It’s that time of year, when we start looking to new life after hiding away for the winter…the snowdrops and crocuses are popping up all over the place, little lambs will soon be a frolicking and a skipping through the fields and the evenings just get longer and longer. Spring is my very favourite time of the year. It’s when I look ahead, start new projects, dust off the gloom and cold of winter and Salute the Sun (there I go again with my yoga-obsession!).
So with this in mind, I thought I’d write a bit about one of the more fun little creative pastimes that I like to indulge in…bringing new life to old things – especially textiles. It must be something to do with a childhood spent watching those post-war upcycling and recycling pioneers from Wimbledon Common: The Wombles.
Often outgrown or now unloved, we all have something that languishes in the back of a cupboard or bottom of a drawer…sad and sorry…It was once the star attraction…but now there it sits – feeling old and thinking it’s life is over; that it’s resigned to a future in the dark..but NO!..what if we take these once-loved items, throw a bit of magic in their direction and give them a new, exciting future?
I think this is an especially lovely thing to do with those little children’s clothes…the favourite pieces…the special party dress…the t-shirt worn on a first holiday…the items that have a sentimental attachment…a story behind them or just remind you of the little one(s) that are growing up way too fast.
So here’s a quick look a little Upcycling Project I undertook recently. Taking one little much-loved but out-grown embroidered chambray dress and turning it into something functional and pretty – to be used and admired again. The Caterpillar becomes a Butterfly.
|Work in Progress: Creating a flat piece of fabric|
|Work in Progress: Removing the pockets|
|Add some coordinating lining and trims and Ta-Dah: New things|
Now, my upcycling attempts are hugely small-fry in comparison to those who have made it their life’s work. I’ve mentioned some of these guys in previous posts, but check out the work of these artists who take, what is essentially someone else’s ‘rubbish’, and with their creativity and imagination, turn it into something amazing:
Paul Firbank and Lizzie Gosling at The Rag & Bone Man, who transform vintage machinery and modern scrap into bespoke lighting, furniture and accessories. Then there’s Kirsty Elson, who takes washed-up driftwood and other bits & pieces found at the beach near her home in Cornwall and produces the most intricate little houses and other models. Leamington Spa-based, Rachel David – Textile Anarchist – works her magic on vintage fabrics. making them into new clothing and accessories, and finally the family team at Ruby Rhino up-cycle vintage furniture and can teach you how to, too at their Staffordshire workshops. These are just a (very) few of the UK’s up-cycling experts but there are many many more artists out there doing amazing things with previously unwanted ‘rubbish’.
So, next time you’re about to reluctantly chuck something you once loved, into the bin or take it to the tip…have a good long look at it….maybe it might just have the potential to be a Butterfly too?