Upcycle Progress: HELP ME

The idea of using useless material to make something aesthetically pleasing, potentially with a function, is incredibly intriguing! Unfortunately too intriguing in my case, as I cannot seem to converge on one concept. This post is more about seeking input from other students, than documenting my own progress. Therefore, PLEASE HELP ME BY COMMENTING YOUR IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS. The following ideas represent the foundation of my three main considerations for this project.


The concept of making something out of cork is the most appealing idea in my eyes. I appreciate the vintage wooden aesthetic of cork and it would work well for home furniture, planters, or decorations. The first two have a function, while the third option would focus solely on aesthetic appeal. Corks have a quirky original feel. Additionally, they are all unique due to the wine/champagne brands and the discolouration due to the wine itself. Unfortunately, this material could present a difficulty as I will have to collect corks from restaurants and bars over the next two weeks, in hopes of having enough to finish the project.


Additionally, I like the idea of making recycled apparel. The two most appealing materials are playing cards and garbage bags. Playing cards are colourful and structured, while garbage bags come in a select number of colours and do not hold their shape. Cards evoke a childish feel to me, so I would make children’s apparel specifically. As shown below, the plastic bags have more flow to them and would be better suited for elegant clothing. Either option would be interesting for a dress. The skirt would have two very different feels, and the ability to get in and out of the dress would differ. I have access to a sewing machine and am well versed in using it, so this option is possible. The garbage bag option is more feasible.


In my opinion, this concept would be the most functional. When painted black or gunmetal grey, PVC pipes have an industrial aesthetic. When left white, they evoke a modern minimalist sensation. Additionally, the structural possibilities of PVC pipes are endless with joints, couplings, different size pipes, machining capabilities, etc. I am interested in incorporating electronics into a PVC project to make a lamp or lighting feature (as shown in the two left most images below), but am open to considering other options.


If you would be so kind as to help me choose a material or provide suggestions/comments/concerns, it would be MUCH appreciated!

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Jeremy Parsons
    February 5, 2017 10:58 pm

    Sofi: in regards to the cork (or any similar upcycle material: bottle caps, coins, etc.) you could consider placing them into a recess and casting over them. Check out an example here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Bottle-Cap-Table-with-Poured-Resin-Surface/
    That said, I really do enjoy the lamp and table example you posted that are made from simple plumbing piping. If I were going to make anything to keep and put in my home, it would be those!

  • Olivia Watkins
    February 4, 2017 11:17 am

    Just a suggestion: If you really like the cork aesthetic you don’t necessarily have to go around collecting corks (although I am sure Boulder restaurants would be super willing to help you recycle!) I have done/seen a couple of projects with old cork board such as drink coasters, maps or jewelry holders . This could give a similar feel with out all of the collecting work !

  • Hi Sofi! i really like the idea with the PVC pipes, they have a minimalist feel to it . And yes! The idea of integrating electronics into it seems very cool. You could play with minimalism and get something nice out of it. What worked for me was not to think too much and just start making something, not necessarily knowing where you want to end up and I’m sure when you start playing around, you’ll eventually know where you would like to end up.


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