PORTLAND — In the green mantra, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” the vendors at Saturday’s Picnic Music + Arts festival were all over the reuse part.

There were the expected repurposings – sea glass and wave-tossed rocks turned into jewelry, for instance – but there were plenty of people who found a way to give new life to items that were perhaps calling out a little less forcefully for new roles.

Take D.S. Bullock of Springvale, for example. Her Road Rash Rubber reclaims bicycle and truck tire inner tubes and puts the rubber back on the road, so to speak, as pocketbooks, wallets and key chains.

Bullock has cultivated bicycle shops and truck tire companies as sources for her rubber. The shops are only too happy to pass the inner tubes to Bullock, saving themselves the fee they normally have to pay to send the them to landfills.

Then Bullock washes the inner tubes – “usually more than once,” she notes – cuts them into more manageable pieces and sews them into items that she says attract more attention than mainstream goods they’re modeled on.

“A lot of times, what happens is that, from a distance, it looks like leather and people aren’t into that, but then they see that it’s rubber and are drawn in,” Bullock said.

Bullock has been reusing rubber for about a decade and said customer interest seems to be growing along with the green movement.

Prices for her recycled items range from $5 for small keychains to $300 for a large handbag.

Nearby sun-dappled Lincoln Park, where the festival was based, Jessica Russell was watch ing over an array of reused items, including pet beds made from old hard-sided suitcases, with legs attached and soft pillows inserted.

Russell said she was inspired to start making things herself by an online do-it-yourself column. The pet beds, she said, came from observing the way her cats naturally gravitated to an open suitcase as an inviting place to take a nap.

“They seem to approve,” she said of her cats’ responses to her brainstorm.

Other items she made this summer include necklaces adorned with old skeleton keys and even bottle openers – sure to be a hit at parties – and rings topped with old watch innards.

Russell admits that her forte is finding the reusable goods, while she leaves much of the actual construction of the pieces to her husband, Todd Russell, and her sister, Elissa Gordon.

Russell said she scours the Goodwill stores, yard sales and junkyards for the items.

“They’re hard to find, but once in a while, I’ll hit a treasure spot,” she said. “One man’s trash … ”

Kari Chapin was watching all the reusing going on. The author of “Handmade Marketplace,” a guide to selling and marketing handmade crafts – which she was also selling at the festival – Chapin said putting old things to new uses is both a sign of the times and the wave of the future.

It’s equal parts troubled economy that creates a reluctance to throw anything away and a new generation’s ethos, Chapin said.

“We’re working with less to make more,” she said.

Chapin said it harkens back to the days of the Depression, when almost nothing was thrown away. She remembers her grandmother re-using soda caps – sew a little fabric around one and it becomes a small trivet.

Chapin said she feels an affinity for those who prefer older items to the mass-produced.

“I would rather have the history and love of the original,” she said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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