What do NASA, the White House, and George Washington University have in common? All three have, at some time, commissioned C. Forbes for one-of-a-kind commemorative items that have been designed around reclaimed historical materials. 

It’s a hot topic these days, and most folks are calling it “Upcycling” 

Pinterest is full of them. Most are home craft projects that anyone with a small sense of creativity and design can pull off. Projects like old wine bottles for drinking glasses–simply cut by an inexpensive and dangerous way. Or other projects like beautiful headboards made from recycled (or “upcycled”) pallets, perfectly adorned with crafts lights and an inspirational quote.  These “simple” and upcycled projects are bound to never work as well as they make them seem online. The idea is awesome though! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle–right?

The upcycling rage is old news to C. Forbes Inc. This concept is one we have been implementing into custom products and mementos for a long time. Take a series of mission coins and medallions we provided for the NASA team of the International Space Station (ISS) for example- Not only did this design boast a beautiful and detailed relief of the ISS, but it also was crafted using metal that had been taken to outer space. When NASA wanted a truly one-of-a-kind challenge coin, we “upcycled” some raw metal material and added it into the coin’s production run. Each and every coin now has a piece of metal that has been to space. Now that’s a special piece. 

When the West Wing of the White House underwent its 100th-year renovation we knew there was another opportunity to upcycle once again. The sandstone that makes up the White House’s white appearance was torn down and rebuilt for a special renovation project. By nature, sandstone crumbles and flakes apart once it has been demolished from a standing wall. Knowing this, we incorporated small pieces of the crumble into unique gifts for the White House in 2001. The smaller pieces were dropped into a lucite paperweight and the larger pieces were framed and marked as a historical piece of commemoration for years to come. All pieces encapsulated the 100 years of American history that lived within the White House’s sandstone.

Another project in which C. Forbes Inc. upcycled materials was back in 2011. George Washington University was undergoing a major renovation of their basketball arena the Charles E. Smith Center. When the old court was taken up, C. Forbes Inc. jumped in for another “upcycling” opportunity. Small pieces of the court were added into lucite cubes. These were then gifted to the donors of the renovation project. All recipients were able to keep a small piece of history that may have held their favorite basketball memory. Was it the shoes of their favorite player? Maybe some reminisced on the most epic of wins that were taken on top of that old court; or perhaps, some saw all the history that this small piece of wood contained. 

These are just a few examples of how reclaimed materials have become part of commemoratives, awards, display pieces, and specialty products for dozens of clients over the years. It’s amazing the ways in which upcycled material can hold so many different stories. For some it’s one particular story; for others, it’s the culmination of many. As for us–it’s the creativity we wish to share with all of our customers. It’s your history. It’s your story. We wish to commemorate just that. 

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