Saturday, February 4, 2017

Upcycling a Little or a Lot

Whether you upcycle to make an eco-friendly statement or to save money, the biggest ongoing challenge is, where do you set the bar for salvaged supplies? If you plan to design again and again, how do you source recycled materials? And how do you incorporate new content?

The design below for Sleepless Storyteller uses upcycled material in the form of a pocketwatch face plate, a repurposed St. Christopher Medal, a salvaged rhinestone and setting from an old bracelet. The hippocampus charms, aquamarine cabochon and setting, bail, and chain are all new material.

Another design for Sleepless Storyteller merges vintage deadstock and upcycled salvaged supplies. There is far less new material in the design below (only chain, findings, rhinestones, and the green wire) but this type of work is not as easy to replicate.

If you're designing for personal use, you could definitely get away with being super selective about  your materials. You may even want to recycle within recycling, and by that I mean, design a piece, wear it until you loose interest, then reuse the components for something new.

If you're designing for customers, you'll need to consider two things: 1) How much art can I make and how often? 2) Am I trying to create a unified brand, or am I just creating as the muse strikes me?

Answering those questions will help you make decisions about supplies and about what kind of business you're building. It's totally fine to create a hobby business and not quit your day job. Sometimes art and design are more rewarding when your paycheck isn't on the line. But if you do want that sought-after self-employed job title, balance business with your art for best results.