Making has long been an effective way of using odds and ends to create useful and attractive items.  At the Creative Open Workshops (C.O.W) we take this very seriously and nothing goes to waste in our colourful workshop area.  Many of our workshops rely on the scraps and remnants from previous workshops to enhance and embellish other sessions.  We use fabric scraps for appliqué and for covering buttons; paper cuttings form the basis of collages; shredded paper forms a pulp base for making handmade paper; and unwanted clothing is cut up and used as fabric or even yarn for knitting and crochet.
Many of the artists who lead workshops at C.O.W and showcase their work at Handmade – The Birmingham Arts & Crafts Market – use recycled and reclaimed materials in their work.
Denise Quinn from Peeko Crochet can be regularly spotted spinning plarn (plastic bag yarn) on her spinning wheel or cassette tape on her drop spindle.  She uses these spun materials in her crochet work to create anything from re-usable and durable market bags and purses to attractive brooches.  It is quite amazing to see how appealing these plastic and tape reincarnations are. 
Judith Williamson from Once Upon a Tin uses tinplate taken from unwanted sweet, biscuit and storage tins which is then cut and manipulated to form unique artworks ranging from wall panels and decorative canvases to smaller and highly unusual pieces of jewellery. 
Francine Schokker has been making curtains, wallpaper panels and dresses for performances made from discarded tea bag filter paper.  These are incredibly delicate looking artworks and a fantastic example of upcycling. Under her Said Label brand she transforms charity shop finds into vibrant pincushions, shoulder bags and men’s ties. 
These are just a few examples of everyday items that have outlived their use but have then been rejuvenated.  Recycling is the best way to craft!

On 28th November, C.O.W ran a workshop entitled ‘Customise your Wardrobe’.  The aim of this session was to embellish and alter your wardrobe, giving you more choices from your existing clothes, rather than buying or binning.  If you have something that you don’t wear anymore and would like to give it a fresh look or upcycle it into something that you will wear and use, come along thethe next session and customise with C.O.W.
Further Information
To find out more about workshops, Handmade market dates and how to get involved, visit: