Photo: Ruby Claire
The married couple behind Reclaimed Wreckage, Chris and Lisa Brown are as unexpectedly unassuming as the products they salvage. When you enter their house that fact is confirmed as you’re immediately struck that this is no average couple in no average home. Their home is decorated with self-done artwork. A small shelf above their laundry area is decorated with Buddhas and bamboo. Tractor tire inner tubes, bike tubes, old vinyl and random bits of plastic become malleable in their hands as the detritus is transformed into the couple’s current passion: reclaimed and upcycled byproducts of industry used as material for backpacks, messenger bags, belts, guitar straps, clutches, bags, earrings, watch bands, vests, garden sunflower décor and more. “It’s a little bit of everything. We basically do whatever the hell we want,” Lisa says.
That is a main theme for these out-of-the-box thinkers given the impetus for the creation of their joint venture. It began with a desire for Lisa to find a durable diaper bag for their son Captain Chaos (not his given name). Lisa used to be in the same camp as other naïve mothers of her generation, intent on buying store brands for their perceived reliability. “People care more about buying something dirt cheap than they do about something that’s going to ...” Lisa starts as Chris adds, “... last and actually work,” and Lisa finishes, “... be quality. If I hadn’t started making bags, I would have spent hundreds of dollars on bags, whereas if you invest a little more money you can get something ecologically responsible and it’s going to last a lot longer,” Lisa says.
Store-bought bags could not withstand Captain Chaos, so Lisa started looking to discarded byproducts as a cost-effective, durable material and solution for her own bags. A farm field near Heber still yields the sought-after tractor tubes that farmers abandon on the side of their fields, lest they immediately pay the removal fee. This is where the Browns found, and still find, reclaimable, vulcanized gold. Their bags sport rivets, satin-lined interiors and zippers. Lisa has expanded even more into upcycled vinyl product creation, as displayed by her windchime-like earrings.
If you aren’t able to make it to this year’s Craft Lake City, you will soon be able to purchase their expanded line inside of SLCitizen or online at reclaimedwreckage.etsy.com.