You don’t even need needles… just use your fingers to weave with a simple stitch.
You will need 2 hands, a collection of plastic bags, and some scissors.
You don’t even need needles… just use your fingers to weave with a simple stitch.
You will need 2 hands, a collection of plastic bags, and some scissors.
Last month we worked on a large project with Blacktown Council’s Sustainability team, creating a space for people to gather within and be inspired about a future where waste is seen in a different light.
We transformed 50 discarded wooden pallets into a living Castle by the lake for the annual Blacktown Medieval Fayre. In this first installation, the pallets featured native grasses in the tin-can turrets, and was staunchly guarded by knights in shining armour. Milk bottle water lilies floated in the lake and the wee medieval windows framed vantages of the jousting beyond with old bicycle tyres.
Following this beautiful weekend event install, we re-errected the pallets in the fore-court of the Blacktown Arts Centre, in a semi-permanent installation for 4 months! The installation is functioning as the venue for the current Pop Up Garden Club, which the council is running with locals to learn about gardening! Anyone can join in… visit this LINK to get involved: Pop Up Garden Club – Blacktown City Council
It was a real pleasure to re-work this installation into a different context, for a more permanent set-up. The Pallet’s will be with us to help breath further life into this beautiful creation made from items doomed for the tip or recycling plants around the world.
The 3 ‘R’s.
You know them right? Reduce, Re-Use and Re-think.
Over the last 13 days I’ve been trying hard to re-think my relationship with waste and be plastic free, for July. To clarify, I still use plastic, but I avoid one-use only plastic. I’ve been making sculptures from PET bottles (seen above), and saying no to all those plastic bags we’re offered daily.
It’s much harder than I imagined, and last week I caved in a weak moment and a meal of Nachos at home sent me over the red line, with a PLASTIC bag of corn chips, hard cheese wrapped in the big P, and a PLASTIC tub of sour cream… I’m reusing the tub, but the one-use-only plastic wraps sadly went in the bin, along with my staunch resolve. So I lasted a week without Plastic with strict discipline, which is certainly not my strong point. The experience has fully opened my eyes to how much we as a community needlessly waste plastic, and has inspired me to continue to try to live as plastic-free as possible.
I’ve been able to purchase most ingredients from my local co-op in Enmore: Alfalfa House, and from another whole foods shop in Newtown: Naked Foods, which is expensive but delicious, and organic. I’ve been eating nuts like crazy, and making my classic breakfast muffins most days, so I can snack plastic and guilt free all day long. I’ve spent less on food than I usually do, because now I make most of it myself.
So it seems my love of food is the main factor to negotiate in this plastic-free life-style, and if you’re wondering, kebabs seem to be the most available take-away option. Although I now have to spend more time thinking about where to get my food from, as well as remembering to take my own bags and containers out with me, the silver lining is that I now eat food of excellent quality all the time, with most of it being fruit, vege and grains, and my health and happiness are reaping the benefits. I don’t think I’ve ever consistently eaten this well.
Last weekend I went away with a group of friends and to my surprise they had done a plastic free shopping trip, to include me in the culinary experiences. I was stoked, and super glad to see that I’d made an impact on a larger scale than just myself, already.
In conclusion, I’d like to add that I’m so glad butter comes in paper! This delicious lump of Pepe Saya is churned just around the corner from our workshop in Tempe. Mmmmm. Butter.
I’ve committed to take part in the global challenge Plastic Free July. It’s a personal decision to actively take another step in the direction of living with as little impact on the earth as possible. Lots of baby steps. And steps backwards, sometimes!
On the first day of July, (yesterday) I thoughtlessly said ‘yes’ when my friend offered to pick me up a coffee on the way to our park meeting, and it wasn’t until later in the day, probably by the time that coffee kicked in, that I realised I’d mucked up on my first day: that stupid little plastic sip lid that kept my coffee from spilling out on the bicycle ride to the park had foiled my good intentions to make a strong start to this Plastic Free bonanza.
So I begin this journey with a step backwards, but with a giant lesson under my belt: If I want to drink coffee whilst out and about, I must bring my own cup. Fair enough. I have a feeling I have a lot to learn this month about looking after my needs while not depending on ‘lazy’ plastic wrapped options.
I’m prepared for the big things, and will share some more about my lifestyle changes over the coming days, most of it is to do with food:
I’ve begun a board of visual ideas and sweet info-graphics over on our Pinterest page:
Living Plastic Free, which I will be adding to over the coming weeks.
There’s a lot of information out available on how to change simple things in your life to live plastic free, and putting these ideas into practice is a great way to develop personal habits that impact those around you, and help to support the growing movement away from plastic. I hope to contribute to this movement through blogging regularly about my experiences with living plastic free this month as well as creative ideas to use plastic waste items so they don’t end up as little buoys in plankton!
If you’re interested in more, here’s some Blogs I’m loving at the moment on this topic:
Earth Hour was celebrated with real community spirit last weekend in Sydney’s Western Suburb of Lalor Park. This year’s theme was ‘Appetite for Change: A journey from planet to plate”, so it was fitting that a picnic fair for the locals was held by the Lalor Park Community Garden together with Blacktown City Council.
The Council booked Milkcrate to provide additional entertainment and art at the event, with a sustainable and participatory focus. Amid plant and fruit give-aways, rugs on the grass and hundreds of face-painted kids, you could see our our bicycle powered ‘Earth’ sculpture spinning in the centre of the rotunda, in the beautiful grounds at Chifley Park. The work was made using over two hundred 2 litre plastic milk bottles, and bottle caps. The orb rotates with increasing speed when powered up and flashes rainbow when it gets dark.
The installation was popular with people of all ages. Some of the older people stood around the outside of the rotunda watching the kids line up for a turn on the bicycle to make the ‘disco ball’ spin and light up. We also set up our trusty milk bottle lights, and invited kids to take a freshly cleaned milk bottle and draw pictures on the sides of it of somethings “that they can grow and eat”. Their interpretations were a diverse garden of produce!
The event was a joy to be at, with lots of inspiring stalls and inspired attendees. Way to go Blacktown! We hope that other Council’s will follow from this and other similar initiatives and help make these sorts of community gatherings regular occurrences.
More photos and details of the event at I Love Blacktown’s Facebook Page!
It’s apple season here in NSW!
As the name would suggest, we love milk crates here at milkcrate events. This love stems from their versatility, stackable design, and structural strength. We love finding new ways of using milk crates. A few weeks ago we were looking for a barrel of some kind to use in the construction of our cider press. We had picked about 50 kg of delicious apples from the side of the road in the Southern Highlands of NSW, and had seen designs online for a home made cider press using a car jack. It wasn’t long before the humble milk crate was suggested, and construction began!
Using some hardwood timber and quality birch plywood we had lying around, Tim and Angus designed and constructed this very simple Milk Crate Apple Press. Possibly the first of it’s kind, and judging by our success, it won’t be the last!
This was our first time brewing cider from scratch. Using our new book about the making of proper english cider, fittingly entitled Booze. We learned that the process of smashing up the apples before pressing is called ‘scratting’ and the tool you do it with is called a ‘scratter‘. It follows that the sack you smash the apples in is called a scratt sack. We dubbed ours the ‘scratum’. After we had scratted the apples in a large rubber tub, using our primative scratter (sledge hammer) we transferred the pulverised apples (still in the scratum) to the milk crate. We stacked a few pieces of perfectly cut wood on the top, and cranked up the car jack. Then the delicious juice began to flow. When the flow eases after a few minutes, we gave it another crank, and then another 5 mins later. A bit of a shuffle of the sack, and then another crank.
From our original haul of apples we were able to juice 25 litres on the first press, which we reserved for the cider ferment. We then re-hydrated and re-pressed the apples and juiced another 10 litres for us to drink fresh over the next week. Delicious. It took longer than anticipated to complete the process of washing the apples individually and then soaking in campden tablets to regulate the ph of the cider, and the scratting was HARD work. We attached some triangle braces to the press after it started creaked concerningly, to provide additional strength for the jack to press against.
The apples were joyfully harvested for free, and the press was made from items we had lying around the studio. The local brew shop The Hop and Grain provided us with the cider yeast, pectinaize (for clarifying) and campdon tablets for about $15. For 25 litres of home brewed cider, the reward in 4 months time will be well worth the energy.
Imagine a future where waste materials light up our parties, and the sun powers our sound systems… At this year’s Regrowth Festival, we brought our imaginations to life with a Tree of Life and a grove of mushrooms constructed from used milk bottles, hammocks made from old bicycle tyres, CD mandalas, and a magnificent orb sculpture made from 250 tetra packs. These are just some of the many artworks which helped to make ACACIA at Regrowth Festival 2015 a space which inspires a future of sustainability in others, and for green festivals globally.
With a mixture of art and technology, ACACIA speaks to event participants through the use of familiar waste materials from their lives, re-imagined by our team of artists; providing an ultimate doof landscape for dancing and chilling out. It was an important goal for us to incorporate organic elements into the overall stage design, acknowledging the outdoor setting and the principles of Regrowth Festival. We achieved this though the use of lichen hanging over the D-floor, art works woven into the tree’s surrounding the space, and front and centre is our durable munter-fence, to seperate the crowd from the performers; an old climbing fig salvaged from the wall of a Sydney pub.
The stage structure itself was designed and constructed by us, for last year‘s festival. We were able to build on our work in 2014 to make this year’s show a more integrated space through the way we used technology, lighting and art. We were very glad to collaborate with the team at ANAMORPHIC PHOTONICS to install programmable LEDs in all the artworks and spaces around the dance floor, as well as the stage itself. The canopy projections combined with the lazers and lighting show to create an incredibly encompassing night time rave effect, moving with the grooving punters.
The stage itself was programmed and amplified by GROUNDED SOUND. These guys also put in extra love to power the speakers from our new solar rig, to increase our reliance on the free energy from Australia’s biggest natural resource: the Sun.
Environmental sustainability is the core of our mission here at Milkcrate Events; and we are proud to be helping to build a creative community of artists, engineers, builders and tech-heads who are committed to projecting a positive future around sustainability, and reaching audiences to convey our hopes and dreams in an accessible and interactive way.
Check out the photos of the whole shebang from KUVEX below, and watch out for our next project!
I don’t often write posts in the first person, but this one is a special occasion. So here I am. I’m known to many as Sharky, and I’m the lead artist behind Milkcrate Events.
I’m stubborn in my drive to make art meaningful and to make a lasting impact on audiences through public events and participatory experiences, and I recently teamed up with another crew to help raise awareness about the destruction of our land and pollution and dissemination of our waterways due to mining. Locally its happening in our very own Sydney water catchment. I put on an exhibition to raise awareness specifically about the Leard forest blockade and to create a platform for us to hear more about the concept of Divestment and how it works.
So I made some art and we had some excellent speakers come and tell us all about the fucked up situation in Queensland where there is no hope left and the miners are taking over, and that all our efforts should be focused on stopping the same thing happen here in NSW… The divestment idea was new to me and a lot of over folks and as a result of the exhibition some of my friends have divested… and its spreading.
The event was a lovely occasion, with locally brewed beer, and organic wines from Ascella in the Hunter Valley, while local DJs played tunes, and we put the bicycle tyre hammocks to good use, with the trashy jellyfish floating and fading through colours beside us.
I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to transform the space and make it a beautiful wonderland that hopefully inspires folks in some way, and I’m glad that it wasn’t just about the art… there’s too much going on that matters for art to be just about art’s sake these days… Keep in touch with the idea of divestment, check out the Market Forces website and also tell the miners to frack off!
We have been creative little animals recently!
For the upcoming PSYFARI festival we have created our signature upcycled decor to bring the animals at the bass stage alive!
Dorian is modeling a pair of our ears made from shoulder pads! Thanks to the ladies at U-Turn in Marrickville for relieving some items of their 80’s baggage.
Kids know what they like. And what they like is interactive art! We incorporated this premise with some subtle sustainability education through reuse, and energy generation… and there you go: Sweet art that needs audience participation to bling!
We were recently asked to contribute some interactive installations to the first La Lune exhibition; a night time sculpture walk up Long Reef Headland free to the public and run by Warringah Council.
Pics and Video:
Over the past year we have developed our milk bottle lights into a free standing, colour changing installation which event participants can sit inside of and that is available for hire at local events. We are calling it our Temple of Reuse!
The Temple of Reuse has been installed at various outside events and held up tall against winds. It is also able to be erected inside, as it is free-standing and does not need to be secured into the ground.
It is available in multiple configurations – to suit events of all kinds. In it’s smallest configuration, the lights can be powered by a single bike generator. Our design can expand to whatever floor-space required… give us a challenge!
Video of the first time we set it up at the light exhibition: ‘In The Night Garden’, St Peters:
“Cool” and “Awesome”.
Each of the kids made their own awesome upcycled artwork to enter into the local Recycled Art Awards. During this process the students learned that Reuse comes before Recycling, and that Reuse is an excellent catalyst for our creativity.
We provided each of the students with a 20 litre translucent plastic drum which came from the local Materials Recycling Facility, and a huge collection of other waste material such as bottle caps, lids, ring pulls, and plastic packaging.
With the assistance of glue, tape and paint the students transformed these into their own Picasso-esque head, and then inserted colour changing LED lights into the drum, which can be triggered with a small remote!
So, in conclusion, artworks made from rubbish are cool and awesome because the works are a relevant creative response to our current global situation as well as being practical and very disco… and there are also some sustainability lessons in there too!
Milkcrate will be heading to Cowra in a few weeks, where we will be hosting a two-day workshop Waste2Art workshop for children, as part of the Recycled Art for Cowra Awards during the school holidays. Below are some pictures of the projects we made to illustrate to the kids what they can do with rubbish! We look forward to sharing their imaginative creations with you in a month’s time.
The workshop aims to inspire youth in how to think creatively and to re-use products to make their own sculptures.
Milkcrate will provide guidance, tools, and materials for kids to make their own
3D light sculpture (resembling a modern Picasso) that can be entered in this year’s RAFCA awards whose theme this year is “Functional, Fantastic and Fun”.
The awards this year will feature childrens’ works with judging on Friday, May 2
at Cowra Aquatic Centre.
For more information, contact Cowra Council on 6340 2039.
We are lucky enough to be a part of the MWA crew who made the ACACIA stage at the Regrowth Festival a few weeks ago. It is such an awesome experience to be a part of a team of people who all did their very best at what they love to do, and the result was absolutely spectacular and totally original stage that knew how to throw a party!
The team at Milkcrate Events designed a super sturdy structure using a very cheaply available resource: steel scaffolding poles and swivel clamps.
Then we sourced a roll of heavy duty white vinyl from our mates over at Reverse Garbage, and sewed it all into one big piece, providing the ACACIA stage with the ultimate weather proof shelter.
We also sewed up the rear screens which wrap around the sides of the structure to complete the stage.
The rear triangle is kept free so that the backdrop for the performers was the gorgeous bush site. The photo below is of our session of bass yoga. The best kind.
The design of the structure itself is based on the sacred geometry of the merkaba and we recreated the birds eye view plan of the structure using ring pulls (from tin and aluminum cans) onto the face of the DJ desk. The photo below is of our resident DJ Mantis MD
We activated our collective merkaba with visual projections on every inch of the structure for three whole nights (that’s right… until dawn!) and it was spinning and pulsatingly gorgeous. There were also lazers. SO MANY SWEET LAZERS!!!
The stage site was peppered with awesome interactive installations to arouse the doof in all, and the performers and crew were all very dubstep. The sound system was very Grounded Sound. (website pending!) Below is a photo from the perspective of DJ ForkStab who is havin’ it.
This was the best experience of our lives so far… mostly because of the huge crew of awesome people (you know who you are), with their beautiful ingenuity and their desires to do their best. We can’t wait to do it all again. We hope to see you there next year. A huge thanks to R.E.G.E.N for making such a beautiful festival happen and for providing us with this opportunity. We love being a part of your vibe.
Everyone’s doing it.
Using waste as a starting point for art is great for so many reasons… here’s a few to get the ball rolling:
1. It is a great place to start thinking creatively! Sometimes a starting point can be hard to find when making art, and a found object on the side of the road or in your recycling bin can be a great place to start using your imagination.
2. It helps to create a new consciousness about the place of waste in our society… if you can make art with it then perhaps you won’t chuck it so carelessly away next time. It’s time to start taking responsibility for the waste we create collectively and respecting the earth.
3. Repurposing waste is a great way to impress others (and yourself!) with your ability to transform something imaginatively! It’s fun AND cool, kids.
4. Using waste to make art ultimately makes us think about how we can reduce the amount of waste that we create because we have a chance to contemplate the sheer volume of it available! It is certainly a material that we won’t run out of for our projects and the price is about as cheap as it comes!
If you can think of any more reasons please add them below!
Here are some pics of the art installations which we’ve made with with plastic bottles and other ‘waste’! For more please visit our Pinterest page!
This NYE we installed our beautiful and sustainable milk bottle light creations under Mrs Mcquarie’s Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney for a special foreshore party they curated called ‘Harbourlights’.
‘Cosmic Milk’ is our name for the large colour changing sculpture on the point, helping to create some more visual bling for the night when the fireworks weren’t cranking.
We also set up a bicycle powered light installation on an overhang of one of the cliffs at Farm Cove for the event participants to engage with. The bicycle was free game and the milk bottles were left covered with joyous NYE messages by the close of the new year.
The decor and entertainment we provided fitted will with an overall theme of sustainability and a compost system was employed on the night as well as solar phone recharging and an edible garden… also made using our beloved milk bottle.
Milkcrate decor rocked the Newtown Festival in 2013, providing colour and cohesion to the annual festival with 300m of custom made bunting and 50 large flags and banners to help to brighten up the standard white festival tents and fencing!
We were especially happy to be asked to decor this festival as it is a fundraiser for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre which provides many valuable community services to our local area.
The festival was a big success, and after an early morning drizzle scare the sun came out and the bunting was dancing along with the many groovers in the breeze.
We also brought along our bicycle powered smoothie maker which was busting out delicious icy fruity drinks all day!
Here at Milkcrate we love bunting, and we have many hundreds of meters to prove it!
We bunt it real good, by reusing materials and using bright colours and time worn techniques to create our unique bunting. We’re proud to be bringing back the bunt to communicate the festive spirit within our community in a sustainable way.
We’re bunting the bunt out of Newtown Festival this coming Sunday to help raise funds for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, so be prepared to be bunted in the face.
Big ups to The Bower for providing the fabrics for the flags!
Don’t forget to BYO sweet water bottle on Sunday.
If your are still confused and for more ideas of sweet DIY bunting, check out our bunt Pinterest page at
We were recently invited by Fuji Xerox in Sydney to come up with a design for a desk object made from the the end-of-life printer resources to be used as a gift for their special customers.
Our design wasn’t picked (which means we don’t have to make another 200 of them!) but wanted to share our sweet design with the world anyway…
Let us know what you think!
To cater for the warehouse’s notorious love of the milk crate as a seat we’ve created a tidy little cover for the crate, (as well as a cushion which sits underneath) from old coffee sacks which we’ve collected from local coffee roasters. Here’s some beautiful pics of the seats gracing the bums of some beautiful patrons in a sweet new space in Marrickville a few months ago.
More photos from the incredible Mr. Martin Nester at http://martinnester.com/