Book Review: Upcycling by Danny Seo

Upcycling book from the library                                          Image:Marie Vonow

I came across an interesting library book earlier in the week. The title, Upcycling:Create Beautiful Things With The Stuff You Already Have, intrigued me and I couldn't wait to flick through the pages. Although I never seem to have enough time to do much craft, I enjoy it when I do make something. Being creative, whether it is writing or art or craft of some description is uplifting and makes me happy. I like the idea of recycling or upcycling things no longer needed into something else, something better.

Upcycling is a bit of a buzz word these days. According to Wikipedia, 'Upcycling, also known as creative reuse is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.'

In his book, Danny Seo explains how to upcycle items such as corks, buttons, old plates, plastic bottles, cassette tape cases, old furniture, shirts, disposable chop sticks, shirts, jar lids and much more.

Seo explains how to make-
  • decorated furniture using lace as a stencil
  • a bath mat from wine corks (you need 500 so I hope you know someone who works in a restaurant or hotel who will save corks for you)
  • doormat from old leather belts
  • door stops from plastic bottles filled with quick drying cement
  • patchwork mat from carpet samples
  • an interesting table top using jar lids
  • a fruit bowl from plastic bananas, and much more.
My favourite project was the Starry-Sky Artwork. I already had a spare set of Christmas type white lights. But I didn't have a suitable painting for the project. This meant I had to head out to the op shops. In the second one I found something that fit the bill. The volunteer charged me $1, can't complain about that.

The piece wasn't something I would usually choose but it looks great now that I have drilled 20 holes in it and poked the lights through.
$1 picture plus lights creates interesting art                             Image:Marie Vonow

Another simple project that appeals to me involves spraying empty cans with wall texture spray to make attractive containers for flowers. I think these containers could also be used to store pens, craft items and the like. Trouble is, I don't need any containers as I have plenty of vases and I use interesting pottery mugs to store pens and pencils. I don't want to make things unless I will use them, don't want to accumulate clutter.

I like the look of the stencilled cabinet decorated by spraying lace or doilies to create an interesting pattern. In my spare room I have a large wooden box where I store blankets that could use a transformation using this technique.

Many of the projects appear easy enough, others not so much so. I enjoyed Seo's style of writing and the bits of information and anecdotes he includes. I am glad I came across this book even though I will only be making two or three things from it. It is interesting to read ideas for craft and upcycling and I think this book would also be a good conversation starter.


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