Spare tires: new uses for old rubber…

Gadora recently returned from a road trip to Marfa, Texas where the BFF secured us a few nights at Liz Lambert’s el Cosmico for the Railroad Revival Tour – the last vestige of a month-long BIG Four Oh! celebration. A West Texas party where we’d be happy campers a few footsteps away from Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. I was especially excited to return to Marfa, with a different group of gals who exercised entirely different perspectives, and to be staying on a Liz Lambert property where I had hoped to finally meet her. I swear everything she touches is gold, and I couldn’t wait to see how she dolled up the desert.

el Cosmico lobby

From U.S. 67, the el Cosmico could look like any other desert dwelling. Not flashy. A blend of the dusty desert’s palette. But Liz’s simplistic treatment of its exterior and interior elements, coupled with an unparalleled editing of furnishings and wares, kept my eyes busy. The lobby of the cinder block structure did not disappoint—it would be a hub for the next few days. The weekend’s festivities attracted more than 1,800 people—practically the same amount of people who call it home—and a line formed outside the lobby’s ladies room. I was in it. And it was after the nervous excitement of my first-ever conversation with Liz Lambert had subsided that I could soak in the rest of my surroundings. Immediately taken by the blue tile floor, I soon found myself mesmerized by the repurposed tire ottoman.

Reflective tire ottoman.

To be honest, I was kind of taken with its reflective top. Hmm, I’m kinda messy in the desert. It was an ingenious idea. It’s no doubt sturdy (though I didn’t put any weight on it), and I suspect it enjoyed an assiduous former life.

RIP – coffee table and stools

Searching for Liz’s coffee table, Gadora instead found the above set, once listed on Viva Terra. With more than 240 million tires thrown out in the United States each year, its high-time we do something with them! While in 2003 the EPA (seriously? are these the latest stats?) reported, in 2003, markets for scrap tires consumed 80.4% of their reported 290 million annually generated scrap tires. Let’s see: 20% of 290,000,000 still leaves 58 million unwanted tires. That’s still staggering, no? Unlimited Resources Corporation tells a more staggering story (January 2011): The United States just completed its ten year population census report and our country has almost 310 million people living in it presently. On average, the number of scrap tires generated in this country annually is about equal to the population.

Those who know me well have at times quietly accommodated my bathroom tangents. I just loves me some WCs. My Mom would humor me as a kid, when I’d purport to have the puniest of bladders, and allow me check out each and every bathroom in each and every public place. I don’t really love small spaces, and certainly not pungent ones, but I do fancy well-designed powder rooms with octagon tiles, interesting sink shapes, unexpected lights and mirrors. Hello! The washroom at the El Cosmico was so simple. A non-fussy toilet snugged up to a floating wood shelf that provided the perfect perch for pressed paper towels. A framed, hand-printed fire ban poster reminiscent of Liz’s other thoughtful screen prints, and specifically targeting we city slickers, was hung above the porcelain corner sink. And then there was this:

Tire trash can.

Such a simple design. A worn out tire, inside out, with stitched edges and a button accent. SSS = so stinkin’ simple! Why didn’t I think of that? Yes, that’s right, I had to touch it. I was in a bathroom after all, and would wash my hands. I’m gonna make one.

Top and bottom trash can.

Should you wish to purchase one, rather than craft yourself, I found another at David Smith Co. Produced in a manufacturing facility in Blitar, East Java, Indonesia—with a population of 124 million people, it is one of the most densely populated regions on Earth—they’re making use of bits of their refuge.

Recycled Tire Bak Bucket

Found another handcrafted garden pot from Pakistani UBeautyPotsandPlants.com which makes for a great outdoor planter, or a great indoor catch-all too. Do you sense a trend here? Not much of what Gadora found online is actually re-crafted in the United States. I digress, the line outside the loo was piling up, and it was time to leave.

Large tub planter at UBeauty

Right outside the door sat a woven tire ladder-back chair with not a soul in it. After a few conversations with other party goers it had finally turned dark (most campers were out by the designated grills), and I loved the way the light played off its seat and that magnificent floor. It creaked as I ran my hands across it. Liz, thank you for the undeniably purposeful eye-candy. I heart El Cosmico, what you’re doing in the desert, and my wonderful weekend memories. Marfa mesmerized me. Once again.

Woven tire seat ladder-back chair.

• • •

CalRecycle.com ~ a comprehensive list of tire-derived product suppliers (come on, that’s sexy!)

Design World ~ a nice ode to Liz Lambert.

EPA on tires ~ 3 largest scrap tire markets: tire-derived fuel, civil engineering applications and ground rubber applications.

GreenEcoServices ~ “your one click source for all things green” offers a list of 25 ways to recycle tires

TrendHunter ~ tire furniture list…

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