A couple of weeks ago, I had a very interesting Sunday afternoon outing with my mother-in-law to a Repair Café in Skerries. It was organised for Sunday 24/03/2019 from 3-5pm in the Lounge of the Bus Bar, Skerries, Co. Dublin. My mother-in-law is an artist; she paints, makes jewellery and creates copper and metal bird sculptures so she’s no stranger to creative skills but she always likes to learn new things so off we went to the Repair Café. To be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect. I had heard of Repair Cafés mainly through my interest in Zero Waste lifestyle blogs and social media groups. They are a really great innovation, appearing in ever-increasing numbers around the country in a effort to bring back the ‘Make Do and Mend’ mentality of generations past and as a place for people to share skills that enable us to repair things that have worn out, rather than immediately binning them.
As I mentioned, we weren’t sure what awaited us so we decided to bring a few items that were in need of creative assistance as well as some sewing equipment. My own level of skill in sewing is very basic – I can fix a tear, sew a (wobbly) hem and reattach buttons but anything more creative usually ends in disaster. My own mother was very skilled at sewing, knitting, crochet and embroidery and it’s one of my (thankfully few) regrets in life that I didn’t learn more from her when I had the chance.
When we arrived at the Bus Bar, it was gently packed. There were different ‘stations’ dotted around the lounge with volunteers who were giving their time and skill freely and generously, demonstrating everything from felting, to embroidery, to quilt-making as well as a volunteer with a sewing machine who was offering clothes repair tips and practical help. I didn’t get to see everything but what I did see was very interesting and provided lots of information and inspiration. It was lovely to be surrounded by people who all share an interest in creative skills and are also so generous with their time and energy in sharing those skills.
All are welcome and there was no entry charge. There was a donation box which was entirely optional and covered the cost of the tea, coffee and cake which was also provided. There are a number of Repair Café pages on social media, in various locations around the country. This one in particular was organised by the Sustainable Skerries Initiative which has been the force behind a number of sustainability initiatives in the area including the Skerries Allotments and several projects highlighting energy and water conservation in the area. Their website can be viewed here https://sustainableskerries.wordpress.com/ and they organised a World Café event in November which seems to have been the starting point for the Repair Café - https://sustainableskerries.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/world-cafe-have-your-say/. Hopefully it’s an innovation that will take off and I look forward to the next one, in whatever form it may take.
In the meantime, I can always browse the Fingal Library shelves for ideas for the next event – there are plenty of how-to guides and instruction books on upcycling, sewing, knitting and various other creative projects. The library catalogue can be accessed from home or on a mobile device using your library card and PIN via the Fingal County Council website on https://fingal.ie/council/service/find-book-view-your-loans-and-renew-your-items/. If you can think of a creative project, chances are there’s a book about it – and if there isn’t, you could always write one yourself!
By Aileen Coffey, Fingal Libraries
A selection of books about Upcycling you might like to borrow.