ReadyMade is This Week’s Ready-to-Read

Thanks to Urban Outfitters and plenty of spare time, one of my roommates learned to knit and is nearly finished with a pink-and-goldenrod scarf.
Also thanks to Urban Outfitters, along with intentions to blow off winter quarter schoolwork for the sake of fashion, I will soon learn to make a skirt from an old umbrella and a safety pin. I’m hoping to beat out my roommate in the name of innovation.
Alas, I cannot take credit for this raingear-turned-clothing idea. I instead bow down to ReadyMade Magazine, ‘a bimonthly print magazine for people who like to make stuff.’
While ReadyMade can be tracked down at Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, I emphasize its discovery at Urban Outfitters because both the retail mecca and the out-of-the-ordinary publication have the same personality: attractively eccentric and slightly bizarre, but nonetheless positively original and inventive.
While different from the types of magazines I’ve previously analyzed for the sake of exposing them to the UCI community, I have chosen to extend the life of Alternative Newsstand with one of my favorite kinds of alternative entertainment: fashion, both personal and domestic, which ReadyMade approaches from an utterly unique and astounding angle.
Aside from the umbrella skirt phenomenon, found in Issue 6 in Re-Wire, the ideas for making one’s own lamp are my favorite part of ReadyMade. One letter from a reader featured in Re-Ply showcases a hanging lamp created from the Styrofoam packaging that accompanied his new scanner. Skip through the issue and witness the winner of ReadyMade’s most recent Recycle Challenge: a table lamp made of CD jewel cases. And finally, instructions for making wall sconces out of swinging waste bin lids. It’s simply brilliant!
By now, I hope many are asking, ‘what else can I make?!’ Re-Store supplies various ideas for functional and innovative usage of pegboards. Organize kitchen utensils, create a Zen garden or revisit your 1980s youth with a Lite Bright coffee table.
Sprout a Couch (Re-Cline) ventures to offer up something slightly less functional but decidedly more fun by giving detailed instructions on how to create your very own ‘sod sofa.’
Readers even get a dose of innovative humor when contributing writer Ed Page explains that ‘anyone can make a kitten.’ Such absurd and delightful methods include setting a male adult cat and a female adult cat up on a dinner date, complete with candles and music by Barry White, or carving a wooden kitten and wishing for the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio to turn it into a real kitten.
I digress.
ReadyMade ventures back into somewhat more feasible inventions by suggesting magnets as space savers in the refrigerator and as key ring caddies in the entryway. Use your imagination or grab your own copy of ReadyMade; the concepts are too brilliant and outrageous for me to outline here.
ReadyMade surrenders its creative genius to ideas patented by outside sources. Oh! My Glass makes tumblers that also sport bottle openers in the base. And returning to my adoration of ReadyMade’s featured lamp designs, the Knock-Off Lamp is a bowling pin-shaped accessory with a gravity switch that turns out the lights when the pin is knocked over. Or just grab Nite Ize’s Flashlite Friend, a mini flashlight with limbs that lock into 10 different positions.
In addition, ReadyMade offers an explanation of the ‘art’ of Chindogu. Chindogu, which literally means ‘strange tool,’ was formulated by Japan’s Kenji Kawakami to identify ‘useless inventions’ like the Thumb Zipper Ring, which help users get a better grip on maneuvering zippers. The idea of a Chindogu invention is that it ‘must be, from the practical point of view, (almost) completely useless,’ and ‘if you invent something which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time, then you have failed to make a Chindogu.’
This is fun stuff, people!
The Spring Scrub Down begs readers to revert to more natural household cleansers and makes it an easy conversion by listing ingredients and explaining exactly which natural cleaning agent to use for what. In the spirit of Mother Nature, ReadyMade concocts an easy, cost-effective bird feeder in response to reader pleas that most bird feeders in the market are ‘either too ugly or too pricey.’
After some wrap-up advertisements and ‘Mad Libs: Create Your Own Nigerian E-mail Scam,’ ReadyMade is over.
I’m depressed until I realize that this is the spring 2003 issue and three more ReadyMade treasures have since been produced and are ready for me to enjoy.
Just because I’m a little behind the times on this one doesn’t mean you have to be. I urge you to either whet your appetite, if I have not adequately done so already, at www.readymademag.com, or cruise over to The LAB (also known as the ‘anti-mall’) in Costa Mesa and pick up your copy of ReadyMade at Urban Outfitters. Maybe check out the knitting sets while you’re there.