#RecycleUpcycle #ThingsToDoAtHome #StayAtHome #BeKind
- Tips and Easy-to-Do at home art and crafts activities with children or in solitude at home for these moments of self-isolating, suggested by artists and fashion designers.
- Mending and recycling clothes have been proven to have therapeutic benefits for mental health, saving money and protecting the environment.
- Artists and Designers upcycle and reuse materials as part of their practice for a more compassionate and sustainable society.
In a highly consumerist and throw away culture, Artists and Fashion Designers are leading the way in creating beauty while preventing unnecessary waste ending in landfills. From sculptors to fashion designers, from painters to other art practitioners, a revolution is fast gaining pace for a more community-based society.
D-I-T (Do-It-Together) takes centre stage in the avant-garde of art-making and they are sharing tips with you to do it at home. Contact details of each artist are enclosed if you need more guidance about a specific activity. Art activities have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and increase self-esteem. 
Maria Chenoweth, CEO at TRAID, says: "This is a time when many of us will be in our homes for long periods of time. How do we stay motivated, positive and optimistic, while continuing to create a more sustainable relationship with our clothes? Let’s start with our wardrobes. Take stock of your clothes. Decide what to keep, repair and pass on. TRAID advocates learning a few repair basics – like sewing missing buttons or mending a small hole. Why? According to WRAP, extending the life of our clothes by just an extra nine-months reduces its carbon, water and waste footprints by 20 – 30%. Keeping our clothes in use with a bit of mending activism is one of the most powerful things we can do to minimise the environmental impact of our clothes. At the same time, repair also involves us in tactile processes which are both creative and productive, and research shows that craft-based activities can be an important way to boost mental well-being by helping to alleviate anxiety, depression and loneliness.
We are also acutely aware that many parents and carers are home schooling for the first time. TRAID is providing free online resources which creatively explore the socio-environmental impacts of our clothes, and what we can do about it. Our toolkit is packed with online lesson plans, videos, activities and presentations, and designed to be used by both formal and informal educators. While our starting point is clothes, ultimately, these resources aim to build the knowledge and agency needed to change our way of living in the long-term to protect our living planet and its citizens. "
- Rob Higgs, based in Cornwall, is a mechanical sculptor, automata maker and inventor. He designs and makes mechanical sculptures, contraptions and eccentric machines, largely using found materials such as: old gears, cart wheels, chains and mechanical items found on old farmyards, in boatyards and scrapheaps. He got into making contraptions as a child as he loved tinkering with my dad’s and grandad’s old tools and gadgets. He has exhibited worldwide and has permanent public exhibits around the UK, featured by the BBC, as well as in numerous private collections and International galleries around the world.
Rob Higgs says: “It is now really obvious to most people that reusing stuff is the solution, but 20 years ago when I started doing this as art, it was low in the public consciousness, so I really wanted to show people the amount of wonderful material still being sent to Scrapyard. Also it is a treasure trove of resources that’s nearly free. My next project is to make comedy anglerfish costumes out of sea waste, and to make a giant pedal power mining contraption ridiculing deep ocean mining’s madness. Made from old bikes and mobility scooter and tractor parts.”
DIT (Do-It-Together) activity suggested by Rob Higgs.
How to make your own change reaction machine:
- Make as long a series of events as you can, that knocks or bumps or rolls a ball or creates a chain reaction by catapulting things off knives or forks or tipping over precarious piles of books and saucepans to move the chaos from one side of the room to the other.
- It could end in tipping a big precarious pile of recycling and household objects down the stairs or over one of your siblings.
- Or out of a window into your garden and continue across the garden from there.....
- Check YouTube for chain reactions for inspiration in my web: www.youtube.com/higgsrob
Video interview: https://vimeo.com/128352427
The Stockton Flyer by Rob Higgs. Photo Alex Liivet
2. Lorenzo Belenguer, a Spanish artist based in London, who reuses discarded metal objects found in skips and construction sites to make minimalist sculptural paintings. He then applies chunks on oil paint in red, yellow and blue directly to metal objects like a painter paints on a canvas. Belenguer is constantly focused into the reclaiming also into the reclaiming the place of the humans into the natural ecosystem as ancient cultures perfectly knew. His work has been exhibited or performed at spaces such as the Serpentine Galleries, Tate Modern and the Venice Biennale.
Lorenzo Belenguer says: “If you see a tall man speaking with a funny accent scavenging a skip; that’s probably me. It’s incredible how much beauty gets thrown away. The forms, the shape, the tonalities of rusted metal is just overwhelmingly beautiful and I want that brought to the attention of the general public and make something spiritual and calming”.
DIT (Do-It-Together) activity suggested by Lorenzo Belenguer.
How to make your own metal sculpture:
- Find any piece of rusted metal in your back garden, in a backyard or in a skip. This counts as your once a day exercise.
- Wash it thoroughly and let it dry
- Appreciate the shape and the beauty of the object.
- Start applying chunks of paint in a spontaneous way. I use oil paint in yellow, red and blue, but you can use acrylic paint (easy to clean) and in any colour that you have and like.
- Be wild. You can also add plasteline or plaster. Let it dry.
- Set up your own exhibition and become an art curator.
Video interview: https://youtu.be/y-BK8rsirfU
Mini-Object 28 - Oil paint in primary colours on rusted metal held by plaster from rusted nails found in a construction site - Lorenzo Belenguer
- Katherine Soucie, a Canadian fashion designer, based in London, award winning artist and designer who specializes in transforming textile industry waste into new textiles, clothing and sculptural forms. Her journey into fashion began as a child when she used to visit second hand stores in Montreal while visiting a much older sister who was studying to be a jazz musician at McGill University. The slight imperfections in these garments inspired her to learn to sew which resulted in her redesigning and/or altering these garments to fit her 8 year old body.
This reflection arrived after Soucie visited several landfills on a regular basis as a result of a boyfriend at the time who used to transport waste from the City of Toronto (Canada) to Michigan state (USA). The impact of this experience not only informed her awareness of materials and consumption in our environment but it empowered her to want to make a difference. Every single of her fashion collections are zero waste.
Katherine Soucie explains why reusing textiles, zero waste and community building is so important to her: “My childhood has an important influence on how I would look to approach fashion moving forward. It was during this time that I discovered how clothing could be a means of cultural expression. Being the youngest of 5 children from a mixed heritage (Mum is British and Dad is French Canadian/ German/First Nations) I grew up in an environment that taught me to appreciate and value resources and skills in a way that was sort out of rhythm with the rest of my peers. This was partly due to the fact that my parents were old enough to be my grandparents (Mum grew up in London during WWII and my father during the depression in Canada)
The beauty of D-I-T (Do-It-Together) is that it empowers creativity - individually and collectively. This creativity is a key ingredient and creates a consciousness that allows us to move forward in ways that are destined to result in the social change we all are seeking to achieve for a better society”.
DIT (Do-It-Together) activity suggested by Katherine Soucier.
How to transform a t-shirt
This tutorial is designed to spark creative possibilities into how we can (re)imagine that t-shirt that has an unsightly logo, stain or hole that requires transformation or repair. What you will end up with is an original design that will amuse and inspire others to take action!
COLLECT THE FOLLOWING SUPPLIES:
T-shirt with a logo or stain that you want to remove
Scrap knit t-shirt fabric (can be cut up from another t-shirt that has a stain or hole or harvested from another knit fabric (dress, socks, etc.)
- Pencil or pen
- Sewing thread and needle or Sewing machine
Lay your t-shirt and smooth it flat on a table. Use a pen or pencil draw around the logo or stain you wish to remove. Allow the abstract shape you produce to spark your imagination! Using your scissors cut and remove this section or sections if you have more than one stain or hole you want to transform. ake sure you only cut through the one layer and not both layers of the t shirt.
Using your abstract shape as a template, lay this form onto the scrap fabric you wish to use. As you trace around your form onto your fabric, make sure you add an extra 2.5 cm (minimum) around the entire template before cutting. This extra cloth or seam allowance is needed for the next reverse appliqué technique you will be using as part of your t-shirt transformation and redesign.
Note: if you are doing more than one abstract shape or are filling in some holes please follow the same approach ( cutting extra around the form or hole so that you have enough cloth to stitch with.
With your cut piece(s) of new cloth, lay it underneath the pin to secure. Try not stretch out the cloth of the t-shirt during this process or your cut out may not fit correctly.
- Once pinned into place, with the use of sewing thread and a needle or sewing machine you are now ready to begin the process of stitching your new design. This process is known as reverse appliqué. Whether by hand or by machine stitch the two layers of fabric together using a simple running stitch or straight stitch on a machine. You can get creative with this and use different colour threads to as a design feature to highlight the stitching you are using. You can also do not just 1 but perhaps 2 rows of stitching around your design to stabilise and cement your materials together. If you are hand sewing, you can also use embroidery thread if this is on hand to create a different design line quality.
Repeat the stitching step if you have removed more than one logo, stain or holes in your t-shirt. Once you are done you now have an original up cycled and recycle design t - shirt that not only tells your story but that of the textiles you own!
Note: For further inspiration, I would suggest looking at other explorations of reverse appliqué if you wish to explore something a bit more complex. For example, “ t-shirt reverse applique”.
Video interview: https://youtu.be/Q-56BIJX2ws
Hosiery Wall by Katherine Soucie
- Karina Messer, an Austrian designer and bodywork therapist, based in Hampstead, London. A severe injury left her unable to pursue her dance career and forced her to re-invent her life and work. She taught herself to work with leather, but strictly only uses recycled leather and off cuts. Her latest collection of bags and accessories came from a discharged leather sofa which belonged to her neighbours. It was given to her as a final option before being sent to landfill. She raised to the challenge and designed a collection of accessories.
Karina Messer adds: “I don’t want to contribute to a cruel or wasteful industry, but rather raise awareness how much of what we use can be recycled with a little imagination, innovative ideas and creativity. As long as I can remember I have always been opposing thoughtless throw-away habits encouraged by ruthless capitalist exploitation of natural resources and cheap labour, creating ever increasing waste in an ever growing economy designed to prioritise profit over people care, earth care and fare share. This present economic model is not just irresponsible but frankly destructive, hence mad. Sustainability and community care, I believe, must be a top priority.”
DIT (Do-It-Together) activity suggested by Karina Messer.
How to make a leather or paper flower:
- Making leather flowers with any pieces of recyclable leather that can be found. Please don't cut up your daddy's expensive work bag or your mum's boots! In case there just isn't any leather to play with, even better, you can use old paper, either newspaper, magazines or any wrapping, labels etc, even cardboard from your last amazon delivery.
- Draw with a pencil a shape of a daisy or other flower with a diameter of anything between 3 and 6cm. 5 or 6 petals usually look nice, or 4 bigger ones like a clover. If it doesn't look very even, you can just correct it.
- Then, draw again the same shape but a little smaller, and a third one a little bigger than the first one. When you are happy with the shape and they are more or less the same just slightly different sizes, cut them out.
- Depending on what material you used, if it's paper, you can paint it with colours, plain solid colours or patterns of your choice - be creative.
- Then you make a hole in the middle of each shape, you can use a needle or a nail, safety pin or anything like that. You can use an old button or a bead to put in the middle with a piece of string. Or you can make 2 holes in the middle of each of the 3 cut-outs, then you would have the bead in the front and can make a knot at the back to hold them all together. You can also decorate them with little bits you can find in your crafts box, maybe a little glitter or little pieces of wool etc. You could also use a plastic milk bottle or any other, be careful though, when you cut a plastic bottle the edges are sharp!
- Use your imagination, you will be surprised how many reusable materials and objects you will find, and well done for recycling them instead of just throwing them in the bin!
Email address: email@example.com
Karina Messer - Bag made from leather reclaimed from a discarded leather sofa
- Miles Glyn
Miles Glyn, based in East London, has worked full time on the Extinction Rebellion (XR) project since its inception. Using his background as a craftsperson and fine artist, but applied to creating social change by working cooperatively, essentially the opposite of fine art practice. He works in XR's Art Group designing and guiding the 2D making, previously he worked with Clare Farrell on the #Bodypolitic project, with the intention of reclaiming the human body as a place for radical creative expression.
Miles Glyn says: “I try not to buy anything, I like nothing better than to find some weird old broken thing and repurpose it into a new use, or repair it. We live in a world drowning in stuff, much of it orphaned, since the creation of anything impacts the environment we need to find a way of living using what we have. My next project is a Jacket with way softer messaging. I already had blocks such as kindness, tender, empathy, joy, care, grief, truth, love. Something to wear during these difficult times.
When we come out of this apocalypse we need to remake the world into its best possible version, rather than going back to "business as usual", which for most of humanity is a living hell. We need all the communities we can get right now.”
DIT (Do-It-Together) activity suggested by Miles Glyn.
How to mend your jeans:
1. The key is unpicking the outside leg seam, but not the bottom ( the ankle area), only unpick what you need to spread them out flat
2. Copydex on a patch from denim or anything, no folding over to make seams, just flat, if no copydex then pins, or pritt stick, or kids glue. I would patch on the outside and make it a bunch larger because all the fabric around will be worn and weak too.
3. Zig-zag over the top, either systematically or haphazard, using a good , but bright colour !!! if you have no machine then bung in some stitches by hand, you can always get hold of a machine in easier times.
4. DONE the start of your "Psychedelic Tramp Look" has begun.
Bodypolitic jacket by Miles Glyn: ex-prison wear from clothing recycler, reshaped and decorated in Pro-Gaff tape, sewn on and embroidery Prison symbols (broad arrow symbol), bought patches. COMPASSION, HUMILITY, FRUGALITY (Dao De Ching), EMPATHY, EQUALITY.
NOTE TO EDITORS
ABOUT ROB HIGGS
Rob Higgs is a mechanical sculptor, automata maker and inventor. He designs and makes mechanical sculptures, contraptions and eccentric machines, largely using found materials such as: old gears, cart wheels, chains and mechanical items found on old farmyards, in boatyards and scrapheaps. He has exhibited worldwide and has permanent public exhibits around the UK , as well as in numerous private collections and international galleries around the world. Web: www.robhiggs.co.uk
ABOUT LORENZO BELENGUER
Lorenzo Belenguer is a Spanish visual artist and curator, based in London. His practice as an artist is constantly focused into the reclaiming: be it objects like discharged rusted metal into the gallery spaces and copies of traditional European paintings as symbols of imperial power. Also into the reclaiming the place of the humans into the natural ecosystem as ancient cultures perfectly knew. Previously, Belenguer run a community art gallery In London for seven years and a project for London 2012 called Testimonies. His work has been exhibited or performed at spaces such as the Serpentine Galleries, Tate Modern and the Venice Biennale. He supports the power of the Arts to communicate ways to move into a more compassionate and loving society as we are witnessing in the current pandemic. Web: www.LorenzoBelenguer.com
ABOUT KATHERINE SOUCIE
Katherine Soucie is a Canadian/UK artist + designer who specializes in transforming textile industry waste into new textiles, clothing and sculptural forms. She studied Fashion Design in Toronto, Canada before furthering her studies in Textiles and Visual Art in Vancouver. Since 2003, her experimentation with textile industry waste, specifically hosiery, has resulted in an extensive body of work that addresses her interest in process, transformation and material activism. The intention of her work is to explore forms of visible mending that reverse engineer modes of production where handcraft applications are combined with obsolete/discarded sewing technology as a way to create new approaches and meaning in making textiles. Web: www.sanssoucie.ca
ABOUT KARINA MESSER
Each of these craft items is handmade and designed by Karina Messer in the UK. An experienced bodywork therapist (massages and movement), Karina was also a dance teacher and workshop facilitator. A severe injury has left her unable to pursue her dance career and forced her to re-invent her life and work. She taught herself to work with leather, but strictly only uses recycled leather and off cuts.
“I don’t want to contribute to a cruel or wasteful industry, but rather raise awareness how much of what we use can be recycled with a little imagination, innovative ideas and creativity.” She has also been studying and is now a professional photographer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT MILES GLYN
Miles Glyn has worked full time on the Extinction Rebellion (XR) project since its inception. Using his background as a craftsperson and fine artist, but applied to creating social change by working cooperatively, essentially the opposite of fine art practice. He works in
XR's Art Group designing and guiding the 2D making, previously he worked with Clare Farrell on the #Bodypolitic project, with the intention of reclaiming the human body as a place for radical creative expression.
TRAID is a UK charity working to tackle and solve the problems caused by producing, consuming and wasting clothes. Sourcing more of our clothes second-hand is the core of its work. TRAID provides the public with reuse services including clothes banks, free home collections and charity shops while educating for sustainability to empower people to become agents of change. Funds raised by reusing clothes are committed to global projects to establish more sustainable production and safer fairer conditions for people working in the supply chains making our clothes – from supporting organic cotton production to stopping child and bonded labour. TRAID’s vision is a world in which the clothes we make, and wear, do no harm to people or our living planet. www.traid.org.uk
Children who participate in the arts each week through at least one full year are:
■ 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
■ 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
■ 4 times more likely to participate in a math or science fair
■ 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
■ 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
Young artists, as compared with their peers, are likely to:
■ Attend music, art, and dance classes nearly three times as frequently
■ Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently
■ Read for pleasure nearly twice as often
■ Perform community service more than four times as often
Source: “Living the Arts through Language + Learning: A Report on Community-based Youth Organizations,” Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching, Americans for the Arts Monograph, November 1998