The art of repurposing is kicking it in the world of sports.
Deflated footballs, split skateboards and other athletic equipment offers a rich source of inspiration for innovative artisans.
Recycled as functional objects, items like balls, boards and sticks provide interesting textures, robust patterns and a delightful element of whimsy.
The Material: Ice Hockey Sticks
Los Angeles hockey dad Eric Bourgoujian was looking for a way to whip up a fresh function for damaged sticks his son previously used in the rink. Although imperfect for passing pucks, much of the shaft was fine.
A set of barbecue tools offered the inspiration. Bourgoujian swapped out the regular handles with sawed-off pieces of the shiny sticks. “I thought we could make something cool out of those and keep them out of the landfill,” he says.
Fellow dad John Ufland was impressed. He and Bourgoujian, who both work in the entertainment industry, dubbed their business Requip’d, and so far have recycled more than 50,000 hockey sticks as spatulas, tongs, barbecue forks and other functional products. The utensils and other tools are custom ordered to fit the hockey stick handles.
In addition to regular products offered for sale, Requip’d produces custom BBQ sets and other products for professional hockey teams with sticks they send in, often featuring players’ names.
Bourgoujian says the hollow shafts are ideal for handles because of their “cool graphics” and ergonomic profile. “It’s made for a pair of hands. I think it’s the best BBQ set I ever used,” he says, while admitting that he’s partial.
Many of sticks are manufactured with a slip-resistant surface that suits athletes, and also works for barbecue enthusiasts. “They’re not just a novelty item,” Bourgoujian says. “It needs to work and be functional.”
Barbecue sets from Requip’d range in price from about $40 to $50. Other Requip’d items include bottle openers for about $14, brooms for about $25 and frames for about $45. They also sell ice cream scoops and ice scraper/snow brush tools.
Additionally, Requip’d does their stick-handle thing with plungers. (Yes, plungers.) They’re $16.99.
The Material: Sports Balls
R.J. Angel’s football-player son told her she should do something with his old footballs. So she added a strap and fashioned a purse.
From there, she devised purses from soccer balls, volleyballs and basketballs, allowing the raw textures, brand names and original designs to shine. She grabs them at garage sales and thrift stores. “Everything I make involves recycling in some fashion,” she says. “I consider myself a recycle artist.”
Angel, of Liberty, Missouri, sells her sports ball purses and other items in her Etsy shop, PracticalRecycleArt. A royal blue 10-inch Wilson football purse was on the site at a price of $35.
The Material: Skateboards
Zale Bledsoe adores skateboards and skateboarding — so much so that he works in a skateboard shop. And that offers him a resource for his passion: repurposing the vibrant veneer from treasured skateboards that once scooted along sidewalks, rolled down ramps and performed impressive tricks.
Some shoppers are delighted to provide Bledsoe with their broken boards when buying replacements. “It’s keeping it going. It’s not just throwing it away,” he says.
Bledsoe uses his artistic flair and woodworking talent to piece together fresh patterns from different sections of the original skateboard artwork. His first project was building an electric guitar for himself. Then a friend asked him to make ping-pong paddles.
Ping-pong paddles are featured in Bledsoe’s Etsy shop, SkateboardEverything. The shop also features pens with intricate patterns for $20.
Feature image courtesy of Requip’d