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Once Upon a Time a Humble Cable Reel…

23 May 2016

I’m sure you have seen them around building sites: huge reels with wire or chain rolled around them. Circular wooden slats joined by a cylinder; they are made with second-rate wood badly scarred and stained. Surely, these are no good for anything once the wire or chain has been used up. Just good for firewood or to be recycled and reused to hold wire or chain?

But the humble cable reel had a dream, a dream to go out into the world and become something bigger, something to be admired, something that the neighbours would peer at and think: wow, what a genius invention. It didn’t want to be merely recycled, it wanted to be upcycled!

First, it set forth and transformed into a garden table. Wood-stained in green and with smaller reels used as stools. Once weather treated, this garden table can become a feature that will attract attention. Someone thought to put an ice bucket in the centre hole and now even the beers were cool.

But, then, the cable reel had aspirations to be more. So, it was transformed into a table that could grace the lounge. Glossed in white, with the bottom reel transformed into a bookshelf. The centre hole filled with a glass bowl, filled with glass baubles. The old industrial look is long forgotten in this new, dramatic dress of the quiet cable reel.

The cable reel began to grow in confidence and transformed into an industrial size clock, just one of its discs hung on the wall as a feature in a New York Loft. The distress of old screws and the stain of its serial number kept to give an authentic sense of the reel’s previous use.

There are thousands of cable reels that have taken the step towards upcycling. The moon shape rocking chair… the double height cable reel used as a bar table with a handy shelf half way down for dead glasses… the triple height cable reel used to hold cascading plants in the corner of a conservatory… the children’s play table painted with a road or with the shapes of a farm or the details of a mushroom.

Old rubbish it once was, but now the cable reel is worth something and everyone is looking to the next big project. This is a true story of upcycling. Check out Pinterest if you don’t believe me.

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