Pages Menu

Posted on Nov 29, 2013 in Blog, Waste

The Big Upcycle

By Niamh Madden


big upcycleWorn t-shirts, shelves of books collecting dust, an old bathtub… You might think that these items are best delivered to your local charity shop. Think again! At the Big Upcycle market last Sunday 24th November, all these pre-loved objects had been transformed into unique crafts and gifts.

What is upcycling?

The colourful weekend market, which took place in Stillorgan Park Hotel, was a haven for upcycled bits and bobs. Upcycling is bringing an old object back to life by giving it a new function, purpose or recreating it completely. The difference between upcycling and recycling, according to Lynn Haughton, founder of The Upcycle Movement, is that “when you recycle something – generally the components are broken down and the result is an item of lesser quality e.g. recycled paper.”

Result? Quirky crafts!

There was an outstanding range of unusual and creative designs for sale at the Upcycle market. What was remarkable was the talent and time put into recreating something old into an eye-catching new creation! One stall was simply a retro suitcase, full of what looked like books. One step closer and you could see that the suitcase was filled with old book covers that were converted into high quality notebooks. A couple of notebooks that caught my eye were made from old VHS videos like Bagpuss and Star Wars. To see more of the range, have a look at Notebooks By Mary.

upcycle books

PetalNew got creative with paper also, by taking something as basic as old newspaper and completely revamping it to create a bunch of pretty flowers.

paper flowersI loved the cute fish bags and colourful children’s clothes made from old t-shirts by Little Scrap.

Another stall called Little Snippets sold wooden crafts like spice racks, bird houses and signs made from driftwood. They also used glass jars as trinket holders or needle holders, topped off by an upcycled material pin cushion!


Tennis fans would have appreciated the funky tennis racket clock by Revived and Retro. For fans of that seventies look, there was Bosca Bosca, who convert old radios and cigar boxes into functioning speakers that connect to your phone or mobile device with Bluetooth. So you can play all your music through an appliance that looks thoroughly vintage!

upcycled radio


There were also a number of workshops at the market, such as the decoupage demonstration, where we learned how to convert an old glass jar into a cheery candle holder. All you need is some spray paint, a glass jar, rubber bands, an old napkin and PVA glue. We were instructed to place the rubber bands around the bottom of the jar and spray paint over it in white. Once the paint dries, you can remove the bands which leave two clear stripes where the bands once were. Then you can cut out any shape from a napkin using a scissors (the demo napkin had a cute bluebird on it) and glue it onto the jar using the PVA. Et voila – a nice upcycled Christmas candle holder!  

Upcycling enthusiasts

I couldn’t get over the enthusiasm and creativity of the people I met with and spoke to about their work. It just shows how many talented and committed crafty souls are out there using the resources that we’ve already got to create something that will lift an eyebrow, evoke a smile, or bring back some memories, like the Bagpuss notebook for instance!

Upcoming Upcycles

What’s next in the Upcycling world? Well if you missed out on the market, you can check out another upcycling event this weekend. Sunday, 1st December from 12pm – 6pm at the Dublin Wine Rooms. “Just Grow Up” is an Upcycling and Urban Farming event, which will host free workshops and demonstrations on upcycling using reclaimed materials. The Urban Farm aspect of the event will include a guide on how to create urban friendly farming kits out of upcycled materials and items.

Learm more about “Just Grow Up” on For more on Upcycling, have a look at .