One of the things about using what you have is that you might not always feel like you have the things you need or you might not know what to make with the seemingly random things you have.
Enter The Art of Upcycling. This fun book by Emma Foss of Y Street Studio is full of inspiration and detailed projects for using wood, fabric, glass and ceramics, plastic, cardboard and paper, yarn and carpet, and metal.
Each chapter includes three to five projects using things you might already have or that you can pretty easily find at thrift stores, in Buy Nothing groups or at yard sales.
There are things here like refinishing a wooden stool and reupholstering a chair, making a clock out of an old paint plate (which I definitely want to do), turning a ceramic figurine into a lamp, using fabric scraps to make a butterfly added to a pillow, or turning an old dog food bag into a tote bag.
While the projects aim to use minimal tools and materials, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re quick or easy or don’t require special tools (though you probably know someone you can borrow tools from if you need them.
While there are some projects in The Art of Upcycling that I would definitely make (the clock mentioned above, a faux-wood grain candle holder made of cardboard, napkins dyed with onion skins), for me the book is more of a reminder that upcycling is an option for a lot of different projects.
Yes, you can paint that glass vase, or that old pair of pants you never wear. You can collage your fabric scraps into something really cool. You can use cardboard in a ton of different fun ways such that it doesn’t even look like cardboard anymore.
The Art of Upcycling Bottom Line
The Art of Upcycling is a fun book full of inspiration and ideas for crafters who want to use what they have to make something better. I might have liked to see a more general introduction to the different materials presented, tips for what to look for if shopping at thrift stores for materials, and entry-level projects (or even just a skill rating on the projects that are included).
Still, if you have a few upcycling projects under your belt already, The Art of Upcycling is sure to inspire you to think about the materials you have in different ways. If you don’t want to make these exact projects, you’ll probably still come away with ideas of projects or techniques you want to try.
About the book: 144 pages, paperback, 25 projects. Published 2023 by Page Street Publishing. Suggested retail price $21.99.