Upcycling is the new black

Car boot sale bargain tray after upcycling

I try to be ecofriendly, remembering to sort the rubbish, recycle as much as I can, reuse plastic bags, use non-plastic shopping bags and buy food with less packaging. But its all a bit tedious. About as exciting as sweeping the kitchen floor really. But upcycling, there’s something to get excited about.

I have had little forays into Feng Shui and clutter clearing but I have to admit I am not a minimalist. I subscribed to the minimalist’s blog a while ago. Two guys who set out on a mission a couple of years ago to live simply, with few belongings and have ended up with a very successful blog, a huge following and tour the USA giving lectures. Living their dream and it looks fantastic.

But its not for me. I get attached to things. I love little ornaments and nick naks. I like the things I make and I don’t want to resign them to the great clutter heap in the sky.

The downside of this is that it can be difficult to throw things away. I can see where hoarding starts – I’m not quite there yet, but its really hard sometimes to get rid of something that is still useful, just because you don’t want it.

The answer is to either sell it, give it away, freecycle it or upcycle it. With some things, the first three options work quite well – which releases some extra space (and maybe also cash) to find new things to upcycle.

Car booting is a secret pleasure

I’ve always loved going round car boot sales, markets and charity shops. I am not a materialist in the sense of wanting the latest and most expensive things, designer clothes or fashionable new furniture. I just like rummaging and finding something unloved but gorgeous that I can bring back to life – for a few pennies.

The car boot sale on at York Racecourse most Saturdays in the summer is a delight. In a recent blog post I showed some of the finds I got and here you can see some of the upcycling that I did during the few days that followed.

At the end of the post I added a picture of a tray I got for £1.

Car boot sale bargain try before upcycling
Car boot sale bargain tray before upcycling

The tray sides were made of a light wood – probably pine but could be beech – while the base was a hardboard with a melamine white surface – pretty nasty. I liked the shape and size of the tray though – its easily 2 feet long and has nice handles at either side. It would make a perfect project tray for my jewellery making or even my crochet as I’m trying to learn how to make crochet flowers of different types when I get chance.

The first step was to give it a good clean, sand it down and then set up to paint the wood a nice neutral grey. I used ordinary emulsion – a match pot that was left over after we’d done some decorating in the spring. Silver mist it was called. Two coats was all it took, then I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the base, covered it with a lovely paper from Paperchase and added two bows made of vintage lace.


Car boot sale bargain tray after upcycling
Car boot sale bargain tray after upcycling

I love this. It took so little time and no money as I already had the paint, the paper and the lace. The cardboard base was an Amazon box that I cut up. I can change the base if I want and use a different paper, so this tray could be upcycled a few more times in its life yet.

A beautiful jewellery box

With all the jewellery I keep making, I can never have too many boxes to keep jewellery in. I bought this sad looking box for 50p but thought it had potential.

I planned to use fine sandpaper to clean it and then colour it with alcohol inks – I thought it would turn out to be something pretty special. But when I polished and cleaned it, I realised that it didn’t need that, in fact, colouring it could have spoiled it. It looks pretty damn good sitting on the upcycled tray too 🙂

Jewellery box after upcyling
Jewellery box after upcyling