My last weekend in Chicago was spent going to a craft fair and checking out various handmade things made from unwanted items - upcycling in effect. I must say that my first encounter with 'turning junk into funk' in a land of plenty was met with delighted surprise. Some of the creativity on display was rather cool for want of a better word. One stall in particular stood out for me.
Nancy Maize is a jewellery designer making creative pieces like necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings using old watch gears and other items commonly termed as 'junk'. As they are hand-crafted all her pieces are one of a kind and quiet creative. She said that she started of making beaded jewellery for her son's project in school and has now graduated towards using bits of old watches, buckles, drawer handles etc to create artistic, wearable pieces. You can check out her website here.
Upcycling is not a new concept - it can be defined as creative recycling or value-added recycling. Every time you convert a piece of 'junk' into something of value, you are upcycling. At the fair I also met a woman who converted bottle caps into miniature portraits and magnets. Another used zippers to express her creativity by converting them into rosettes for hair-bands. She also used designs on old crockery and cut them out to convert into pendants.
With upcycling, the creative potential is limitless as you can convert, change, modify literally anything into something of value. There is lots of information out there on upcycling and how to convert something that is worn-down, worthless and old into something new and of use. It may even lead to new business ideas or attractive presents for family and friends.
Many of the women at the fair used their upcycled products as a means of additional income . As they always say, "one's man trash, is another man's treasure". I walked away from the fair with a fairly strong impulse to rummage through all my old stuff and get creative.
Photos: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©
Image 1: Necklace made of old watch parts
Image 2: Headbands made of zippers