By ecoRI News staff
Putting Sustainability on the Table
Sabella Studio, Westerly, R.I.
Even his home, a 1760s farm in Westerly, is reclaimed from the past, so it should come as no surprise that reclamation is at the heart of artisan furniture maker and woodworker Steven Sabella's work.
Sabella specializes in finding wood and artifacts at consignment shops, boatyards or yard sales and turning them into new, functional one-of-a-kind pieces for the home.
Much of Sabella's inspiration is drawn from Rhode Island's marine heritage. He restored a teak swim platform off the back of a yacht and turned it into a headboard. He reimagined a salvaged mushroom anchor as a table leg.
"You can still make beautiful products and be conscious about where your materials come from," he said. "I'm a small operation so I can afford to do that."
When not using reclaimed wood, Sabella uses wood sourced from New England such as cherry and tiger maple. Sabella even upcycles wood cutoffs from his larger works to create cutting boards. He sells his pieces out of his Westerly studio.
Pumped About Working with Flat Tires
Re-Tired Gear Bags, Sandwich, Mass.
(Re-Tired Gear Bags)With five sons biking competitively, Linda Keough knew her boys went through a lot of gear, but she never thought about it until one day, when she was out in her sons' workshop and saw a slew of flat bicycle tires.
They were Dugast tires, an expensive and handmade brand of tire favored by cyclocross racers. The tires couldn't be repaired, but, according to Keough, they looked too good to be thrown away.
A light bulb went off. Keough, a graphic artist who had been making and selling handmade pocketbooks, decided to put her sons' castoff bike tires to use. Her new venture, Re-Tired Gear Bags, was born. That was back in 2009.
"I've been stocked with tires ever since," Keough said. "Now people will just bring them; they end up on my doorstep. Maybe someday I'll use them all."
She even got boxes of old gears — which she now also incorporates into her bag designs — from her friend who runs a bike shop in Norwood, Mass.
Keough sells her bags online and at artisan markets in southern New England, including The Providence Flea.
Newport Lobster Shack Kitchen, Newport, R.I.
State Pier Nine in Newport is the new home of Newport Lobster Shack Kitchen, an outgrowth of the Newport Lobster Shack Cooperative at the state pier on Long Wharf, where fishermen have been selling their catch directly to the public since 2010.
With the new kitchen facility, the public has an opportunity to buy freshly cooked items made from lobsters landed at Pier Nine.
According to Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit, the Newport Lobster Shack Cooperative is a powerful model for the survival of local fisheries. By selling their catch directly to the public, the fishermen can earn better value for their product, she said.
"All of the Kitchen's menu items including fresh steamed lobster, lobster rolls, lobster bites, lobster cakes, and hand-picked local lobster meat come straight from the lobsters plucked by fishermen in local waters and landed right here at State Pier Nine. You can't get any fresher than that," Coit said.