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Recycling & upcycling

Mamma Cool

As something a bit different, I have created this sweet little Afro-theme ornament. I just love her beaded dreadlocks and bright multi-strand bead necklace.

I have prepared about a dozen kits for anyone who might be interested in a simple sewing and crafting project. All the textiles used are original African printed cotton fabrics which have been recycled for these kits. Personally I associate black people with a vibrant and colourful cultural background, so I hope I have managed to capture this in this little doll.

Click to find listing on Etsy

Bunny project number 2

Here is another idea for all those Spring & Easter elements in the download file. How about an Easter basket or wreath?
So instead of just sticking the various elements — the bunny, the flowers and the eggs — onto a piece of paper, you prepare a circle, similar to the one in my image, and add them there so the ‘basket’ can be hung on the door, or wherever else you think might be suitable.
Just download the pdf and print it off to find all the templates necessary to complete this project. The second download below includes all Bunny elements plus additional instructions for the Easter basket project as shown in the image.


Paper & clips necklace

Hardly rocket science, but quite a fun and simple upcycle/recycle project for schools — granmas with the little ones etc. A little project for #isolationartschool too.

Take a pile of paper clips and clip them together to form a long ‘chain’ necklace — you can do multi-strands if you have enough clips. Then take an old magazine or some other sort of paper (old gift wrap for instance) and cut into strips. With white glue, wrap around each paper clip to cover the open ends and block them together. When it’s all dry you can give a coat of varnish to the paper wraps if you like. Obviously if you used plain paper, the kids can do some drawing on each ‘bead’ before the final seal. A bit sticky and messy, but fun. Here I am in the process of doing a multi-strand with some turquoise coloured wrapping paper I had salvaged.

The paper strips needn’t be any longer than about an inch — depends on the size of the clips of course, but make the strips just long enough to overlap around the ‘height’ of the clips. The width will obviously be determined by the actual length of your clips leaving just enough room for the rounded extremity to be free.

Download the project details here.

Easter bunny project


Just in time, here is a sweet project for the children to do — possibly with a little help — a Spring or Easter project with eggs and bunnies and flowers. A bit of colouring, a bit of tracing, a bit of glueing to make the project just messy enough to keep everyone happy.

My own image here is just an example of the kind of effect you can get by applying the various elements. As you can probably see, i haven’t stuck the grass down completely, but just along the bottom edge so that some of the shapes can be partly hidden behind the grass tops. I believe that you will find most of what you need around the home — colours such as crayons, felt tips or pastels are all fine — and you can use food cartons for the shapes, or recycled wrapping paper if you are looking for something with a pattern for the eggs for instance.

Anyway — your imagination is the only limit, so have fun!

Fat quarter drawstring bag

Fat quarter drawstring bag


Looking for things to do during isolation? Here’s a quick and easy idea for a fat quarter — or any textiles measuring at least 50cm x 50cm you have available to use — to make a drawstring bag to use for all manner of things. Here are just a few suggestions — a shoe bag, a grocery bag, a craft bag, maybe to hold your latest sewing or knitting project. The box corners are optional. Download the instructions here.

Inexpensive storage

Recycled textile industry tubes for improvised storage


For those of you who, like me, are often in a tizwoz about how and where to store all your crafting stuff, how about this storage idea for your knitting needles or paint brushes – or even rulers.

Purchase one of these rigid plastic (or carton) tubes – they are usually sold for storing and/or mailing documents and drawings. In my experience they are cheaper than many of the dedicated items sold for storing needles, and what’s more, they are long enough to store even the longest knitting needles.

Recycled textile industry tubes for improvised storage

If you are really into being eco-friendly, you will seek out discarded textile industry tubes for the same purpose. I have one about 130 cms long which I will be cutting into 2 or 3 sections to hold my long rulers. It has a wider diameter than the plastic tubes I mentioned previously – about 8 cms across. You don’t need to, but can of course decorate these tubes if you like.

Recycle pretty boxes

Recycled box covered with designer paper

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to know that every now and again you find a box – for instance – your hand cream was packaged in a pretty box – and you wish you could find an alternative use for it, even if only to put a small gift inside for someone’s birthday or seasonal gift. But more often than not the thought of attempting to cover it with pretty paper to hide the graphics for the original content puts you off right from the start.

What I do when I come across these boxes is, I carefully peel them apart and use them as templates. If the original carton is a little flimsy, just copy the outline onto some stiffer card, and draw dotted lines where the folds should go – and make notes to remind you how to put the box together and where the glued bits should be. Then when the need arises, I can use cardstock to create a personalised box, maybe adding my own graphics or stamped images or patterns in keeping with the item I want to put inside. For larger templates, it might be necessary to cut the original box into several pieces unless you have access to large cardstock where the whole template will fit comfortably. If you remember in time, it’s useful to take note of the dimensions of the finished box, and even to take a quick snap to remind you of what it looks like. Makes it easier if you are looking for the right size box for a gift at a future date.

A lot of my templates have been transferred onto bits of cardboard boxes and are all ‘filed’ in a ring binder with clear plastic ‘envelope’ pages. The box in the picture originally contained a set of 4 ceramic mugs.

Into card making?

Aluminium canister seals

If you are into card making or die-cutting of any sort, use these canister seals to sharpen up the cutting edges of your die-cutting tools. They are usually found on all sorts of food packaging –- those in the image came from a canister of dried milk, gravy granules and similar. With few exceptions, when you buy die-cutters or punches, hidden away in the instructions somewhere there will be a note telling you to sharpen up the blades by cutting aluminium. Not everyone has aluminium sheets to hand, so these aluminium canister seals are the perfect solution. Just keep them well out of reach of small children of course as they are very sharp, and even more so after they have been passed through punches and die-cutting machines.

Kumihimo braiding

One of my most interesting discoveries in recent months has been kumihimo braiding, a Japanese craft which has been around for centuries. The beautiful braids have been used for all sorts of situations that go from swords to cushion trimmings to traditional clothing. At its best, and probably most refined level, the braiding is combined with beading decoration, and certainly in this part of the world, is frequently used to enhance jewellery. In my research I have also come across some amazing articles of clothing which have been ‘constructed’ using yard after yard of flat kumihimo braiding in an incredible array of colour combinations.

In my own experimentation with the craft, I have been creating mono and multi-colour braids using techniques for 7, 8 and 10 warps for both rounded and flat braids. I have combined the braids with pendants of varying types, and with large round wooden beads which I have painted by hand, and also with semi-rounded wooden beads which I have covered in fabric. Some of the pendants are previously loved pieces of Indian jewellery which I presented in here some time ago.

The results of my endeavours are available on Etsy if you are interested in purchasing any of these ‘one-of-a-kind’ articles.

Satin cord bound eggs

bound-eggs003

Bound eggs [Tutorial]

These pretty bound eggs don’t have to come out just at Easter, and of course, they don’t have to be bound in satin cord. Why not go for the rustic country look with jute string? Another interesting version could be with long skinny strips or recycled fabric — your imagination is your only limit. The tutorial suggests a polystyrene egg, but that can be substituted with tightly wrapped and shaped newspaper, for instance to remain with the recycling theme.
Click on the download button below for instructions.

Made by Hand

When you buy something from an artist, you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experiments. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are not only buying a thing, but a piece of heart, a part of the soul, a moment in the life of someone.

by Giacomo Cinque
'La Sartoria Antica'
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