaimed materials for the variety inherent in them, as well as for the fulfillment of making something useful out of something useless,” Tess explains.
“In each Second Chance Skein, I combine short lengths of at least 20-30 different yarns.  The mixing of so many colors and textures is precisely what makes the end result so fabulous and fun.  So having a wide variety of yarns to work from is essential.  And since I only use a few yards of any given yarn in a skein, it is a perfect way to re-use short amounts of yarns, that are almost useless by themselves.”2018-12-30 16.19.10 - Tess Mattos (1)

Tess can trace her interest in the basic idea — of mixing multiple yarns, colors, and textures in one skein — to expensive commercial versions of “wild” art yarns, at least fifteen years ago.  Over the ensuing years, she developed many different techniques to blend a variety of yarns within a project, such as free-form crochet, or changing yarns on every row or two.  However, it is only within the past year that I pulled together my love of mixing yarns, and my interest in re-use and upcycling, to start making Second Chance Skeins.

Upcycling everyone else’s leftover bits and pieces not only provides the diversity and variety Tess enjoys, but she also finds the effort to take what others throw away, and turn it into beautiful, exciting art yarn extremely satisfying.

Tess Mattos and Second Chance Skeins are at Table #12.

Artists Spotlight: Gina Tombleson and Consciously Crafted Jewelry

Pre-teen girls love their bling and Gina Tombleson started making jewelry at age 12. In the past four years she began to play with bicycle inner tubes!  For years Gina had made real feather earrings that were super fun and very pretty. But lots of folks were making feather earrings and creating a pair that stood out from the rest wasn’t the challenge she was looking for.

Gina explains, “Jewelry supplies can be expensive and were not always easily attainable when I lived rurally. In the days before ordering from Amazon, I often had to make do with whatever I already had in my art studio.  If I wanted something different to work with I would get creative by taking something apart and reusing its components in a new and resourceful way.IMG_6763 - Gina Tombleson

“I saw that some folks were using bicycle inner tubes, cutting them into all sorts of shapes and sizes, and then making them into clothing and jewelry. I thought that inner tubes would be such a fun medium to work with, and the idea of using something that is trash, and that I probably already had, somewhere at my house, was right up my alley.IMG_6789 - Gina Tombleson

“So I found an old blown out inner tube in a box in my garage, grabbed a pair of scissors, and practiced cutting it up to look like the feathers I had imagined in my mind. It didn’t take long before I added paint to make them even more delightful!”FarmFest sorting

Gina loves being able to tell folks who are trying on the earrings what they are made from, because it always elicits such a pleasantly surprised smile.  Using reclaimed materials challenges her to imagine how to be clever in previously unconsidered ways. And who doesn’t love repurposing something old? It is super satisfying knowing that what are now lovely earrings were once destined for the landfill!IMG_6851 - Gina Tombleson

Gina Tombleson and Consiously Crafted Jewelry are located at Table 37.

Artist Spotlight: Elsa Dye and Elsa Dye Handmade Jewelry

It’s time for spring cleaning and Elsa Dye is waiting for her friends to call her. She’s happy to take all those decorative metal tins that seem to be everywhere holding treats during the Christmas season. How many do YOU have in your attic/basement/garage?

Elsa first started experimenting with creating jewelry from repurposed decorative tins about five years ago.  Since she always loved tins because of the wide variety of lovely patterns that they come in, Elsa wanted to make something that celebrated that.Elsa_Dye_double_disc_tin_earrings - Elsa Dye

Getting more serious to learn her art medium better, she  further developed her tin jewelry by takings classes in traditional metalworking. Elsa reports , “Taking classes helped me refine my techniques and gave me new ideas to explore in my designs.”Elsa_Dye_rectangle_tin_earrings - Elsa Dye

And Elsa appreciates something more about what she is able to produce. “One of the reasons that I love working with reclaimed goods is because of the the history of the material.  It feels good to have an appreciation for a discarded item that has already led a useful life, and to be able to reshape it into something brand new so that it can  continue on!”Elsa_Dye_hinged_tin_earrings - Elsa Dye

Elsa also loves the ever changing variety of the material.  While she has developed her  style for the repurposed tin jewelry, “no two pieces are ever the same because I am always finding tins with new colors and patterns.  In a world where many things are designed to be exactly duplicated, it is really special to be able to make unique items that are the only one of their kind in the whole world. “Elsa_Dye_hinged2_tin_earrings - Elsa Dye

One amazing aspect of the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival IS the uniqueness of the art produced by Elsa and the other artists. This is a golden opportunity to think of that special person in your life…..not only is Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up soon, but with some careful consideration, you can find an amazing gift for the graduate, the bride and groom, and even for your holiday gift giving.

Elsa Dye and Elsa Dye Handmade Jewelry can be found at Table #28.


A Few Steps BEFORE Recycling

Recycling is a feel-good process. Our trash hauler Recology identifies itself as a recycling company, not a landfill company.  That means when China and other Southeast Asian countries stopped taking mixed recyclables from the United States,  we had to go through an adjustment.

Last summer there were more restrictions about what was allowed in our bin. But Recology has worked hard to find buyers for our recyclables and more items are allowed now.  And you can now bring your polystyrene foam to the Depot.  Check Recology’s What Bin? app on their website to see how you should sort that item. Call the office at (503) 472-3176 if the answer is not provided in the software.

That is all good news, but it’s important that you also understand that not all recycling gets used that way. While things might be better here because of Recology’s priority,  less than 9% of plastics are recycled  worldwide.

You’ve seen the photos of how trashed the ocean is. You’ve read by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than ocean animals. You’ve read the news that there is plastic inside our bodies now from the food we eat and water we drink.  We have no idea how this is affecting us.

It’s going to take some effort to clean things up so our children and their children have a healthier environment.

That is why Zero Waste McMinnville also encourages you to start REFUSING to buy items if they use plastic in their packaging…plastic that immediately has to be trashed…if you have a zero-waste option. Using the bulk bins in the supermarket is an easy way to make that transition. Most of the grocery stores in town have bins; Winco has a very large selection that also includes pet food. But there is one more step to being a zero-waster when you move to bulk bins: you need to bring re-usable containers with you. 

The stores provide plastic bags and plastic containers. The bags will go to the landfill and we know the issues with wind blowing that lightweight an item off the landfill and into the Yamhill River and onto adjacent properties.  I use mesh bags that I found online, but more are becoming available in the stores themselves to encourage this behavior. They are tightly woven and can hold solids, but fine items like sugars might fall through some larger weave bags.  I can toss them in the wash to make sure they stay clean to hold food. 

Source: Wild Minimalist

I use an offered  plastic container to fill with peanut butter, but I wash it and bring it back to the store for re-use.  At this time there is no tare station at the bulk bins but if you want to bring your own containers, and many people prefer glass to plastic, you can stop at a check out and ask them to tare your container. Make sure to have them write the tare weight on the container or its lid. That way, when you are ready to pay, you will only pay for the weight of the contents.

REDUCING is another step to use to minimize your trash. One of the biggest waste issues in our homes is food. People may not like eating left-overs, so they get pushed to the back of the frig and eventually become fuzzy. Not going to eat that!  

So, when buying fresh food like fruits and vegetables, milk and other refrigerated items, having an idea of what you will make with the items will help minimize having extra sitting around and spoiling in your house.  Use your freezer to package up produce in season when locally grown fruits and vegetables taste so fresh. The library has cookbooks and the Extension Service on Lafayette Avenue also has information that can help you prepare your food for the freezer so it will be delicious and safe to eat at a later time.  

Dehydrating and canning are other ways to preserve surplus food as well as prepared dishes when you have leftovers. These methods also end up with a shelf-safe product, which means it can be put in the pantry or cupboard and not take up freezer space.

Image result for re-use
Source: Tanana Valley Watershed Association

RE-USE is another step that eliminates trash. Sometimes we buy something and enjoy it but stop using it either because habits change or something breaks.  If you really are not going to use something again, pass it on. Decluttering is a very freeing feeling and no reason to keep things you won’t use.  I had a father-in-law who filled his barn over 60 years with broken things because “he might need them.” We had a lot of clean-up to do when he passed on.  But he grew up in the Depression and learned to be frugal.  We also can be more frugal but not to that point!  If the item needs something fixed in order to use it, be creative because many manufacturers want us to be attached at the wallet and plan the obsolescence of their product.  Sometimes they don’t even offer parts so you can repair things.   You might find some of these ideas useful!

LOGO jpegIf you want some amazing ideas of re-use and alternative use make sure to come to the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival April 26th & 27th at the Linfield College Nicholson Library. It really is a misnomer to call it a “recycled” arts festival as the artists have amazing items that have used things that might be considered trash in alternative ways to produce things to enjoy.  Alternative use or upcycling are more common terms for these things. Come and see.

Only after you REFUSE, REDUCE,  and consider  RE-USE are you ready to sort your trash into recycling, composting or landfill. 

The Magic of Second Life

Nope, not talking religion or anything spiritual here. I’m talking about RE-USE.

Re-use is finding another way to use something that no longer serves its original purpose in your life. In our casual life, not caring about how we affect the environment, we might tend to just “throw away” the unneeded item.

But the enlightened individual (okay, maybe there is something involved here that has to come from your heart and core) understands that there is no “away” when we no long want something.

What to do? re-use

Zero Waste McMinnville is going to offer an opportunity for 20 people or groups of people. At our Compostpalooza event on Saturday, June 16th, we will be holding a Second Life Flea Market. For a rental fee of $20, you may set up a table and sell items that are in clean/good/usable condition that you no longer need. You may charge what you want, but you must take any items that do not sell out with you when you leave.

Compostpalooza will be held at the Grange (1700 SW Old Sheridan Rd, McMinnville, OR) with the Second Life Flea Market located inside the lower level. The farmers’ market is located outside at that time of year so there will be lots of people coming to the Grange for the market as well as the Compostpalooza event.

There will be a table and 2 chairs available for each person who wants to grab this opportunity.  Time of the market is 10-2 so set up will start at 9am.

If you are interested in participating, contact me to reserve a spot. Second Life flea market poster

September First is Coming Soon

If you live in McMinnville you are probably aware that the City Council passed an ordinance that will eliminate the single use plastic bags from being distributed at cash registers in the large stores on September 1. Here is a blog that describes this measure fully but this is what you need to know.

info Spanish

This Spanish language version above and the English language version below not only provides you all you need to know, but you can click on these “photos” and print them out to share with others. info English


Reduce. Most of us may first think of weight loss when you hear that word, but in the world of Zero Waste it means something much easier to achieve, at least for me. To reduce means to lessen the amount of items you use that end up needing to be sent to the landfill or incinerator.


My daughter lives in California so, like many of her neighbors, she made great efforts to reduce her water usage during the past few years of extreme drought. Because of efforts like hers, the state’s residents reduced their water usage much more than the expected goal with the mandated restrictions.

One example of conserving water that went well beyond the simple effort to turn off the tap while brushing her teeth was to place several buckets in the tub while the water was warming up for a shower. That cool water was then used to irrigate their garden, producing an abundance of tomatoes and other items without requiring any additional water. Now THAT was a win win!!

Conserving resources is one way to reduce. Others are just small tricks and trade-offs that can really add up.

For example, in the summer I get carrots from local farms at the farmers’ market, but in the off season I am dependent on my local grocery store.  For years I purchased carrots in one or two-pounds bags.  A recent trip to Roth’s provided an interesting and pleasant surprise! img_2014img_2015 So it really makes sense…and cents… buy the loose carrots. Don’t bother putting them into a plastic bag provided in the produce section. You can carry them home in your shopping bag without that extra plastic that can not be recycled and would end up in the landfill.



img_2018When we moved to Oregon I was surprised and very pleased with all the choices I had in the bulk section. One of our weaknesses is the freshly ground peanut butter. It is perfectly acceptable to carry in a previously used and washed container and lid to refill. I use and reuse the same plastic container and lid often.  When we eat the last of the peanut butter, I wash them and place them in one of my shopping totes to bring back into the store. If you prefer to use glass you will need to tare the extra weight, so check with your supermarket on how they prefer you mark the container.

I think McMinnville’s  largest bulk grocery section is in WinCo, but all the supermarkets here have them.  They provide nuts, grains, pastas, candy, sugars, flours, dried fruit, coffee and so much more. Some stores have bulk available for liquids like syrups and honeys. Others have cleaning items. And in other parts of the country there are some local items. I still miss the oranges to make fresh squeezed orange juice I enjoyed one winter years ago when I was in Miami on assignment for three months. Bulk purchasing permits you to obtain the amount you need at prices typically considerably lower than what may be found packaged in excess cardboard and plastic on one of the inside aisles of the supermarket. And that cardboard and plastic needs to be disposed of afterwards….why bother with it at all?img_2019

Once you’ve shopped you need to carry all those yummies from the store to your car and then into your home. The effort to eliminate the use of plastic shopping bags is huge since there is only potential reuse for those, not recycling at this time.  It is better to reduce by opting for reusable cloth bags.

When we moved here we had not started using cloth totes to grocery shop so it had to become a new habit. There were just too many times we forgot to get the bags back to the car until we figured out a simple solution.  As I unpack I push all the totes inside one and then hang that one from the doorknob to grab the next time we head out to the car. Then the only time we really need to remind ourselves to grab them is when we pull into the supermarket parking space.  If anyone has any tricks, please share!img_2021

Here are a few more ideas for reducing how much trash you produce:

img_2025Stop using dryer sheets. I grew up with a mother who did not use any kind of softener, so was happy when dryer softener sheets became available. But about two years ago I stopped using them. Instead I buy liquid softener and use a plastic container (the one I use now had mozzarella in it originally), for dryer top storage. Inside the container is half a kitchen sponge. It soaks up the softener. I squeeze the sponge to reduce how much liquid it holds and then put it in the dryer with each load. The clothes come out with the same softness as the dryer sheets and without all that excess trash.

Never buy bottled water. If you don’t have access to a good well or spring, it is much better to get a reliable water filter and drink from the tap.  Then you can carry a reusable water bottle. This could be as simple as using a mason jar.

img_2024Take a reusable travel mug to the coffee shop or make your coffee at home. Use a French press or coffee maker and avoid those single-serving packages used in Keurig-like machines.  If you prefer those single serving coffees, there are reusable coffee filters that fit in your coffee maker, too!  And of course, standard drip machines have reusable filters.

Take your own reusable containers to takeout restaurants. If you hand over the containers when you order and ask nicely, most restaurants will oblige you. I know that the Saturday breakfast served each week at McMinnville’s Cooperative Ministries provides sit down as well as take-out servings. The expense of the take-out containers is a big factor in the breakfast budget and there has been discussion about asking people to bring their own containers.

Return egg and berry cartons to the vendors at the farmers’ market for reuse. Or use the berry containers when you take advantage of the many pick-your-own opportunities nearby.img_4812

better-than-store-boughtDitch the processed, packaged food altogether. Make your own soup, yogurt, salad dressing, ice-cream and other foods that come in cardboard, aluminum, and plastic packages. Batch cook on weekends with friends to make it easier. You’ll save a ton of money, and eat much, much healthier this way too. Lots of cookbooks on the market including this one can help you see how easy it is!