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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Upcycling: Creativity for Everyone, and on a Budget Too!


I first learned about upcycling when I got into crochet a few years ago and stumbled across plarn: yarn made from old plastic bags. Being a crafty person from childhood, and the sort of "green" person who rescues empty toilet paper rolls from the trash, I jumped right into upcycling.

Book Cover: "Mend It Better" with art of a needle and threadIt's nothing new; people have been making quilts from worn-out clothes, building homes using bricks from crumbling buildings, and otherwise re-using things for centuries instead of buying unaffordable new ones. These days, upcycling has a new virtue: it's more ecological than recycling (you cut out the steps of transporting and breaking down the plastic, glass, or paper). Also, you don't have to already be an accomplished crafter or maker to do it.

If you enjoy sewing, knitting or crocheting (or think you might), browse through Mend It Better with ideas to fix a favorite old shirt or pair of jeans to suit a range of skills—and styles. Even if you've never picked up a needle, jump in—this book provides detailed how-to's.

Cover of book "Make It!" with pictures of crafts, a large covered bowl made to look like a face in the center.Have limited time for upcycling because you have kids? You can upcycle together!  Check out Make It! for kid-friendly projects based on your trash or recycling bin: empty soda bottles, junk mail, and broken toys can be turned into a cool boat to float in the tub, or a unique bowl to give as a gift. Just the thing for cold weekends or snow days.

Upcycling includes bigger projects using wood and metal too. If you're interested in woodcrafting a good place to start is with pallets: those simple wooden platform used to move refrigerators and other large objects around a store. Your local home or garden store might even give you a couple for free!

There's no end to what you can upcycle and the Internet is full of ideas. To find the more popular projects and organize them easily, Pinterest is ideal. Just do a search on the word "upcycle" and any object you want to upcycle or make, from broken flowerpots to socks worn out at the heels, then pin the ones you like onto a pinboard with any name you want.

Happy upcycling!

Beth C.

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