Tuesday, December 15, 2015

INSPIRATION A to Z - (U - Upcycle)

This post is the twenty-first in a blog series where I’m exploring various aspects of INSPIRATION. When I chose INSPIRATION as my word for this year, my first thoughts were about finding, acting on and (in some cases) limiting INSPIRATION. I also knew I wanted this word to motivate me not only in my scrapbooking and crafting but also in my physical, spiritual and intellectual goals. During my FUN year last year, I published a two-week series entitled Where Does My Inspiration Come From?, which looked at the many different sources of INSPIRATION specifically for scrapbook layouts. However, in this series, I’ll be sharing a word for each letter of the alphabet (from A to Z) that relates to INSPIRATION along with my random and in-depth thoughts on that word and the various ways it relates to INSPIRATION in our lives.

U is for Upcycle

Upcycle is defined as "
reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original" or "to process (used goods or waste material) so as to produce something that is often better than the original." When we Upcycle an item, we're basically refashioning that item into something new, which is normally better or at least of the same quality as the original.

It's amazing how much INSPIRATION is available for ideas for using old materials to create something new - a recent search for Upcycle projects on Pinterest makes it clear this is a popular topic.

While the term Upcycle has become a common term in the past few years, upcycling has actually been around for a long time. For example, feed sacks were turned into dresses and linens during the first half of the twentieth century. I've recently subscribed to Uppercase magazine and am currently enjoying Issue 24, which actually has a piece of original feed bag material on the front cover. (See it there - the little blue square on the right.)

(As an aside, this magazine is filled with INSPIRATION for a variety of creative pursuits. Each issue has a theme - so far I've enjoyed the issues on weaving & quilting, stamp collecting & perforations, and calligraphy & lettering. The subscription is a little bit expensive [approximately $58 for 4 issues], but it is definitely a quality publication. However, you can sign up for free content through the editor's weekly email.)

I've completed several Upcycle projects over the past few years, including a sweater wreath using INSPIRATION from a magazine article, a folded Christmas tree inspired by a class at our local library, and a travel journal from an old Moby Dick book using INSPIRATION from an online class. Earlier this month I attended the Santa's Workshop DIY class at our local library and enjoyed another Upcycle project - turning old socks into a cute snowman!

I also completed an Upcycle project of my own by turning junk mail catalogs and old maps into envelopes that I'll be using for happy mail in the coming year!

In summary, there are many opportunities to Upcycle and lots of INSPIRATION and ideas for projects and ways to Upcycle.

Have you completed any Upcycle projects recently? Please share your thoughts on Upcycle and INSPIRATION in the comments.

Click HERE to see all my INSPIRATION A-Z posts, or click a letter below to see individual posts.

A(Art)   B(Baking)   C(Creativity)   D(Drawing)
E(Experiences)   F(Finishing)   G(Goals)   H(Hiking)
I(Immersion)   J(Journaling)   K(Knowledge)
L(Learning)   M(Movement)   N(Nurturing) 
O(Organization)   P(Planning)   Q(Quiet)   R(Reading)
S(Style)   T(Teaching)   U(Upcycle)   V(Vacation)
W(Work)   X(Xciting)   Y(Yuletide)   Z(Zzzzzs)


  1. Your envelopes look fantastic!

    My Mum used to talk about all the upcycling they had to do during the war. It really got my imagination going to hear about blankets being turned into coats. I wonder how inventive I might have been if I'd had to do it.

    A great word to choose

  2. Before we entered the consumer driven throw-away era, literally everything was saved and reused. When a shirt was no longer wearable, the buttons were removed and added to the "button box" (I inherited my grandmother's) and whatever pieces of the material were still intact were saved to be used in quilting, stuffing, or as rags. Old jelly jars were recycled as drinking glasses or storage in the garage for nuts and bolts and screws. I know that the reason everything was saved is because people literally couldn't afford to buy new stuff all the time and while I'm not advocating post-war depression, I do miss that simpler way of living! And you know me... I upcycle as much as I can!

  3. Can I just say what a lovely photo of you that is? Your series has been most enjoyable, and yes, upcycling is a favourite here too. My mum was brought up in the country on a farm where the meal sacks were washed and bleached and reused for aprons and tea towels. I am sure that's where her enormous creativity came from. i am off to click on your links and revisit your great projects.

  4. My grandfather raised chickens, and I remember going to the feed store to buy chicken feed. It came in cotton bags and he'd let me pick out the patterns. I think my grandmother used them to make dish towels.

  5. We up cycle furniture quite a bit in this house! Also, love the snowman!


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