The morning after a storm, a UNT alumnus drives around Denton searching for fallen tree scraps and tosses them into the back of his car to repurpose. Denton resident Starfire Freeman is the owner of Handmade Recycled, a business where he transforms old pieces of wood and glass into household items.
“Handmade Recycled is a business that makes things from single-use materials and things that would be thrown in the trash [and] sent to the landfill,” Freeman said. “We take those things and turn them into everyday items, like cups and spoons and planters and bowls and things that you can use every day.”
Handmade Recycled was founded in 2015, and it started by selling products to The DIME Store. Shortly after that, they set up a stand at the Denton Community Market.
“After [graduating college], I was in several bands that were on the road and tour around, and when I wasn’t touring on the weekends or playing shows at night, I was at home and I started learning how to do different things like cutting glass bottles and woodworking and stuff like that, and that’s how it started,” Freeman said. “My wife and I started making things for friends and family for Christmas gifts and things like that, and we turned it into a business.”
Sustainability is valued by Freeman and his family, so he incorporated this principle when starting his business.
“We’ve always been into recycling and caring for the environment — my wife and I have been vegan for 11 years, so it’s not just something that’s food-related, but also anything in our lives and the way that we live our lives,” Freeman said. “Whenever we decided to start a business, it was natural that we would do something that is giving back to the environment and doing our part.”
Handmade Recycled provides customers with a platform to shop in an eco-friendly way.
“Buying reused [and] recycled products is one of the easiest ways we can care for our planet,” said Shawna Smyth, Handmade Recycled colleague and Denton resident. “Handmade Recycled offers us the opportunity to be an advocate for the environment without sacrificing the quality or beauty of products we bring into our home.”
When making a wooden piece, Freeman retrieves the wood scraps from around Denton, then takes them home to dry off the wood, turn it into slabs and carve it into a useful item.
“We take materials that people literally throw in the trash, so if we can get that diverted to us, then the raw materials, for the most part, don’t cost us any money,” Freeman said. “We then can devote our time to [form] them into the items that we make. That’s why I think we have fairly high-quality items.”
Freeman said he saw others make products with poor craftsmanship including jagged, dangerous edges, so he has prioritized polishing his craft.
“I’ve spent many years learning how to polish a cut piece of glass and smooth it out and turn it into something that’s not only functional but it’s also beautiful and safe,” Freeman said. “You can always expect us to have high-quality items.”
Carrie Crumbley, a Handmade Recycled customer, friend and Fort Worth resident, appreciates the care that is put into each piece.
“One of my favorite and most beautiful kitchen utensils is a Handmade Recycled spatula made from a fallen pear tree,” Crumbley said. “Seeing them develop this new line of hand-carved utensils from fallen trees was and still is so impressive. They are very well made, and I’m confident I will have these tools in my home for many years to come.”
Those close to Handmade Recycled have seen the business continue to develop over the years.
“I’ve seen them hone their skills to produce better and better quality products every year,” Smyth said. “They’ve also grown immensely in their online presence, which is so important in this market but also tricky for most creative makers. I’m really proud of all they’ve accomplished over the years.”
Freeman’s future goals for Handmade Recycled include doing more wholesale orders to get into more retail stores and continuing to introduce new materials and methods into making products.
“It’s really great to keep doing what we love,” Freeman said. “We’re always trying to find new things to make and more useful items out of recycled materials.”
Courtesy Handmade Recycled