Thursday 28th May 2020,
Frontiers Magazine

Turn waste into wearables at home

Howie Firth May 10, 2020 Arts & Crafts, Spring Issue 2020

There is a kind of poetry in the creative process of transformation of unwanted, pre-loved and discarded materials and giving them a new life.

BRACELET FROM FABRIC SCRAPS

Old T-shirts, fabric scraps, discarded plastic … Now’s an ideal time to go through cupboards and wardrobes and boxes – but hold back before you throw them out. It’s not just because of the environmental impact of discarded clothes and plastic – it’s also that it’s surprisingly possible to reimagine the various materials and transform them into something new and stylish and distinctively your own.

T-shirts can be cut into yarn to make bracelets, headbands and even macramé bags, and denim can be drawn into feathers. But other material can be brought in as well, from unlikely-looking sources: plastic pieces from either milk containers or plastic bottles for necklaces, discs from inner cycle tubes for earrings – even bubble wrap can be manipulated and heat-fused into delicately-shaped elements for jewellery. And when plastic bottles tinted with colour are cut into shapes, the plastic has a glass-like quality and can be turned into a range of creative designs, from bracelets to necklaces.

NECKLACE FROM MILK CONTAINER NECKLACE FROM MILK CONTAINER
BUBBLE WRAP NECKLACE

 

T-shirt fabric has properties that make it an excellent source of upcycling potential. It is jersey fabric, a woven material that frays very little and easy to cut and does not need hemming; and stretching it only makes better.

One of the simplest methods involves cutting an old T-shirt into strips, first laying it down flat, and then cutting out strips horizontally and stretching them to create a yarn-like material that can be used in various projects – from keyrings to woven bracelets and macramé handbags.

MACRAME BAG FROM PRE-LOVED T-SHIRTS
FROM PRE-LOVED T-SHIRTS TO WOVEN BRACELET WITH BUTTON FROM PRE-LOVED T-SHIRTS TO WOVEN BRACELETS- SQUARE KNOT

 

Practical guidance can now come direct to your home with a new series of online workshops from the Going Nova group in Moray. It’s part of a project supported by Moray LEADER to share techniques of upcycling with groups in the region.

Lively workshops have taken place in Buckie at the Phoenix Centre and Moray Reach Out, whose large display windows also hosted an exhibition the SEA and THE LAND of two lifesize figures clad in spectacular costumes made from discarded materials, created in collaboration by artists Selena Kuzman (costume designs) and Caroline Bury (headpieces). Current restrictions have put further public workshops on hold, and so they are moving online.

 

COSTUME THE LAND
COSTUME-THE SEA
Costume no 1-web res-02
Costume no 2-web res-02

The online workshop series starts with some brief introductory background from artist and project leader Selena S Kuzman.

(https://www.facebook.com/goingnovaprojects/videos/274796686857930/)

T-shirts Transformed!” is the motto for the first series of online workshops, which shows how to turn pre-loved T-shirts into new-loved jewellery. It demonstrates how T-shirt material makes excellent yarn, with springy new life, ready to be woven or knotted in macramé style.

We decided to go out into the garden for this next video in the T-shirts Transformed series, and then halfway through almost regretted it as a cold wind blew and dark clouds loomed overhead. But we persevered and the clouds moved away for just long enough for us to finalise it. In this video we show how to use square knots to make a macramé bag from T-shirt yarn.

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The project is supported by Moray LEADER, whose aims include helping Moray to move towards a low carbon economy.

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About The Author

Howie Firth

Dr Howie Firth is a writer and physicist from Orkney, with a deep interest in history and philosophy. He is director of Orkney International Science Festival.