Saturday, 12 April 2014 I choose my materials

Before I even knew what it was called I was upcycling. I've never been able to throw away things which could be useful or were just too pretty to get rid of. Even as a child I'd save bits of paper, stamps, sweet wrappers (and anything else that caught my eye) and turn them into pictures, cards and decorations.

I've never been a hoarder, everything is clean and tidy and has it's place. As my collection has grown I realised I needed to put it to more uses than just fulfilling my own needs, and that's when I started Pink Flamingo Handcrafting. I first started making and selling items using what I already had, but as my little business has grown so has the need for materials.

Ephemera - everyday objects that would usually be thrown away

So now I have to actively look for items to upcycle as well as collecting bits and pieces that would have been thrown away. I often get asked where I find things and how I use them, so I thought I'd share my ideas on this subject here.

A selection of broken books from a recent trip to an antiques centre

As a book lover and English Literature graduate, I can't bear to cut up books which are still readable, entertaining or informative. I'll often see books that I'll look through and think the pictures would make gorgeous cards, but the book itself (for example a cook book) is still perfectly useable. In that case I always put it back and hope it finds a good home.

Other books though aren't as lucky. Over the years they've been well loved, read, played with and ...well, look rather worse for wear. These are the books that I like to 'rescue'. If their spine is broken and the pages are falling out then I won't feel so guilty about tearing it up; if a child has lovingly scribbled all over the pages trying to draw their own versions of the pictures I know another child won't want to read it; if the book's been left lying somewhere forgotten and half the pages have discoloured and curled then I know I can rescue the good bits.

A puzzle book's not much use when all the crosswords are complete!

Of course, I only use the parts of the texts which are undamaged to make sure that my customers get great quality cards and gifts.

So, that's how I choose the materials I use in my work. And if you ever want to know exactly where the papers on your purchase have come from, all you have to do is ask me (I have a terrible memory for some things, but books always stay in my head!).

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