When I think about my propensity to turn old things into new, I realise I’ve been doing it for most of my life. It’s just that there was never a name for it and it certainly wasn’t fashionable. In my childhood and even young adulthood it was born from a necessity to spend as little as possible on craft materials and a desire to make my hand-me-downs look like something new and mine.
When I type upcycle into “Word” it asks me to hyphenate it and it can’t define it in the Thesaurus. (I probably don’t have the most recent version and it might have caught up in the last couple of years). But the on-line Oxford English Dictionary has quite recently included the following entry:
Verb: upcycle [with object]. Adjective: upcycled.
- reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original
It’s great that language, and therefore popular culture, has recognised upcycling. It shows that attitudes to the so called “throw away culture” have definitely shifted, and long may they continue to do so!
Of course, sometimes I’m in danger of becoming obsessed, and I have visions of Tiny House bursting at the seams as yet another bag of scraps and off-cuts is added to the stash. But when is a scrap too small to bother keeping? If you are a machine embroiderer, for instance, even snippets of threads can be scattered onto fusible Vilene and then worked into and over to create a new fabric. A creative mind can probably come up with a way to make something new out of anything eventually. The problem is where to keep the “trash” while the thought process happens. Answers on a postcard please…
And that brings me very neatly to a great illustration of exactly what I mean. Most people receive postcards, greetings cards etc from friends and family over the years. Some do the sensible thing and get rid of them after a period of time, but not a would-be upcycler! I am extremely proud of my business cards, which I also use as swing tags on my finished products. They exactly embody the spirit of upcycling as defined by the dictionary entry above. Plus, they are fun and every single one is unique. They take me a little while to make (especially as I usually end up reading them all before I cut them up!) but I think they are SO worth it. People seem to be intrigued by trying to work out what the writing says from the tantalising glimpses around the edges. And they often spend some time deciding which card to take – do they want a fragmented view of Skegness on the back or a vase of pretty flowers? If I hadn’t stashed my postcards, my business cards would probably have been the same as everyone else’s!
The weather here in the South-Westish of England seems to have settled for now and my little town is functioning quite well. How the population of countries that regularly receive huge dumps of snow must laugh at us when we grind to a halt in four inches or so. But rest assured we are laughing too –we are extremely good at laughing at ourselves! There is nothing a Brit likes better than a story of a gritting lorry stuck in ice or a snow plough caught in a drift. It’s that famous British love of irony!
Oh, and The Accountant did make it through the snow to me! He has put up a new wooden venetian blind at the kitchen window of Tiny House. The blind was far too long and we had to remove over 20 slats. Funnily enough I was looking for a source of very thin wood for a project I have in mind. In the words of Hannibal Smith, I love it when a plan comes together…