A Family Legacy

As a child I was unknowingly party to my parents’ obsessive upcycling.  Back in those days it wasn’t a trend, it was a way of life.  The way we could survive – the joys of being poor!  Many of my clothes were ‘upcycled’, how many younger children lived in their older siblings cast offs?  (if only I could find all those photos of me and my sister – her in the clothing – then me in the same a couple of years later!).

I remember coming home from primary school, my father still in bed (he worked nights) and my mother still at work; I was allowed a couple of sweets from a tin while watching Playschool.  The tin is still clear to me today.  My mother had painted an old sweet tin and then decorated it with cut out pictures from greetings cards.  I remember it clearly because it was a complete faff to try and open because the paint was so thick!

Our favourite photograph of us as kids is this one:

Stumpy Flares

Stumpy Flares

These clothes were made from some old denim material my mum had used as curtains – hence the different colours where the sun had bleached the colour out. I’m the shorter one – the younger one.

I’m so proud of my mum for being so resourceful – creating our clothes out of what she had around.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it went horribly wrong.  However she tried and that’s what counted.

In recent years my dad’s upcycling has gone crazy.  In his retirement he tries to entertain my nephew as much as possible with new and exciting toys.  These have included old drain pipes being turned into a gigantic ‘marble’ rally and using magazine pictures as targets for my nephew’s bow and arrow!  The targets themselves were made from old cushions.  I’m always fascinated by what my parents can create – I think my imagination and desire to reinvent objects (as well as my obsessive hoarding) comes from my mum and dad – and I’m SO grateful to them for this.

It seems so strange that to some people this whole idea of ‘upcycling’ is new.  I love to read advice columns about how to do it, and they suggest ‘instead of buying new books, swap with your friends’ – ha ha.  I mean – does that really not occur to people to do that?  Still – at least it’s starting to happen on a larger and wider scale now.  There is just too much stuff out there and there is a real need to re-use and recycle.  The best thing about ‘upcycling’ is that it makes you think not only about what you use and how you use it, but it also inspires creativity in you.  The amount of times I’ve sat looking at items I’m about to throw away and wondered what I could make it with.

So – whilst embarking on this project I want to think about ways of upcycling the following items:

  • Asthma pump casings
  • Old photos that aren’t any good
  • Floppy discs
  • Plastic bottle tops

If anyone has any ideas let me know – I’m all ears 🙂

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3 Comments

Filed under Upcycling

3 responses to “A Family Legacy

  1. I was raised by parents who went through the Depression. Mum still saves a lot of things for reuse – she even washes out plastic bags. I too grew up with secondhand clothing – from my older cousins.

    The old floppy discs can be redecorated and used as coasters.

  2. Maybe use the old photos as postcards? Not sure why they’re not any good.

    • Over exposed, blurry etc. I think because I’m a photographer anything that’s not how I want it to be just looks awful. However I think that I may cover them in vinyl and do a ‘crazy patchwork’ bag from them 🙂 Could be most abstract 🙂

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