Taking one thing and changing it to make something else. Something more desirable, pretty or functional. Up-cycling or recycling is a form of creativity that can be simple. Of course it can get complicated too but I’m on a mission to help you keep it simple! Re-cycling and up-cycling appeal to me on a minimalist, healthy, saving the planet kind of way. But it has a bad reputation for being a bit hokey, and sometimes the results look more like junk than treasure, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I think there are two ways to be intentional about up-cyling or recyling and they are:
- Seeing something and imaging it better, glammed up, made-over. Usually considered an Up-cycle
- Looking for something unthought of that will do particular job. Usually considered a Re-cycle.
I take intentional trips to the charity shop to find items that I could change, up-cycle to make more usable or pretty. I found this lamp in a charity shop:
Mask the hardware and the cable where it joined the lamp with masking tape. Using a disposable plastic dust sheet on my lawn, I sprayed the lamp according to the can’s instructions. It took about 3 coats of paint but was touch dry within half an hour between each coat, as you are supposed to recoat within 4 hours or after 36 hours. The shade was reduced because it was dirty, I covered it with some cotton dust sheet fabric. I rolled the shade on the fabric and cut out a slight curved shape with a 5 cm hem top and bottom. I trimmed down the hems and glued them to the lampshade rim just inside the shade. I used small pegs to hold the fabric in place until the glue held.
I added some ribbon trim. Here’s the finished item.
I also found this bookcase in a charity warehouse store,
I painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint and now looks like this:
The second way of approaching upcycling and recycling – looking for something unusual for a purpose that it was not originally designed for, happens usually when you have a problem to solve. You can use items you already own, such as when I needed pen pots and used old golden syrup tins. I’ve used them covered to suit decor and uncovered because I love the iconic British design.
Or a picture frame as an earring holder.
I found some odd curtain pole ends / finials that along with a shallow crate,
I recycled into hooks:
Charity shops or thrift stores can be great resources for large amounts of fabric too. I recycled a double duvet cover into a play tent:
1 tip and 2 questions to ask yourself before you start
If you are looking for a creative project and want to try up-cycling or recycling, here’s one tip and two questions to ask when you don’t know what to look for.
Look at the shape of an item, the structure, the bones, don’t worry about colour or frills, or things that can be changed.
1. How could I make this item look better – more to my taste?
2. Could I find something that will do the job it wasn’t originally intended for but suits the shape I need and might add some quirkiness?
Simple creative changes that can be made when up-cycling or recycling
Colours can be changed with paint – wall paint, chalk paint, spray paint, even dye.
Adding something to an item to make it work/look better. Such as fixings like mirror screws I added to mini drawers to work as handles. Adding a ribbon trim or changing the shade on a lamp. Adding lace to a picture frame for earring holders.
Could I take something away from an item to make this work/look better? Like using the frame of the picture frame without the glass or backing. Unwanted trims or overly fussy details that can be removed.
Up-cycling things that are your friends
The hardware store
So next time you are looking to get creative consider a simple up-cycle or recycle!
This post was part of a series of posts for 15 days of simple creativity. See all the posts for more ideas for getting creative here.