The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

June 30, 2009

Fixing my Blue Plastic Umbrella

Plastic is good for some things, right? Like keeping us dry in the rain. A few months ago, Treehugger posted an article about eco-friendly umbrellas ranging from those made from recycled plastic to one touted as the first biodegradable umbrella. So when my little blue umbrella broke, I considered replacing it with one of those — until I remembered that the most eco-friendly choice would be to repair the one I have!

The problem: One of the umbrella’s ribs was broken. (I now know it’s called a rib after Googling “parts of an umbrella.”)

Upon close inspection, I could see that a Springy Part A needed to go back into Straight Part B.

But how to hold them together? Michael came up with the brilliant idea of using a straightened paperclip. And voilà !

I twisted the paperclip with pliers to hold it in place and bent it in a circle to keep it from puncturing the umbrella.

And here’s the finished product, complete with a few pieces of duct tape (which we already had) to patch a couple of little holes. The duct tape might not be beautiful, but it worked. Isn’t it nice when “green” and “cheap” get together?

This is nice too. Just because I couldn’t resist.

And now please check out Cat’s fantastic blog post about disposable umbrellas and an artist who makes unique clothing and bags from donated old umbrellas. Fix first! Donate later.

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11 years ago

I bought a really nice one from Cirque du Soleil that I’ve had for over 10 years and just now need to repair – if it doesn’t work it will transform into and awesome lampshade. I’ve got my eye on a replacement umbrella made of cork from Cork & Co. in Lisbon.

14 years ago

Hi Soots & Arya!! *kiss* *kiss*

14 years ago

This is really great! I think everyone has had trouble with umbrellas breaking at those spots and that is so amazing that you were able to fix it with a paperclip!

By the way your kitties are adorable! I have a black kitty I love :).

14 years ago

LOL atta Girl! Good job on the fix. I have two umbrellas- Both givin away at Mariner games. I get the best junkat mariner games- fishing poles, bobble heads. Anyway I digress, one of my umbrellas is ready for the donation bin,unless I find a way to fix the stem of the umbrella! the other is still working, still in fine shape

knutty knitter
14 years ago

I have a special collection of copper wire just for mending umbrellas. I think my present one is about 16. There are 2 others in the house. Williams one has been mended three times already and it is only a year old. Bad construction I'm afraid. The other one belonged to an elderly friend who is now in an old folks home (annoying the heck out of them I should think. She still has all her marbles!). I used it when mine went awol and then slipped on some mud and fell on it. I'm still considering how to mend that as I broke one of the ribs. I still think its doable though.

Umbrellas were always special to us as kids. They were rare and expensive items then and were not for playing with. I still find them fascinating in the way they transform.

viv in nz

Erin aka Conscious Shopper
14 years ago

In the Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyzyn was always fixing things with paperclips. Who would of thought they had so many uses? :)

14 years ago

wow. Ize never seen our eyez show up green like dat in a photo. we iz so kewl!!

14 years ago

This is the approach I'm taking with my plastic shower curtain. The best thing to do is to just keep using it for as long as possible, even if it's not the prettiest thing going.

Mary Kay
14 years ago

Bravo Beth! Repair should definitely be added to the list of R's…

14 years ago

This is such a good post! I can't wait to go back to using an umbrella just so I can fix it when it gets dented. Best of all about this post is the link to The Green Cat and AiAiGasa's umbrella clothing line.

Kitties need umbrellas, too. If I had a broken umbrella, I'd make a little headbrella for Soots & Arya.

14 years ago

It stopped raining here for a couple of days so I may get to my umbrella fix too . . . I need to sew the cloth back to the end of one of the spokes. I was feeling rather virtuous about (planning to) do it . . . now I can feel like I'm part of a movement!

14 years ago

I've actually fixed a broken umbrella the exact same way!

But I think the paperclip did eventually break, and sooner rather than later. I eventually had to get a new umbrella anyway. Still, it was great to make it last as long as possible.

Condo Blues
14 years ago

Fix first, recycle second. Espeically when you have such great feline supervisors.

Readymade had a lot of DIY projects when they ran their broken umbrella McGyver Contest. The winner made a magazine rack from a broken umbrella.

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Cat, fantastic post! Sorry I didn't see it before or I would have totally linked to you. I just added your link to the bottom of this post.


The Green Cat
14 years ago

Yay! Good for you Beth! I'm always glad to see someone else repair an umbrella. I've been fixing one of mine for 20 years. If you ever need to dispose of one, consider donating it to designer AiAiGasa (see my blog post for links) who creates unique clothing and bags from broken umbrellas.

14 years ago

LOVE your Blog!
I'll have to try this if/when my umbrella breaks :)

14 years ago

That is great, Beth! I know we've all thrown out things that could be fixed with a little work. Now, on to my pile of mending…