Brewtifully Made

Reinventing the Discarded: The Art of Upcycling and Creative Reuse

January 19, 2024 Tracy Dawn Brewer Season 2 Episode 3
Brewtifully Made
Reinventing the Discarded: The Art of Upcycling and Creative Reuse
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered what stories your old denim could tell if it had a voice?  Forgotten garments and threadbare blankets unveil the magic of fiber arts and the thrill of giving new life to thrift store treasures. Join me on a journey where we stitch together the past and present, crafting everything from arm-knitted blankets to trendy upcycled apparel. You'll hear how a simple visit to the thrift store sparked a denim skirt revolution in my wardrobe, and I'll share tips on how to scout for the perfect pieces ripe for transformation. This isn't just a crafting session—it's a renaissance of reinvention, and you're invited to bring your crochet hooks and visionary eye.

But why stop at textiles? This episode we're also threading the needle through the eye of innovative recycling, transforming the mundane into the extraordinary. Imagine bread tabs and bottle caps not as trash, but as tesserae for your next mosaic masterpiece. Together, we'll explore the alchemy of turning industrial scraps into striking sculptures and how a humble coffee bag can evolve into a statement tote. From creative garden fixtures fashioned from antique farm gear to giving a vintage Pac-Man game (part of my doodle today) a new lease on life, we're proving that the potential for creation is only limited by our imagination. So, tune in and be inspired to wield your artistic prowess in ways you've never thought possible.

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Tracy Dawn Brewer

Speaker 1:

Let me know what you think in the comments. Um, john, I don't know who that is. Keep going Autistic license here. Gonna click through here. I get to change my mind if I don't like the first thing. Nope, nope, did a mummy Pac-Man Shredding it on a skateboard? Okay, pac-man doesn't have arms or legs, but I'm gonna have to be very creative with my. I'm here, oh geez, at least I know who that is Talk about. On theme, I wanna talk a little bit about repurposing and recycling creatively. I am loving learning how to crochet and knit. I met up with a friend and her coworkers and it was at a brewery and it was like three or four hours of all kinds of people getting together who wanted to do some kind of fiber art. And I have a slew of yarn in needles and hooks and machines and I just put everything I had in a bag that I could carry easily and went to the event and sat down and literally spent like three hours trying to create a magic circle. I am just a very slow learner when it comes to this crap. I don't know what it is. I had a friend, susan I think I mentioned a few episodes before. She spent like six hours with me trying to teach me how to crochet and I am just really slow at it. I can arm knit. I have arm knitted a blanket and I've just got to transfer that into the actual needles to knit. I'll get there, I know it. It's fun to learn. I love learning something brand new to me and I'm also not opposed to buying a afghan or blanket or a throw that I have found at Salvation Army or Goodwill for like two or three dollars and making a jacket or a piece of clothing from it, because I think it's so comfy and cute, and I have lots of cardigans that I have purchased. So I'm not a bug buying it because I can't make it. But I love recycling like that. Somebody's not going to use it or it may be unraveling a certain place and I can repurpose that. I totally will do it, and I love talking about how you can reinvent things to be new to you and reuse them. And I want to know what is it that you like repurposing, reusing, using as a base for a project, and that's what I want to talk about today. Is that upcycle? I don't even want to call it a trend, because this has been decades. I mean, I have done these things when my kids were little and they're in their 30s and I have revamped clothing. I have redone clothing, I have cut clothing apart. I can remember in the 80s I cut a pair of jeans off and then added the Priscilla curtain ruffles to the base to make a jean ruffle skirt combination and then that kind of became a popular thing for a while. You had the top part of the skirt denim and the bottom part was fabric. And I just remember thinking, I think that when I was like in eighth grade and I didn't have a sewing machine, of course, I had to hand sew things because there wasn't a lot of these sewing machine and I think the kind that we had was like the trundle kind is what we call it, where the singer with a pedal on the bottom. Anyway, I always loved repurposing things into something new, whether it was making doll furniture or if it was making a craft. There is just something so satisfying about upcycling and recycling something and making it unexpected or making it new to you. So that's what I wanted to talk about. What is it that you love to find out in the world that you recycle and reuse? I know I'm in a paint group and there's a lot of people who do this and I love doing it too. You find something that maybe you don't like it. It's a canvas, it's a board. You're getting it for 50 cents because if you try to buy it new, it's going to be 10, $15, $20 or more and you use that as your base. You just over it, you paint over it, you prep it and it's now something that you can use to put your picture on. That is such a fun way to reuse something that you weren't going to use in the state that it was in. That's totally acceptable. Keep an open mind when you're looking in thrift stores or clearance racks of different places that maybe it's not a great look on print, but the base is awesome and it would make a good foundation for something that you're going to create. Always keep that in mind. Always keep that in the back of your head that you can use it for something else. Another thing that you can do is pieces and parts of things can be collaged together to make a picture. I've seen so many people collect the tabs from bread like the little keeper that when you twist the bag and then you flip it, it's a square looking thing in different colors. I've seen people ask on social media if you have pink or yellow or green, send me Then. They make the most amazing mosaics out of found pieces of what people would consider trash. They recycle it into amazing pictures. It's fascinating to me. I love that. Just think of it as if you found a cross stitch pattern. You take each one of those X's and that's a block of color. You start collecting things in that color to put your picture together If it's bottle caps or the bread ties or anything that's that color and then you start layering it together and think of it as a graph and putting that picture together piece by piece in those colors. That's pretty cool. It makes a really good base for a mixed media piece. Maybe you don't cross stitch but boy, those are really great starting points for some mosaic pictures. The further you stand back, the more it comes into focus, because you're not looking at the teeny, tiny details. Close up, you see the details far away and the whole picture comes into view. Think about that. Those are pretty cool. I loved using found things from mosaics. I think that that's neat. I've done a few mixed media pieces that have had beads and paint layers and fabric layers. It's so cool when it's done, putting it all together. Another thing that I love doing is that I'll get discarded books. Maybe something was ruined or pages are missing, and so, instead of discarding it, use that for art, journaling or, again, mixed media pieces. Use those in your layers. Sometimes you can shred the papers and make like the paper pulp, make paper clay. There's a great I mean a great community on Instagram, for example, that share their paper clay creations. You know they're not going to be food safe, but they're great catchalls and they're so cool. You know, just adding water to that and letting it soak in and making the pulp and making the paper out of it. That's really really neat, very easy, but a great way to recycle paper. I just saw one this morning and it was junk mail. I'm like that's pretty phenomenal. So that's a really cool way to recycle and make art, and I did that with paper. It was for an art contest and it had to be mixed media and it was pet drawings. So I built up the art with paper and it was like a sculpture on a board and it was of our dog, and then I painted it. So it turned out pretty cool. So that just takes me into sculptures. I mean there's just so many things you can put together to make a piece of art and it's really cool to see industrial pieces put together. Maybe you've got a great industrial group of businesses that have a lot of discarded parts. Contact them in your area and see if you can take those pieces off their hands and use them to make sculptures. That would still be a dream of mine, if I ever got a studio, would be to work with area businesses that weren't using pieces and parts of things that maybe they manufacture. And you know, having that as a resource for other artists, that they could come and get pieces of metal or pieces of wire or all kinds of really cool things that they could use for their art and recycling that, and I think that that's a really cool thing to find. I love going to restore and looking for those things because they'll take discarded electrical parts and stuff like that and it just makes your sculptures and your mixed media pieces a lot more interesting. And don't even think about the sculpture aspect of it. Maybe it would make a really cool piece to imprint on your art. So if you like to do a lot of painting but you find something with some really cool texture on it, dip that in your paint and then put that on your canvas. Or dip that into like a plaster, like a drywall mud and put it on the canvas to give it some depth and dimension. So they go outside the box when it comes to texture and what you can use to make texture, add texture and it's you know past, just like the 3D sculpture Idea of using, using materials like that. I love also gardening and planting. Anything that you can use to make a little container garden or use for your gardening. That's really cool. That's probably a lot of my Appalachia heritage coming out, because I know a lot of people make some pretty cool planters out of tires. Down home there's some really creative people that have done the old fashioned bathtub and made those gardens and made not even that home. I've seen some great farm equipment turned into water fountains and gardens up here. I just think that's so, so cool. What a neat way to either keep something that has been in your family a long time and you want to repurpose that in a neat way. I love that. I've been to a couple of venues. Once there was a truck and there was a waterfall coming out of the hood. I'm like man, I have the property it's something like that up. It's so neat, it was beautiful, it was a great photo op. Having the ability to repurpose materials into something like that, oh my gosh, that's so creative If you own a business and you have things that you can repurpose and recycle. Friends that have a coffee business and I'm getting the coffee bags from them and I'm going to make totes. I have a few now and I'm like I would love to take all of those and repurpose those into really fun things. So that's one of the reasons I'm trying to get all of my workspace in order, because I've got so many ideas to repurpose things from friends that have businesses and I just I love thinking outside the box and doing stuff with them. So there's just a lot of media that's out there that we don't use anymore or that we would just get bombarded with, like CDs we used to come in the mail to everybody all the time and some of them you just never use. But when you break those apart and they look like disco ball pieces and people use those for mosaics, for planters and decorative things for their garden, it's pretty cool because they're like reflective and so pretty. So that's something that you can do with any kind of, you know, broken media or even broken dishes. You can use that for planters and lay that and then grow out around it. That's really really neat. And I know one of the wineries here. They just did a whole like revamp. I'm anxious to see what it looks like now that I know they redid a bunch of their lighting and they got a. They got a salvage company to take all the steps that they weren't going to use anymore so people could like upcycle and reuse that, which is phenomenal. But they had these really cool lights that had wine bottles like all over them. What a cool thing to do. You know, if you drink wine or if you love, you know, craft beer and you've just got all kinds of bottles you know, repurpose those into lights and cut them and then you can smooth the edges and make like glasses, drinking glasses. My husband wants to do that and I'm all for it because I think it'd be really neat and it's just a really cool craft and you can, you know, make planters out of that and there's just all kinds of things that you can do besides recycling the glass. You know that's awesome too, but you can repurpose those into beautiful fixtures for your garden or your house. I was into pallet wood recycling forever, like we would go to the flooring places and ask for their pallets. It's a lot of work. You have to take all the nails out, you have to cut things apart. It was just a lot of work to recycle pallets. I've seen some amazing pieces from pallets from garden sheds to play grounds. We use pallets to make an outdoor play kitchen for our granddaughter when we were in Georgia once and had a mud sink and a. It was just so cute. I just love that time and she was little to play with that. So I love pallet art. I did boards where we did old recycled maps on pallet boards that we created Just all kinds of things that you can do with wood and recycling and repurposing. Brian also made. It's really strange. When we moved here, like eight years ago, he had made this beautiful pallet wine rack and we had some movers and that's the only thing we can't find. I don't know what happened to that wine rack. We passed it. I swear I thought we put it in our car and it's nowhere to be found. We've never found it. I don't know what happened to it. Good is really cool. He made that out of pallet wood. He's also made me a entry table out of pallet wood and then we took old they were, I guess, sink, basin wire racks and that's the base shelves of it. It's really, really neat. So, yeah, we built that out of pallet and recycled wire racks from a dishwasher or a sink. That's in my entryway because my husband built that. Anything with fabric. Oh my gosh, there are so many cool things. I have so many jackets that are piece quilted and I've made quilt jackets for my daughters and granddaughters. I love making all kinds of things from the tops of quilts that people have either never finished or you just find them all rolled up in a thrift store. It's just such a really cool way to recycle and repurpose old quilts. You can make stuffies out of those. You can cover books and make journals out of those. There's jewelry, you can make clothing, just so many different things out of old quilts and things, blankets and throws. It's like a big thing now. Oh my gosh, I can't remember how many years ago I'd made those jackets and I'm still making stuff out of quilts. I just love finding them, because they're always in a thrift store. There's just an abundance of ones that are damaged. There's some beautiful heirlooms that I wouldn't want to cut apart, but there's some that you can tell. I think you can tell I've gotten all that before, but there's just so many things that you can do with the quilt and the clothing and stuff that you can make and it's just really, really pretty. I love that because then you can enjoy it even more. Those were just some of the things that comes to mind when I think about recycling and repurposing pieces and making it new again to me. I would love to hear what you do. I've had a bunch of I think they were license plates at work and they were going to throw them away. I'm like, no, bring them home, they can make birdhouses and they can make the roofs and things like that. Yes, I love finding new life and things that people want to throw away. I would love to hear what you like to repurpose and recycle. Or maybe you don't even like to do that, that's fine too, but I do, and I love getting ideas and hearing what everybody else likes to do with stuff. I just repurposed my little Pac-Man into a skater A little skater boy. I had some ghosts in the audience and a new Pac-Man up there cheering him on. Oh my well, I am looking forward to the weekend and continuing to work on our basement and cleaning things up, so I have lots of new life in tables and cabinets happening for my spot, so very excited to continue to work on that and I have a lot of pain to do. So I will see you next time. Thanks for joining me and share your ideas. Let me know how. All brutally made, so take care Bye.

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