Savvy Saver Sue


RUDE Girl is relating to the above quote by Hugh MacLeod.  When I went to school the focus was on academic subjects.  I had very little idea there was any form of creativity within me.  I guess I determined this because I was not good at drawing!

It wasn’t until retirement six years ago that I realised it would be wise to get a hobby.  But what sort of hobby?  That’s when I started to ask for my crayons back.  Much like I imagine, my new found friend, Susan Denyer [Sue] from Bacchus Marsh has done.

Sue approached me to be a guest on Rude Record, and RUDE are thrilled to feature her this week.  As the blog title suggests, Sue is one very savvy money saving lady.  She excels at recycling the things others abandon and discard.  RUDE are good at recycling but Sue and her husband Michael are brilliant!

This is Savvy Sue’s Story

I love RUDE’s creativity and passion and their commitment to living a frugal life in harmony with the reduce, reuse, repair and recycle philosophy.  I love reading RUDE Girl’s interesting and entertaining  blog, and feeling part of an on-line community whose interests and recycling philosophy are similar to my own.

RUDE are a great example of what I call “radical recycling”. Buying from op shops is fairly mainsteam these days, whereas buying unloved items from TIP SHOPS is more extreme. I admire them for fixing up the less loved TIP SHOP items, and giving them a new home.

My husband, Michael and I retired two years ago, after a lifetime of living frugally.  We now have more time to devote to our passions of art, music and working for the environment.  We love to recycle.  My husband has renovated our Victorian house using secondhand materials, and our house and garden [photos below] are filled with secondhand finds.









I endeavour to use secondhand materials in my art projects.  I obtain these from op shops, garage sales, fetes, TIP SHOPS and friends. I have even found things lying on the ground which I have been able to use!


I am currently working on creating small mixed media works of art as part of the index card a day (ICAD) on-line art challenge.  Basically, participants create a piece of mixed media art on index cards every day in June and July, and many people video their results.

Rather than using new index cards, I cut out rectangles from old cereal packets and work on these instead. When complete, I glue the “index cards” into my A3 art journals.



Secondhand art materials, on my desk in my studio, ready to create an art journal to showcase my trip to Paris



Every month, I attend an art class at our local  Bunnings store in Melton.  The students wipe their brushes on baby wipes and I save these, dry them and then use them in my art [photos below].



The completed index cards [photos below] with painted baby wipes’ background.  The collaged words and images came from an Allure magazine obtained for free at the Melton TIP SHOP. The lace is an op shop find.

All the index cards have painted baby wipe backgrounds.  The textile background on the art journal page is upholstery fabric, as I was recently given some gorgeous upholstery samples that were destined for landfill.



Index cards with painted baby wipe backgrounds


Index card with painted baby wipe background


 I create art using recycled materials most days. This is mostly done for my own pleasure, but I also love to share my art journals with family and friends.   I have also been involved in community art projects using secondhand materials.  It is fun to see what other people create using natural and recycled materials.



Secondhand photo album, used as an art journal, with recycled table napkin on the cover


Thank you Sue for sharing your story and photos.  We are definitely like-minded souls. RUDE Girl, like Sue and her husband retired in my 50s, and RUDE boy went part-time over five years ago.

When Sue and RUDE Girl get together, we natter enthusiastically about reusing other people’s junk and rubbish.  Time just disappears, and that’s a good indication that in our retirements, we are both doing what we enjoy.

And RUDE are really glad to know, that Sue saves all the baby wipes from her art class at the local Bunnings warehouse, to create beauty not blockage.

Like Savvy Sue and her husband Michael,  Beat The Man by reusing and recycling what you can, to make beautiful art journals and garden vignettes.

Tin Shed

Tin Shed 11 Dec 2014

Suburban houses and tin sheds are often the objects of ridicule.

David Byrne


In the RUDE household there is definitely no instant gratification happening.

We have a carport but we do not have the luxury of a garage workshop.

We can prove this, by RUDE Boy’s years of searching for a tin shed at the right price.  He has been scouting Ebay for what seems like a lifetime.  He has been putting watches on all these sheds.  But when the auctions are over, he throws up his arms at the prices secondhand sheds are fetching and/or the locations of them.

We knew something would come our way eventually.  We just had to be patient.  And the universe eventually provided a fire damaged shed at the right price = zilch!!

RUDE Boy had to go and collect the shed immediately,and he moved like lightning to oblige.  The shed is approximately 3m x 2.4 m with a double door at the front.  There is no window.  He had to dismantle it and load it on the trailer.  No big deal, just a couple of hours work.

We are very grateful that the previous owners thought to offer it up, and did not resort to throwing it in the skip with the other fire damaged materials and items.

With a RUDE spit and polish this shed will serve us well as a workshop.  We look forward to posting our ongoing shed story, as it gets a RUDE makeover.

Beat The Man and ‘shed’ any ridicule about rescuing fire damaged and free tin structures from the dumpster.


Front of shed ~ fire damage can be seen in the right hand corner



Fire damaged side of shed


Entire shed dismantled and stacked into the trailer

Read about the history of sheds on Wikipedia, and note that Australians, and New Zealanders too, have a love affair with these structures.

Something Subversive

What I love is the f-you about him [Jean Paul Gaultier]; f-you to rules, f-you to tradition, f-you to doing things in a particular way.  Toni Maticevski ~ Australian Fashion Designer

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier is at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia until February 8, 2015


Above:  ASSIN brand viscose garment REscued from landfill.  It reminded me of the black and white stripes Gaultier is REnowned for.

Read about the interesting true history of stripes in fashion here

Gosh it’s amazing what can be saved direct from landfill.  I liked this ASSIN garment a lot when I spotted it amongst the piles of fast fashion.  I was attracted to its unusual cotton fabric label, unique raw edging, and the soft as silk fabric. I had no idea that ASSIN garments are expensive to buy, even on sale!

I [Karen] studied 5 years of French.  I have been told that my maternal great-grandfather went to Jesuit boarding school in France.  I have also been told by a distant relative that he had an attitude of f-you.  I would not be surprised if my Gaultier gauche, rude, cheeky and Beat the Man approach to a frugal lifestyle is partly genetic.

Like fellow western suburbs’ designer Toni Maticevski, RUDE can relate to that f-you attitude that Gaultier oozes.  You certainly have to have it to survive the stereotyping that comes with living in the west of Melbourne. 

People who live inner west will not have the same level of stigma that comes with living in the outer west.  Toni Maticevski grew up in the inner west and has a studio there today.  RUDE lives in the outer west and has a studio at home. The differences are that RUDE is a fringe dweller and not a well know couture fashion designer.

Gaultier was REcycling and REusing in the 1980s with his punk creations. As a child, he listened to his grandmother tell stories about life during the war. Women were already recycling then, to cope with the prevailing shortages: men’s suits were altered for women; pants became skirts. By enriching recycled objects, Jean Paul Gaultier made them magnificent. Sumptuous linings turned military garments into formal attire, while evening gowns sprang from camouflage-print fabrics.

Like Gaultier, RUDE’s approach to a creative life is not mainstream and was formed in childhood, watching a sewist mother deconstructing garments for fabric and removing buttons and zips for REuse.  RUDE’s Scavenger Style defies a lot of social norms around hygiene, consumption, consumerism, safety and acceptability to name a few.

Community Recycling Network Australia summed up well RUDE’s ‘cheeky’ approach to REcycling in the link below.  RUDE is loving that we are REcognised for our contribution to keeping stuff out of landfill.
Beat the Man and do something subversive!

Tip Top

DSC04517A big bag of clothes REscued from the point of landfill, including two tailor made pure wool men’s jackets

“Time does nothing but hand you down shabbier and older things.”
Aleksandar Hemon, Love and Obstacles

As time marches on, RUDE prefers those things that are not new and shiny.  Sourcing garments from the point of landfill takes time, and it does result in us finding shabbier and older things.  But shabby can become the new chic, and the old the new, with a sprinkle of creativity and determination to Beat the Man.

I [Karen] was given a long line ladies top by a friend who frequents her local Tip [dump] Shop at the point of landfill.  She REscued the top but it was not the right size.  I could see why she had REscued it, as it was lovely, but when I tried it on it looked ghastly.  It had these knitted loops around the armholes that made me look like a gladiator.

I hacked off the top and sleeves, added a waist band and made this top into a skirt.  A quick REfashion resulting in a new skirt a la moi scavenger style.

Seams Unlikely

“It seems unlikely but there is wealth in waste and riches in rubbish.” 

Karen Ellis ~ Blogger

Seams unlikely

I had no idea Seams Unlikely was a book about a sewist! 

As I inserted the above graphic into this blog post I noticed the woman had a yellow, what looks like a tape measure around her neck.  I had heard mention of Nancy Zieman before and had watched her on Youtube.  I just had to put two and two together to realize it was ‘that’ Nancy from TV sewing fame.

I wonder if Nancy has ever upcycled seams into a placemat.  Seams unlikely?  Well perhaps for Nancy but not for RUDE.  I [Karen] craft and sew with fulled woollen garments REscued from the point of landfill, that have been hacked up to make fabric.  From these hacked garments, I REuse the seams to make into trivets or placemats.

This round trivet is made from seams that have been coiled and handstitched together.

Seam Trivet 2

This skewed rectangle shaped placemat is made from seams that have been zig zag

stitched together by sewing machine

Selvage Placemat

It may seem unlikely but you can upcycle practically anything!  Beat The Man and be your own creative genius.

Scavenger Saint

“Thrift is the really romantic thing; economy is more romantic than extravagance…thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste…if a man could undertake to make use of all the things in his dustbin, he would be a broader genius than Shakespeare.”  G. K. Chesterton

red barina  This is the type and colour motor car my daughter drives

I [Karen] follow Richmond [Tigers] and Danny follows Collingwood [Magpies] two teams in the Australian Football League [AFL or Aussie Rules].  Aussie Rules is a fast and spectacular football style compared to many other football codes.  Spectacular, in my opinion, due to the speed and aerial leaps by players.  However, RUDE is not an avid supporter of any type of football and can take or leave watching the games.

I do however like to watch the entertainment at the AFL Grand Final.  Lionel Ritchie did a great performance and had me dancing on the ceiling.  But Meatloaf was ever after known, as low-grade minced meat after his performance [not worth posting here but you can watch it on Youtube].  I still do not know why the AFL uses overseas entertainers when there is such great talent in Australia.  This year Tom Jones the Welsh entertainer will be belting out a tune or three for the AFL Grand Final footy crowd.

RUDE’s daughter is a keen Saints’ [St Kilda] team supporter. The St Kilda Football Team is in the AFL. It’s team colours are red, white and black. Therefore I want to make her a Scavenger Saint throw rug in these team colours.  I have sourced woollen garments from landfill in these colours over the past year.  The wool has been fulled and has been cut up into 61/2 inch squares.  I have commenced the process of joining the squares together with a running stitch. The MCC initials on the grey/black patch stand for the Melbourne Cricket Club.  This wool fabric patch came from a bomber jacket in the free bin of a local charity shop. The backing fabric is from a black QS bedsheet made of cotton and sourced from the point of landfill.  It appears as new.  I will bind the two pieces together with strips of this sheeting fabric.

It’s a patchwork craft project in progress with the aim of getting it finished for Christmas.  I gather my daughter may not need to keep her legs warm at football games now, however when she’s much older she may welcome the warm sentiment.  She has a red coloured motor car and may even choose to keep it there as a picnic rug.

DSC04458 DSC04460 DSC04463 DSC04464DSC04441 DSC04442

Scavenged Onesie

There’s nothing I’d never wear, really. I’ve worn pink spotty pajamas from a Goodwill store onstage before. This only happens when I’m having a small breakdown!  Marina and the Diamonds

 DSC04517Men’s garments in excellent condition scavenged from landfill for a guest blog feature about Scavenger Style in the coming weeks

In the book Shaping Sustainable Fashion, Sociologist Juliet Schor is featured as citing the cultural critic Raymond Williams when she says, ‘we are not truly materialistic because we fail to invest deep and sacred meanings in material goods.  Instead our materialism connotes an unbound desire to acquire, followed by a throwaway mentality’ (Schor, 2002).

RUDE believes its garment and textile scavenging is true materialism, where we connect and engage, not just with the garments’ qualities but the associated experiences of self-improvement, and with ourselves as human beings.  We agree,  that to be in a state of engagement and connection, people have to be active and able, to have access to the skills, tools and opportunities to use them.

Scavenger Style is partly about honouring and appreciating all that was involved in a garment’s original construction whether it’s of high or low quality.  There is no better experience for me [Karen] than to REuse or REfashion a high quality garment from the point of landfill.  This type of garment, even if worn and torn, has a quality that’s becoming rare to find, especially at landfill.  You feel like an archaeologist REscuing precious artefacts at a dusty dig site.  But more than that, you have to think like the museum curator who will eventually get the artefact.  For example, the curator will have to see the potential for display and/or for storage until the time is right for the exhibition.  This is not unlike discovering a garment and seeing its potential for REfashion and wearing.

What is mostly seen by RUDE at landfill is piles of  fast fashion, some only suitable for rags but most garments able to be washed and worn immediately.  This is where I have to think much more creatively about the possibilities for garment REscue, REuse and/or REcreation.  In this situation, I feel like Mother Teresa helping to provide orphans in the slums of Calcutta with a better life.  Saving fast fashion garments, in my opinion, is very much true materialism, and much more noble because these garments really are considered not worthy of REscue by many.  Hence the large amounts that are not even downcycled but sent to landfill.

This is where Scavenger Style is unique, compared to what is being promoted by other REfashion bloggers.  Scavenger Style really involves scavenging, like a seagull scavenges for its food.  There is no walking into clean consignment/vintage clothes or charity stores where all the goods have been picked over, sorted, colour coded and displayed for sale.  There is no going to a textiles’ wharehouse where garments have already been REscued and sorted for on-selling.  There are no styling blogs for scavengers, except Rude Record styling outfits mostly made up of garments and assessories direct from the point of landfill.

Scavenger Style involves getting down and getting dirty, beating off other scavengers, sorting through piles of unsorted stuff and haggling over price.  Many people complain of musty charity shops, well Scavenger Style is about accepting the odours of rotting household rubbish.  It is not for the faint hearted and/or those who prefer the thrill of shopping in consignment stores for high quality vintage, the cleanliness and organisation of charity shops and/or buying new at department stores.

And of course that’s not the end of RUDE’s scavenging story.  You get in your car to come home and your hands are dirty.  If you suffer with allergies you can be affected by the dust.  When you get home [after washing your hands] you have to immediately sort and start cleaning the scavenged items. This is work and takes time and effort.  You don’t have to do this,  but we do not leave anything lying around inside that is unclean.  And whether deemed clean or not, most garments are immediately sent to soak overnight.

At a time when charity shopping is on trend worlwide, RUDE has shifted its focus to an alternative source of secondhand shopping.  Come share a journey with us, that just may be on trend in years to come.

Check out my scavenged onesie and zipper replacement in this video.