Waste not, want not

Upcycle tin cans by spraying them in silver, gold and brass
Upcycle tin cans by spraying them in silver, gold and brass

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for turning junk into something new and useful, according to upcycling supremo and TV personality Max McMurdo. Sharon Dale reports.

The festive season generates a huge amount of waste. There’s the packaging, the unwanted gifts, the broken toys and the old stuff you need to clear out to make room for the new stuff.

Max McMurdo
Max with his chair made from an old wheelbarrow

Max McMurdo Max with his chair made from an old wheelbarrow

While most of us groan at the sight of bulging post-Christmas bins and the prospect of finding a refuse and recycling centre, aka tip, that hasn’t been closed by the council, Max McMurdo is rubbing his hands with glee.

This is the most wonderful time of the year for the upcycling supremo, who specialises in turning junk into something useful.

One of his first triumphs was making old washing-up liquid bottles into spaceships when he was child. His talents were later honed while studying for a degree in Product Design and Visualisation and during a spell as a car designer in Germany.

After a successful pitch on TV’s Dragons’ Den, he left with investment from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis, who helped him launch his business, Reestore Ltd, which makes upcycled furniture and accessories from objects destined for landfill.

This coffee table is made from scaffolding boards

This coffee table is made from scaffolding boards

His creativity and memorable creations, like his sofa and chairs made from old baths, have made him an obvious choice for Channel 4’s “Fill Your House for Free”. He is also celebrating the success of his first book, “Upcycling”.

“Creating your own items is far more enjoyable than simply buying them and what’s more the whole process can be educational,” says Max, whose book includes a section on tools and techniques. It rightly assumes you will have the nerve to equip yourself with a variety of power tools and gives advice on everything from sawing to welding and wiring.

There are 20 projects made from recycled materials. These include a rather fabulous chair made from an old plastic wheelbarrow and artificial grass and a coffee table made from scaffolding boards.

Max has also come up with a few ideas on how Yorkshire Post readers can upcycle their festive waste:

Upcycle old plastic toys, including Lego bricks, to create hooks using Sugru mouldable glue

Upcycle old plastic toys, including Lego bricks, to create hooks using Sugru mouldable glue

*Glue or Sugru wine bottle corks into an upcycled picture frame to create a quirky notice board. Alternatively, collect lots to cover a table top or a wall area. Cork is both on trend and a great sustainable material.

*Spray empty food tins​ gold, copper or brass. These can be used as vases or plant pots. You can also use them to hold cutlery or utensils.

*Use old or broken toys to create fun hooks for children’s bedrooms by sticking them to the wall or to a wardrobe with Sugru mouldable glue.

*Upcycling by Max McMurdo is £20 and published by Jacqui Small. www.maxmcmurdo.co.uk

*Max McMurdo is a big fan of Sugru. It is mouldable but acts like superglue and can be used for crafting and for DIY projects.

It sticks permanently to ceramics, glass, metal, wood and most plastics and fabrics. You have 30 minutes to get the job done before it starts to dry. Within 24 hours, Sugru turns into silicone rubber that stays stuck. It’s also easy to remove. Max says: “I’ve been using it for years especially with materials that can’t be easily screwed or drilled into.” www.sugru.com

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