The Ipswich man who makes it his business to see treasure in your trash

PUBLISHED: 17:24 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:31 10 January 2019

A selection of Callum McGinn Designs

A selection of Callum McGinn Designs


For Callum McGinn, the old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure has proved to be very true.

Callum McGinn of Callum McGinn DesignsCallum McGinn of Callum McGinn Designs

Through the upcycling company he started just a month ago, the 22 year-old has already made creations such as coffee tables out of old books, shelving from video tapes and chopping boards from off-cuts of kitchen work tops.

And why not? As people become more environmentally aware and turn away from ‘fast fashion’ and plastic products that end up clogging up oceans, upcycling is becoming increasingly popular.

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For Callum, it’s a creative outlet that he balances with his day job as a building service engineer.

Callum's man cave being builtCallum's man cave being built

“As a kid, my late grandfather and my uncle used to take my to their shed to teach me about carpentry,” he explains. “I started doing it as a hobby more recently, starting with a few bespoke projects for my girlfriend’s family who encouraged me to start selling my pieces.”

Callum lives near University of Suffolk, and works on his creations from the “man cave, workshop and hobbit hole” that he has built himself in his back garden.

“In my job, I do a lot of drawings of industrial pipe work projects for industrial plumbers, which has been great inspiration for some of the designs I’ve come up with,” he explains.

Callum is rather proud of the coffee table he designed, with the centre made from books fixed together.

Callum's man cave, workshop and hobbit hole that he has built in his back gardenCallum's man cave, workshop and hobbit hole that he has built in his back garden

“At the auction in Woodbridge, there are always books going for almost nothing,” he says. “People dump books all the time, and I love trying to salvage as much as possible.”

A lot of ideas Callum comes up with himself, or his friends send him pictures of ideas that he tweaks to make his own. And he tries to source his raw materials for free, and locally from Suffolk, wherever possible.

His prices range from £4 to £150 and Callums sells his items at local craft markets as well as online.

“I was very busy just before Christmas - my most popular items were my bottle cap and resin coasters,” he says.

Upcycled sweet dispensor gets a boozy makeoverUpcycled sweet dispensor gets a boozy makeover

At the moment, his company - Callum McGinn Designs - is run as a part time pursuit, but Callum admits that his dream is to quit the day job and upcycle professionally full time.

“These days, recycling is a big issue, and it’s so important we all make an effort to cut down on waste,” he says. “We just get rid of stuff without thinking, but with more imagination, you can make knick-knacks and quirky items from all sorts of junk.”

Upcycled candles, Callum McGinn DesignsUpcycled candles, Callum McGinn Designs

Pet bed, upcycled by Callum McGinn DesignsPet bed, upcycled by Callum McGinn Designs

Side table made from books, Callum McGinn DesignsSide table made from books, Callum McGinn Designs

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