Monday, 26 September 2011

Adding Value(s) at the Upcycling Academy

Earlier this year I was approached by ‘Twisted Thread’, the team behind Europe’s largest textile event ‘The Knitting and Stitching Shows’ to develop a new feature area at the show.

Over the last couple of years ‘upcycling’ has become a bit of a buzzword, but many people are still unsure what it means or misappropriate the word. The term was popularised by the 2002 book ‘Cradle to Cradle’ ‘Remaking the way we make things’ by William Mc Donough and Michael Braungart. The book identified how materials being recycled actually downgrade and use more resources whereas materials being upcycled gain quality and value and impact less on the environment.

I have been a professional upcycler for over 12 years. I introduced the term upcycling into my vocabulary after being invited to make a presentation of my textile practise at the ‘Upcycling – adding value through design’ symposium organised by TED – Textile Environment Design at Chelsea college of Art + Design. For me upcycling is not only the process of transforming, giving new life, stories and meanings to waste materials but I see this resourceful approach as a framework to do more with less and to action positive social and environmental changes within ourselves, locally and globally.

‘The Upcycling Academy’ aims to pass on these values and skills and wants YOU! To join our creative and dedicated team at the shows. So what’s happening? This first Upcycling Academy presents an alternative and ethical fashion production line. Check into the utopian factory’s ‘Consumption and Waste’ reception hosted by Traid and pick up an old t-shirt for a donation of £3 or bring your own. While there learn how growing clothes consumption and waste is impacting on our environment. Take your t-shirt and rotate around a series of experimental, re processing, craft based workshops on ‘The Productive Line’. Stitch, Slash, Print, Accessorise, Knit, Weave or mix n match techniques with our upcycling design team including Barley Massey, Sue Russell, Sissy Rooney. Alongside, exercise your values in the Gaming and Action area hosted by War on Want - Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign and Traid. Participatory activities include ‘Who’s responsible?’ and ‘Be the change’. War on Want will also be linking with Sissy Rooney’s workshop in creating action slogans for t-shirts. The final link in the chain is the ‘Virtual Catwalk’ where you can strut your stuff, show off your creations, put an action on a mini placard and have your picture taken by the photo booth and share it on Facebook. You can also print out your image for a donation of £2; proceeds will go to one of War on Wants current human right’s campaigns – lobbying for better working conditions for Bangladesh garment workers.

Are you ready to join the industrious re – evolution?

For further information on The Upcycling Academy, a free down loadable resource pack for teachers, how to buy tickets and directions for the show visit the Twisted Thread website

Competition time!

To win 2 tickets to the show (you can choose Ally Pally, Dublin or Harrogate) answer the following question: What does upcycling mean to you?

Be spontaneous as we need to receive your response before Sunday 2nd October so we have enough time to post out the tickets! The most thought provoking and creative answer posted on either Fabrications Facebook page or the comment box on THIS POST wins! Good Luck!

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