New Necktie Upcycling Class!

Hot off the press — a new online class, Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets, first in my series of downloadable tutorials on upcycling at CraftArtEdu.

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Create gorgeous bracelets from neckties! All you need to upcycle the swoon-worthy silky fabric of an unused tie into a unique bracelet is needle and thread, scissors, and a button, velcro or snap.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

My 30-plus page tutorial takes you step-by-step through the entire process, with 60 full-color closeup photos showing you exactly what to do.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

Learn how to size and sew the bracelet (no advanced skills or tools needed), plan ahead to maximize use of the rest of the tie, choose which of 4 closure options works best for your bracelet … and much more.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

With many extra tips — about the care and treatment of ties, using a sewing machine if you have one — and more. I even give you leads on where to find ties to upcycle — no stealing your husband’s faves!Upcycle Neckties Into Bracelets

Warning – you’ll quickly become addicted to making these bracelets!

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets
But after you run out of space on both arms to wear your favorites, start making more for friends and family, they’ll love your handmade gifts!

Click here for my CraftArtEdu main page.

Here are links to my other CraftArtEdu classes, each with its own free preview:

Taking Great Photos of Your Artwork & Crafts

Taking Great Photos With Your Smartphone

Decorating Wood With Image Transfers

Fabulous Fabric Postcards

Handmade Pet Collars

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

Inkjet Printing on Lutradur

And my free basic classes:

Inkjet Inks: What You Need to Know for Your Artwork and Crafts

Introduction to Lutradur

 

 

 

Upcycled Decorator Fabric Bowls

I love making useful things out of my artwork. When I started printing my own photos and designs onto fabric it opened up a universe of options to use the material — for scarves, sachets, pillows, and so much more! One of my favorite things to make with my fabric is bowls and vases.

Fabric bowl

If you’re clever enough to come up with your own patterns I’m envious, but I need some direction, and this C&T Publishing book was perfect: Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric Vases by Linda Johansen. I also love her book Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric BowlsThat one’s out of print but C&T sells it as an ebook or you can find it used. These are two of the first vases I made using a pattern in Linda’s Vases book.

Fabric vases

When I scored a stash of amazingly beautiful fabric in decorator sample books at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale I realized that the larger pieces would upcycle perfectly into bowls. If you’re in the Bay Area SCRAP-SF usually has a great supply of sample books at very reasonable prices. I’ve made three of the bowls so far from fabric I got out of one book. The fabric’s richly embossed and overstitched with divine floral patterns. I used a template for a 9 inch bowl with six leaves, the same one I used for the bowls in the first photo above. This is my current favorite, made from the gold-toned fabric.

Upcycled decorator fabric bowl

The red one is gorgeous too. Here’s the bottom. They’re easily reversible, all you have to do is push on the base and the bowls turn inside out.Upcycled fabric bowl red

The front of the red bowl.
Upcycled fabric bowl red

The easiest way to make these is to construct a sandwich with 2 pieces of fabric, good sides facing out, and slip between them a piece of thick stabilizer that’s fusible on both sides. Bond the sandwich by ironing to activate the adhesive. Place the template or pattern from Linda’s book on top, then mark around and cut. Depending on your template or pattern you may also have to mark the base.
Upcycled fabric bowl white

Sew up the bowl and you’re set! I double satin-stitch around each of the leaves and the base. Bowls are great gifts, perfect to hold keys and coins, dry food, beauty and bathroom items, at your bed side or on your vanity, etc.

Sorry,  I can’t find a link to show you the template I used for these because I bought it years ago, but click here if you want to see an example of one you can use to make a small basket.

Interested in upcycling?

This is my blog post about upcycling books into art.

In this one I talk about using upcycled fabric in an art hanging.

I show an envelope made from old paper in this post.

 

 

Upcycling Books into Art

How do you feel about altered book art? I know it’s controversial and discussions about the subject can become heated. I’ve been reading a lot of books about using books for art, and am interested to find that they all contain an explanation, with varying degrees of defensiveness, of the author’s philosophy.

My take is definitely colored by my nature as a lifelong book-lover. Growing up, the inevitable answer to my parents’ question, where’s Heidi? was “in her room, reading a book.” After early jobs in fast food joints, I started my “real” work-life in libraries after graduating with a degree in English Lit. My current law job involves constant reading, and now my answer to George’s question, where are you? is still pretty much the same.

So it probably makes sense that when I first found out about altered book art it made me squeamish. I understand other artists’ philosophies, but I still would not be comfortable tearing up, painting in, or cutting a book in good shape that someone else might want to read, for art or craft. My increasing interest in upcycling, defined by Wikipedia as “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value” has helped clarify my personal stance.

In my recent blog post “Mail Art Pen Pal” I told you about upcycled envelopes I’ve been making. Here’s one from an old calendar of botanical drawings.

Upcycled handmade envelope

Out-of-date calendar pages are ideal for upcycling into collages and other mixed-media artwork, or to use as wrapping paper. And similarly, I’ll use books that other people would not want to read – those that are headed for landfill or downcycling because they’re unreadable, ripped and torn, scribbled in, or outdated but not historically significant.

Upcycled map envelopes

I made this set of envelopes from a 1990 Thomas Bros’ book of maps, not old enough to be valuable vintage ephemera and too old to be relied upon by the few people around who don’t use Google maps or have a smartphone or GPS!

I’ve been gathering books that fit my strict criteria at the El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center, 8501 Schmidt Lane, El Cerrito. Along with an award-winning recycling program, the Center houses an “Exchange Zone,” where people donate and take home “reusable and gently-used materials.” There’s a big dumpster filled with newly-dropped off books to scrounge through, and many are also shelved in a vague sort of order by volunteers. If I’m not sure I’ll hold it up and ask George “would anyone use this?” He has the final word.

Books

We’re also very lucky to live near another wonderful resource, the Bay Area Free Book Exchange, where you can take any book for free (up to 100 a day!) and also donate books. According to the Exchange’s website, they currently have “approximately 10,000 free books in [the] store, and have given away 406,010 books since May 2009. All books on all of the shelves are free for the taking. If you are interested in donating books, you are welcome to drop off during our business hours, Saturday & Sunday 9am-6pm.”  The Book Exchange is at 10520 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito.

Since my artistic focus is using my photographs and the images I create from them in my artwork, I’m just very slowly starting to use books in my mixed-media pieces.

Le petit oiseau

I found some pages from an old ripped-up French/English piano music book for children. Leafing through it, this page for “Le petit oiseau / The Warbler” jumped out at me. I chose several of my bird photographs and arranged them on a blank canvas in Photoshop Elements the same size as the sheet music, which I cut down slightly so it would fit in my printer. It went through with no problem. Printing on untreated paper doesn’t look the same as on paper that’s treated for inkjet inks, so the colors are a bit muted and the resolution isn’t as sharp, but I like the effect on the aged paper and with the musical notes running through the images.

I love the idea of honoring old books that were once loved but are now tattered and torn, by using them in artwork. And re-using old paper saves a sheet of the new.

Interested in finding out more? These are two of the books I found at the San Francisco Public Library: Book Art : Creative Ideas to Transform Your Books– Decorations, Stationery, Display Scenes, and More, by Clare Youngs and Playing with Books : the Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book, by Jason Thompson.