Friday, January 20, 2012

Raid the Attic!

I love seeing obsolete or outdated technology turned into something fun and useful again. I mean, just look at this funky purse made from an old old rotary phone!

Check out the full tutorial by Chica and Jo, found via Dollar Store Crafts

Sadly I only use cross-body satchels these days, but I can promise you that if I ever see you carrying a purse like this I will love you forever.

(And by "love you forever," I mean "stalk you through the store until I work up the courage to tell you how cool you are, and maybe ask you out in a totally platonic and John-approved manner.")

Over on Etsy you can find notepads made from old floppy disks or hard disks for as little as $5, but of course this was the one to catch my eye:

$9.15 at emilydesign

Or how about these tiny vintage cameras that Jason Hull turns into nightlights?

Seriously genius. This ones shines through both the lens on the front and the viewfinder on top.

Here's another:

I never knew how much I needed a camera nightlight until this very second. MUST HAVE CUTENESS NOW.

(You can see lots more at Jason's Flickr stream.)

And finally, perhaps the most beautiful typewriter mod I've ever seen:

This hacked typewriter types colors instead of letters. It's a piece of art that actually makes art*! WOW. Made by Tyree Callahan (hit the link for more pics), found via BoingBoing.

[*EDIT: as a few of you have pointed out in the comments, a closer reading of that article shows the color typewriter isn't actually functional. Oops. Still pretty, though!]
I know there's tons of jewelry that makes use of old circuit boards and memory sticks and whatnot, but have you guys seen anything else cool made from old technology? Share your links in the comments!


  1. I have 2 huge boxes full of old tech, everything from vintage flashbulbs to miles of SCSI connectors. I've been trying to figure out what to do with it all, other than take it to County Electronics Recycling Day. Hopefully, I'll get some good ideas here.

  2. Did you know that Jason Hull has INSTRUCTIONS on how to make your own camera nightlight? For the adventurous kind (like you, Jen) found on

  3. I've made sculptures for our "geek room" that I'm working on out of old gaming systems and peripherals. I've only done the xbox ones so far (here: and but I have an old Sega Genesis, N64, and a PS2... all non-working of course... awaiting their transformation :)

  4. I so wish that I had the kind of brain that could figure out repurposing things. I think it's a gene or something. I can only see something doing what it's designed to do. Then, I see what someone else does with it, and I go, "BUT... how did I not see how it would do that?!"

    I guess in the crafty parade, I'm the person who claps as the cool kids go by!

    Thanks for posting these so that I have new toys to lust after!!!

  5. Totally going to have to have one of those phone purses. That's adorable.
    And those camera night lights? too stinkin cute.

  6. That typewriter is awesome! One of my favorites is something I saw at the local IT shop close to 20 years ago: a fishtank made from an old apple computer.

  7. Sadly, the text for the color typewriter states that it doesn't actually paint at all. Interesting concept, though!

  8. LOVE that purse. I think I need to make one.

  9. Ooooh! I'm making a new purse! I know what all my female relatives are getting for Christmas.

  10. Yes, this necklace made from a vacuum tube, which I own and adore.

  11. I went to the link and the color typewriter doesn't actually function. Still super cool though!

  12. Yay, you used my phone-purse find! *does a little dance*

  13. My Friend pinned this Chinese version of your tutorial on Pinterest Flop Tutorial. I pointed her in the direction of your original post instead.

  14. I was googling for geeky bag ideas the other day actually, as I need a new bag, and was looking for inspiration.

    My first thought was making a floppy disk bag like this:

    But I'm not sure if it's "me" (though if I can find enough purple disks, I'd be sold on the idea)... but I will be making a pen holder!

    NES controller


    Not repurposed but cool: and

    And I found a steampunk one for you ;)

    Best repurposed bag has to be this

    .. but all in all (and after nearly buying a stormtrooper backpack), I think I've decided to make myself a Hylian shield backpack.

  15. You could probably turn the phone purse into a cross-body bag if you had a long enough cord (probably wrapped around rope to keep it from stretching out and sagging).

    Also, the drink-mixing typewriter was very cool too...and functional. Sadly, it's not a repurposed machine, but it's still awesome. Video

  16. Purses made from license plates! I saw someone in a restaurant last week with one...but was too shy to approach and ask her about it. Here's a link to ready made ones:

  17. dang it! husband signed in, not me....

  18. Thank you so much for linking to DSC... seriously, a lifelong dream has been realized. :) xoxoxo


  19. As MaryM said, the typewriter doesn't actually paint... One of the many, many problems I can think of is that you'd have to keep replenishing the ink pads after every use, meaning a supply of all the paint colours as well as brushes to apply the colours to the pads... Might as well paint normally!

    So it's not a piece of art that makes art. But it's interesting art!

  20. Is it wrong that I sometimes still use floppy disks? Or is it just wrong to admit it?

  21. I actually knew a Jason Hull a few years ago and it turns out THIS IS HIM!

  22. The phone purse is actually pretty easy to make, short of the clasp part. I need the right glue still. But now I'm off to figure out how to make a cross body strap.


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