That was one message that Amber Ladley had for the participants of “Inviting Creativity: A Crafty Workshop on the Benefits of Upcycling,” our last program in the fall Glenmeadow Learning series. Amber is a lifelong crafter, and before leading people in making a gratitude jar to hold special thoughts and memories, she talked with them about the importance of rescuing everyday items from the landfill by reusing them in creative projects.
“Does anyone know what ‘upcyling’ means?” Amber asked, and the group of roughly 10 participants shook their heads “no” collectively. “Upcycling is taking something that has little or no value, something you might toss in the landfill, and repurposing it into something that is beautiful. It’s bringing something to new life.”
Amber is a big believer in upcyling. One of her missions in her work as the founder of Happily Upcycled—through which she sells her own creations and teaches others how to upcycle—is to help save the planet by reusing items. Amber also offered these other reasons why she loves upcycling:
- Creativity is good for you. “When I’m being creative, I feel happy. It’s a wonderful experience. Scarcity, not abundance, promotes creativity, so challenging ourselves to use what’s on hand increases our creativity,” Amber said.
- Handmade gifts are meaningful. “I love to make handmade gifts in our world of over-consumption. I can slow down, unplug, have time to be with my thoughts, and create,” she said.
Because Amber’s favorite crafts are ones that allow her to work her hands while her mind can rest, she chose a decoupage project for the Inviting Creativity workshop. She said decoupage flourished in 18th century Italy and was considered to be “the poor’s man’s art.”
Essentially, decoupage is cutting up bits of paper and adhering them to something—a jar, as in the project we did in Amber’s program, or a box, or, in Italy, in the beginnings of the craft, on furniture. Amber used a mixture of three parts Elmer’s glue and one part water to mix the decoupage material that our participants used, and she provided them with various clean, recycled jars and all kinds of paper, glitter, ribbons, lace and other materials for them to get crafting.
There was a quiet excitement in the room as people sitting in small groups around tables at Agawam Library got to work. Some used tissue paper to decoupage on their jars; others used magazine photos or old sewing patterns. There was quiet talk about the holidays to come, the project at hand and other matters of life.
And as the program concluded, there were choruses of “Oh, I love yours. Beautiful.” Or, “I love how you used so much color!”
To let Amber inspire you, visit her website. We will also continue to inspire you through Glenmeadow Learning. We’re busy planning our Spring 2017 programs, so stay tuned!