Upcycling on a lockdown

Aggie turns old wasted materials into new products for her courtyard. 

What is Upcycling? 

Upcycling is creative re-use. It is the process of transforming old waste materials or products into new products.

The main purpose being that it is better for the environment, it is a sustainable practice. With the added benefit of being a creative practice. To start upcycling have a browse around your house to see what you can transform, and have a look at the images below for some inspiration. Upcycling on a lockdown is more of a challenge of course, but that is part of the fun of it…

This last week I have been busy in the sun using old items from around the garden and house to make these products below:

First up, bunting

Pictured to the left is bunting I made out of a blue dress, a cardboard cut out template and sellotape. First things first, find an old piece of cardboard and ideally a ruler (you don’t need one) and draw your triangle or alternative shape. Place your old top/material over the template and cut your shape. Once you have several of your triangles, space them out evenly on your line of string, ribbon, or in my case, old phone cable and wooden pole. Then use your double sided tape to stick them on. I used regular sellotape and folded it over.

This worked better for the pink bunting because I had wrapped bumble bee wrapping paper round a bamboo pole which helped it stick to the tape better.

A frame in fabric

Here I have taken an old frame found in the basement and transformed it into this piece. You may not place it in your living room, but it’s fun for a garden, or festival decorations.

To make this I got an old bright top and cut strips of the fabric and placed each piece layering over the other and held them there with white pins. The frame already has an old wirey cable hanging off of it for hanging.

Glass vases or jars

Hidden in the corner of the courtyard was this old glass vase, covered in soil, I dusted it off and placed some flowers in it. I then had some old pens which I used to draw a lady on it, alongside some flowers and positive messaging for members of the public to view walking by on their daily walk.

Signs of positivity

There’s no denying that some days this pandemic can get you down, so I thought it would be nice to write some positive messaging on materials. Here you can see a rectangular stone I have written ‘Don’t worry be happy’ on, with a flower drawn above it. Simple but effective, I had a few people walking by and commenting on it that day, it’s nice to be able to brighten someones day, even if only for a moment.

Making rainbows

Another sign of positivity, rainbows. A symbol which has been prevalent throughout this lockdown in the UK. A symbol of joy, hope and peace.

To make this rainbow I took an old piece of curved wood and wrapped old tops, and a Hawaiian style neck piece around the wood. The neck piece I found in the basement, and the tops were pieces I had left over from previous objects. I then held the fabric there by tying them to the wood with the thin straps of a top, like you would a shoelace.

In summary, I had a lot of fun making these pieces, I love working with my hands and transforming spaces so this was a perfect pass time. I am very blessed to have a large courtyard with lots of old materials lying around to use, but there is always something to be made, and the more challenging, often the more fun the practice is. I hope this piece has given you some inspiration to go and be sustainable.

Are you into Upcycling? Send us your photos on social media.

Support more young people to have their voices heard

Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.

We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.