Friday, 7 January 2011

Get greener - upcycle!

Nothing gives me more crafty pleasure than re-using things and giving them new life. Besides, it makes my life and the life of my customers greener! And on top of this - I spend much less money on my supplies if I buy second-hand, or do an exchange for my products and thus can keep lower prices of my items :)

What can be better?

Use material that are already there. Get vintage and old items and make new. Get ideas from books on handmade that are plentiful in every library.

In this post I will give you some ideas on where to get alternative supplies for your craft and what to do with your own unnecessary supplies.

1. First of all, check vintage and second hand shops in town - many of those offer amazingly cheap old and tired items. Give them another chance! Moreover, in many second-hand shops one can find leftovers of yarn and other supplies - use it :)
This ring is crocheted with red yarn I have bought in a charity second hand shop and is embellished with a turquoise bead from a vintage necklace.
Old and tired wool sweaters can be easily felted into beautiful new accessories. Just as tiny bit of unwoven wool can make a stunning felted flower.

Check out the tutorial of TonyaUtkina on how to create a felted flower
Moreover, youtube is full with video-tutorial on what to make out of old woolen sweaters.

2. Find soulmates! I regularly post on a local blog an advert saying that I exchange my products for a bunch of old jewelry, even broken or torn (anyway I will upcycle it), leftovers of yarn etc'. You won't believe it, but MANY people are happy to get rid of things they do not need - especially if they get a handmade designed item in exchange. Besides local online forums you can find handmade clubs in town or designs faculty in university or college and simply put paper advert on their board. Believe me, you will be surprised by result!
That's the treasure I got lately from such exchange for only one of my necklaces.

That red broken necklace is made of real red corals. Good bargain, isn't it? :)

3. Revise your old stocks.
Every craft artist has a bunch of old supplies, those that are not colorful enough, shining enough, those that cannot be incorporated into any of your designs, or those little bits that are simply left over and are not enough for a new design. What do you do with them?

- Change them!
Color them, crochet around them, reshape them :)
I have a lot of amazing buttons. Many of them are absolutely unique and vintage, other more common and dark.

In my designs I mainly use happy colors, so brown and black buttons will have hard time finding their way to my necklaces. But I still love them, and I have an idea what to do with them - I will crochet around them and make necklaces out of them. Just wait and see!

- Exchange them!
Yes, your boring leftover supplies maybe a real treasure for someone else. Find your local fair and forum - give advert that you want to get rid of them and see what people can offer you in exchange - their leftovers can be a real find for you :)
- Sell them!
yes, as simple as that. List them in your shop and sell.
If you have them for couple of years, you haven't used them until today and still don't have any idea of how you will use them - get rid of them!

- Combine the leftovers.
do you have a bunch of old beads of different size and color! paint them in one color or crochet around them with similar yarn - and then they will make a nice necklace or other accessory. Their different size will only add uniqueness!

In this particular necklace most of the beads come from different other necklaces. Even the yarn I used to crochet over is of different shade. And yet, this necklace is charming, isn't it?

As I said, I love seeing old and sad things getting new life and starting sparkling again.

I hope this can inspire you to reuse and recycle. You can both make crafts and make the world better. So why not simply doing that? :)


  1. Very inspiring article. Great ideas about recycling. You are very creative combining materials and giving them another life!

  2. Great advises! thank you for sharing! I have way to much leftovers at home so perhaps I will come up with something recycled very soon! :)

  3. great article! inspiration all around!