Upcycling is the transformation of an object from one use to another. A man’s shirt might become a little girl’s dress, for example. The best upcycling is when trash is transformed into treasure. Crafty people see potential where other people see waste, so the next time you wonder if there might be another purpose for an item that you are about to throw out, take a few minutes to search online first to see what’s out there.
Try a Google search using the words “upcycle”, “reuse”, or “repurpose” with the name of the object to be remade (for example, “tin cans upcycle”). One of the top results will generally be images for your search words, so click on these words to quickly scan for appealing ideas. There may be many ways to repurpose common objects and fewer for less common items. Some of the ideas are brilliant and some are daffy, but these might stimulate ideas of your own.
Many of the top results will be from Pinterest, the visual bookmarking tool. Of course, you can go directly to Pinterest and search using the same search terms that you used in Google. However, the search will generate slightly different results depending upon whether you use “upcycle”, “repurpose”, or “reuse” so be sure to play around a bit. You must have an account to search Pinterest but if you do not, it is easy to create one since all you need is an email and a password. The only personal information that you provide is your name, age, and sex.
Of course, the library has many books featuring upcycled projects and the best way to find these is to search by subject using the words “salvage waste” in either the Classic Catalog or My MCL. Alternately, you can do a keyword search using “upcycling” or “repurpose”.
I love making anything with my hands. So when my six-year-old son asks, “Can we make me an Ant-Man costume?”, my answer is always going to be an enthusiastic, “Yeah we can!”
There was a time when I would take control of these projects. I’d Google images of Ant-Man, obsess about the right fabric and approach, until I found myself sitting at the sewing machine alone, while my son had long since moved on to his Legos.
Now I understand that my job is to dump a bag of fabric out on the table and as my son says, “Just stop freaking out so much about it.” Sure, I help with the sewing machine. He drives the pedal and I keep my fingers out of the way and try not to sweat the fact that the bobbin tension is completely out of whack.
Our new laissez-faire family craft time doesn’t mean I’ve stopped seeking out fresh ideas and inspiration for projects. Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids offers a bonanza of ideas for kids and parents. I just make sure to check my inner Martha when it’s time to get gluing.
Side by Side by Tsia Carson is a great resource for matching projects that parents and kids can do separately but together. One particularly endearing kid-project involves embroidering a leaf. This is a woman who knows about managing expectations!
And when I just want to be inspired, blogger and illustrator Merrilee Liddiard’s Playful is so Anthropologie-beautiful I could weep. But then I’ll get over it, enjoy watching my son dart about in what only started out as an Ant-Man costume, and “just stop freaking out so much about it.”
It’s that time of year when I start thinking about what I could make as holiday gifts. Do you make gifts? Host a cookie exchange?
I have been part of a craft group for more than a decade. We get together about once a month to eat, work on projects and discuss the world. They have inspired me over the years to make liqueurs, cookies, jewelry, cards and photo books. I've created a list of terrific books for any of these endeavors. Hope you like it and are inspired to create.
If you're anything like me, you just looked at the calendar and realized Halloween is less than two weeks away. Eek! What is my kiddo going to be for Halloween?! If you have older kids, perhaps they already have strong opinions of their own, which may be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the idea! But for those of us with toddlers, the task of coming up with a cute costume on the cheap can feel a bit daunting, especially if you want to make it yourself. Or maybe you don't have kids but need to come up with a cool costume for the Halloween party you just got invited to. Never fear, the library is here to help!
When I want to make something, the library has always been my source for knitting and sewing books. Or a book will catch my eye because it combines my two favorite crafts in a new way like Craft Bomb Your Bike.
But I hadn't really used the library as a source of inspiration. Jessica Pigza, rare book librarian at New York Public Library, inspires you to do just that with Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter's Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects.
Part one, finding inspiration at the library, is an overview of how to use your library, different libraries and collections (digital and real), and copyright information. Part two is projects inspired by library research done by designers and artists.
My favorite projects were inspired by a 19th-century geology text book and historical maps. Liesl Gibson's growth chart uses fabric strips for soil profiles. Track a child's growth using pieces of the clothes that no longer fit! Rebecca Ringquist's cartouche embroidery makes a beautiful label for handmade gifts and quilts.
Have you ever made something inspired by a library discovery?
Fall, It took you long enough to come around, but all is forgiven now that you’re here. Let’s not waste another moment. It’s time to break out the yarn stash and get knitting! I know you year-round knitters are out there, but so far my knitting habit is strictly seasonal. It comes on strong only when the temperature drops and holds steady through the winter, though admittedly, it’s been slow to progress.
The first year I did scarves: messy and uneven, with lots of irregularities that I tried to pass off as design features. They were presented to family who had the good sense to politely tuck them out of sight. Next it was hats: ribbed hats, striped hats, much too itchy baby hats, and one unintentionally slouchy Rastafarian hat.
Last year was known in my house as the year of the snood, and so this fall I’ve been determined to make a great leap forward: sweaters. That was until I picked up Short Story: Chic Knits for Layering by Cathy Carron and my great leap has started instead, with an enthusiastic hop.
The belle curve cardigan on page 82 proved to be the perfect middle step between knitting circular accessories and piecing together a sweater with sleeves. It was relatively quick to knit up, has no seams and was knit on circular needles. Most important, it passed the test of withstanding frequent interruptions and a five year old ‘helper’ without resulting in a wooly meltdown.
Carron is known for her knitting books, loaded with innovative patterns, ranging from basics with a twist, to over-the-top looks for more daring souls and this one is no different. So if you’re not quite ready to knit a sweater, but can’t in good conscience bestow another hat upon a family member, check out Carron’s Short Story and she’ll get you halfway there.
Looking for more tried and tested books for the novice knitter? Check out my list.
Recently, I recommended some bead jewelry making books to a patron. This inspired me to write about them.
Beads called my name back in 1992. They beckoned me over to look at them and dress them up with wire, filigree and clasps or earhooks. They are a comfort to me. Hours of joy is bestowed upon me when I spend time with them. A friend taught me how to manipulate wire, beads and findings together to make necklaces and earrings when I visited her in San Francisco.
Over the years I have heard people talk about their bead obsession: they call it an addiction, a hobby, and a disease. I think of it as a healthy hobby. A hobby that lets the mind relax and stay in the present moment while crafting.
I am mostly a jewelry maker that likes to wire wrap. I essentially connect beads together with wire and connectors. I have also worked with crimp beads and soft flex wire (a type of string) and strung beads together. And the newest thing I have tried with beads is bead embroidery which is stitching or hand sewing beads onto fabric or fabric forms.
So of course, I have a list for you if you want to explore the world of beading and wire-wrapping. Have fun!
Feel like moving some paint? Want to splatter some alcohol inks?
One of my current obsessions is learning how to do mixed media visual art. To get started I looked at books by Seth Apter. I took classes at the local mixed media center: Collage and with Serena Barton and Chris Cozen. I also like to follow the blogs of Pam Garrison and Mary Anne Moss for learning mixed media tips and tricks.
To continue learning I started a mixed media club with a couple of friends. We meet monthly. We share and try new products. Basically, we cheer each other on! I have found the best mixed media foundation recipe from the Jenny Doh’s magazine Somerset Studio. Don’t be fooled by the lack of a cover image in our catalog - this magazine is visually stunning. Most importantly I am having fun and I wanted to share some of these resources so you can have fun too!