23 December 2009


I don't know when I learned the word upcycle - but it wasn't long ago. However, I love it - it's what I like to do! Take something with little intrinsic value and transform it into something new. A quilt made of scrap fabric, a knitted hat made of odds and ends of yarn, a wool sweater felted and remade into a bag. It's a particularly thrifty version of craftiness: there's little or no need to purchase raw materials.

For years, I've been collecting pieces of scrap paper - pretty bits torn out of catalogs or magazines. The things that appeal to me have pattern, color, texture - no text, no figures, no illustrations. They're architectural details, oriental rugs, grasses, paisleys, shimmering seas. Finally, I got around to buying some Mod Podge and began transforming everyday objects.

I took a handsome turquoise and blue chocolate box, covered the top and bottom with a wallpapery pattern, added some rectangles of oriental rugs, and ended up with a gift box for a handmade scarf.

I covered an old stool with rough squares of leafy greens and distant landscapes, added a name in blue block letters cut from the undulating roof of a Gehry building, and produced a personalized step stool for a not-yet-walking baby (which I wrapped before I took its picture).

And the little wooden box that had once held a tasty wheel of Epoisses got a new life with some (different) oriental rugs.

There is the danger that I will d├ęcoupage everything in sight.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Put down the mod podge and nobody will get hurt!

They sound like great gifts. When I hear about projects like this it makes me wish I was a saver of things--however the anxiety attack I would have housing a scrap box full of paper is just not worth it.

I have a friend who saves everything--old calendars, magazines and it is true she's always got what she needs for projects such as yours.

Furrow said...

Decoupage, eh? Sounds right up my alley. When I was a mosaicer/stained glasser, I collected all kinds of stray bits of ceramic and glass. Most of it is still in the garage, and my husband uses it as an excuse not to organize the garage. He's afraid he'll throw away something I might someday want. Yeah, sure, whatever.

Your box is very pretty.

Unknown said...

I love upcycling. It lends purpose to my otherwise obsessive pack-rat tendencies.

One of the monkeys I made this Christmas used to be an ill-fitting pair of corduroy pants. Sssh, don't tell anyone.


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I save things like that but I give it to my kids, who use it for their projects. I just gifted my son our strand of broken Christmas lights. I'm very curious to know what he'll do with them!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Oh by the way my brother-in-law makes things from old skateboards: baby chairs, spinning tops, slingshots. (Who knew there were so many old skateboards in the world?) http://www.etsy.com/shop/boardgames

PurestGreen said...

Love this upcycling concept. Recently I saw the most beautiful teddy bears made with old wool sweaters that had been shrunk in the wash. They were amazing.

Imperatrix said...

Lovely! Now, the last time I used Mod Podge, it stayed tacky for a long time. Has it changed over the years, or maybe there's a top coat I hadn't heard of? How do you stop the stickiness?

jenn said...

absolutely brilliant and crafty! I so have to start thinking like this.

Wait. I'll need a glue gun...cool.

Melissa said...

Stop her before she crafts again!

Actually, don't stop her. You should post some instructions so we can all try! :)

cactus petunia said...

Mod Podge is addictive stuff, isn't it?

alejna said...

Again, I love what you've done.

I wish we were neighbors.

niobe said...

Omigosh. I *love* mod podge. it is the bestest stuff evah.