Yep, we’re still on mending. Embellishing. Salvaging. People, I’m on a mission here, seriously. I’ve always wanted to get people to dress more creatively because, as I’ve said a million times, I want us to be able to find each other out in the world where everyone else is wearing suits and beige and CruiseWear. Or maybe that’s just here in West Texas, where there’s no easier way to flaunt your wealth than wearing something you’re testing out for your winter get-away.
But I digress. The other part of my mission is getting creative people to think creatively about creative (yeah, yeah, I know) ways to keep from filling the landfill with everything from old paint brushes (make them into jewelry, or art, or drawer pulls for your kitchen. Large paint brushes standing on their handle can hold mail or postcards in their bristles. There are TONS of ways to use up stuff most people would toss) to old clothes. I love clothes, so that’s where I focus. If I end up with a garment (almost always purchased at least second-hand, sometimes third-or-fourth-hand) I won’t wear, I take it to my favorite resale shop. If it’s not something she wants, I take it to Goodwill. If it’s too worn-out even for Goodwill, I cut it up to use the fabric in another project. If it’s too hideous/worn out for that, it can be used for rags or ties to stake trees or vines.
OK. About gloves. Or, rather, wrist warmers. In the winter, my hands are always cold, even if the rest of me is toasty, so over the years I’ve collect rather a lot of wrist-warmers, some given to me, some made for me, some thrifted. I wear them to type in, to stitch in, to do pretty much everything in. They get wine stains on them and needle holes in them, and eventually they need help. Of course I’m not going to throw them away. Sometimes laundering is enough, but when it’s not? Mending! Appliquing! Embellishing! See?
These first two pair are just cheapo acrylic fingerless gloves I found on sale somewhere years ago. I avoid non-natural fibers, but these were 1) cheap 2) colorful. And I was probably cold when I saw them. Over the years, they’ve developed some holes—you can see the pink mending on the thumb of the rose pair. I mend those with embroidery floss, and I realized I could make them cooler with some simple appliqués—which would work perfectly well for mending holes (just make sure you catch the yarn that’s unraveling as you stitch the patch in place).
These were knitted for me, and I love them and love the color and couldn’t resist adding the orange:
This last pair was thrifted. They were new, with tags, but were in a pile in the resale shop. The owner tossed them in for free, and I tried them on when I got home and found they were full of tiny holes. A Challenge! Perfect; you can see the mending in paler gray:
Remember what I said about making patches/embellishment out of some of the symbols you use in your work? Hands, eyes, stars, something more elaborate? You don’t need to have mad sewing skills for this stuff—not at all. It’s not difficult or complicated or time-consuming, and when you’re done, you’ve salvaged something AND made it cooler, all at the same time.
Maybe sewing isn’t your thing. Learn more about upcycling or reusing your old artworks and supplies with Sandra Duran Wilson and Darlene Olivia McElroy’s Mixed Media Revolution.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS