Belated happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! And to the non-American, I hope you, too, give thanks where ever you are.
I've always been into upcycling. Ever since I used to watch Linda Barker and her 90's gang used to repaint, resurface and re-imagine people's old furniture within a budget on Changing Rooms, I've been all about breathing new life into old pieces. Why the big obsession, you ask? Why not just buy new stuff? All kinds of reasons; wanting to hold onto a piece for sentimental value but make it work for you, cost, and that's it's usually a lot easier to give an old unit a lick of paint and new hardware than get your head around flat-pack instruction booklets. I think the two biggest factors contributing to the new upcycling craze; a) it's fun! It's getting creative and getting use out of the end result. And you know that getting to show off your new-found creative genius in all its uniqueness and splendour to admiring guests is a major feel-good factor. And b) "They don't make it like they used to". More often than not, your granny's old coffee table is going to be of a much higher quality than your modern alternative- though it might be more attractive. Sooooo... That's where upcylicing to your tastes comes in!
I love going online to check out upcycing inspiration. A quick Image search of your keywords (your item, desired style, colour etc.) is a great place to start. Then, keep an eye out for door knobs (Anthropologie is a real treasure trove for cute door knobs and seem to constantly have a few designs on sale), haberdashery, fabric and wallpaper remnants (which are perfect, because you'll usually only need a small quantity of materials) and different odds and ends such as broken costume jewellery, found natural objects and unused trinkets. Once you have an idea, and some goodies, choosing a piece of furniture will be a lot less daunting. You or your family will probably have a contender- and some people will be glad to offload an unwanted piece. If not, flea-markets, charity shops and auctions are amazing, though being discerning about the quality and condition is important to remember. Of course you're going to give your chosen piece a fabulous makeover, but the last thing you want is to discover your finished project is riddled with woodworm.
Last week, during the European Week for Waste Reduction, I went to "The Big Upcycle" in The Stillorgan Park Hotel here in south Dublin. It was organised by The Upcycle Movement and Stitches Be Crazy (which wins my imaginary award for the best name of a small company) and played host to craftspeople and upcyclers from all around Ireland, as well as staging demonstrations on furoshiki, decoupage and using the decor cult product Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It was so amazing to see both the talent and the possibilities out there. Like who would've thought that vintage cigar boxes could make quirky radios? Or gun bullets (those words right there is the most hardcore this blog will ever be) could make dainty earrings? Check out The Upcycle Movement for more inspiration, and to find out about upcoming events. A quick Google search will also direct overseas readers to their local movement. Below are some quick snaps I got of a few of the stalls. Be sure to share any upcycling gems you may have!
The aforementioned radios made from vintage cigar tins and make-up cases. By Bosca Bosca.
A lamp made from old cassette tapes. By Notebooks by Mary.
Festive button decorations.
"Stitches Be Crazy".
Futuristic-style stuffed toys made from old fabrics. By Roundy Squares.
These hand-painted coasters are created from eggshells. By Hatala Mosaics.
All sorts of lovely things by MisMatched Design.
Well that took a whole lot of newspaper! By Hatala Mosaics.
Notebooks made with vintage book covers. By Notebooks by Mary.
After being very good and exercising some uncharacteristic self-control, I rewarded myself with this! I mean, it was only 5 euro and I love it, and you can never have too many weird hangy things, so y'know. By Slaty Craft.