the upcycling cycle

I love social media, to be specific Facebook.  I quite like twitter and Whatsapp is great for group conversations but if I want to waste an hour without noticing then Facebook is the place for me.  I follow news outlets, political parties, craft groups and an upcycling group.

Upcycling- the new shopping.  Don’t buy something new, don’t throw away something old, upcycle it into something totally different.  It  ticks all the boxes for the eco-friendly.  You can create new, useful and beautiful objects from stuff that would otherwise go in o landfill, and at the same time you are not buying new and unnecessary stuff that will probably end up in landfill in a few years time anyway.  Perfect.

Or is it?  There are two types of upcycling projects.  The one where you find something lurking around the house and instead of chucking it out a light bulb goes off in your head and you say “wow this cracked decanter that hasn’t seen a bottle of wine in decades would make a perfect lampstand”.  Using my highly accurate survey methods (i.e. asking around, looking on social media and following a huge range of upcycling blogs etc) about 80% of potential crystal lampshades will remain as cracked decanters; 10% will get part way there and will metamorphose into decanterlamps that are missing vital parts and will never make the full transformation; 5% will be transformed but never switched on and will remain in the workroom/shed and a lucky 5% will shine bright on the table shaming every failed upcycler who comes into the room.

The second type of project is that created by the pro-active seeker upcycler.  This character scours markets, auction houses, freegle, swap and sale groups and second-hand  and charity shops actively looking for potential projects.  No three-legged chair is without potential and nirvana is a pile of pristine, unwanted pallets.  It is also not unheard of to purchase new (“what?!”) items purely in order to turn them into something else.  I will confess to  having fallen into that category.  Why buy something already made, when I can buy the constituent parts and make it myself.  We are not talking saving hundreds or even tens of pounds.  I suspect my rather lovely cake tin stand would have cost as much to purchase ready made as it did for me to make it (but it wouldn’t have wobbled quite as nicely as mine does).


Returning to my highly tuned research methods I had assumed that these projects would have a higher success rate.  The people who take the the time to seek out the unpolished gem and part with hard earned cash for it are surely not going to let it languish unloved in a shed?  These are people who frequently sell their completed upcycles.  They have a vested financial interest in getting the job done.

Ladies and gentleman, we are all the same.  Whilst there are of course exceptions to every rule (and the standard deviation for my statistics here is probably in the region of +/- 2,500 or thereabouts!) the proactively sought and paid for projects stand just as much chance of making it to that final 5% as granny’s whisky decanter did.

As the build on the Barn and Gin Gan comes nearer to completion we have to move even more stuff out and rehouse it in our now smaller home.   The picture frame that I was going to turn into a gilt mirror, the china kept for mosaic work.  How long have I had them?  Have they magically transformed themselves in my absence?  Reader, they have gone.  Perhaps somebody else would like to house them in the vain hope that they might one day make a mosaic effect mirror?

moving the mindset


With thanks to for the excellent diagram above.

It’s moved, really quite substantially.  Not my mind (though it shudders and shakes on a regular basis as I try to dredge up some vital piece of information such as the preterite tense of ir, I remembered eventually it’s fui, fuiste etc.) but my mindset.  My mindset is becoming more minimalist.   I have a long way to go before I have a house that looks like a John Pawson , if indeed I actually want one.  However, I now find myself wandering around the rooms picking up things and questioning their right to be there.

Today I removed a salt and pepper set, 3 hurricane lamps a (very neat but unnecessary) pile of magazines, a vase and a soap dish.  I wasn’t actually decluttering I was making the beds, doing the laundry and getting ready for the WI meeting. Nonetheless I automatically decluttered, I did it without thinking.  My eyes were seeing things from a different angle to before.

I first noticed the difference when we were in Glasgow and although I was happy to potter around the shops it was mainly because I was enjoying reliving my youth (well my twenties!) rather than the shopping itself. In terms of purchases I bought one pair of shoes £15 (approximate original value from Bally £350) almost unworn, complete with wooden shoe trees to replace a pair that I threw out.  Hardly profligate and wanton consumerism.

So if the mindset is changing, what else will change?  How will that affect the rest of my life and those around me?  I hope it leads to some of the following:

  • more space, not just physical but emotional.  We have all noticed how much nicer the house is with less stuff in it and there is a feeling of movement rather than blockage.
  • more time.  With less to look after and only the things we want to look after I hope we have more time for each other, for doing things we want to do rather than have to do.
  • less pointless decisions (this dress or those shoes for example).
  • opportunities for my daughters to see how a less materialistic life is not a less rich life.
  • questions, discussions and learning from each other.
  • less unnecessary expenditure.

I am coming to the end of the first week of my blog.  This time next year I hope I can look back and tick yes to the above.