It was a shock to learn only one in four items donated to thrift shops end up purchased and the rest of the donations end up in the landfill. I thought items I donated to thrift shops found their way into other people’s homes, but come to find out 75% of my items I donate eventually find their way to the trash. I thought I was being environmentally friendly. Not so, I was delaying the inevitable. My trash may not be somebody’s treasure. Some of my items were just trash.
For Screen Door Studio’s upcycled clothing and jewelry line, 100% of the materials I use come from thrift stores and are fashioned out of recycled materials that I repurpose. I use every part of every piece of clothing I find at thrift stores. I make weekly rounds to the half off senior days at both the Arc Thrift Store and Once Upon a Thrift in Fort Collins.
The Holy Grail for my art practice are 100% wool sweaters, jackets and coats. I also look for embroidered patches for my hats, crocheted doilies, embroidered dresser scarves and linens, sewing notions and buttons. Or anything else that strikes my fancy. It’s getting harder and harder to find wool items and my hunter-gatherer instincts come into play every visit. Who knows what I will find and that is part of the fun. It’s like treasure hunting. You never know what you are going to find. This week I scored dozens of covered button kits. All half off.
What you wear and what you buy and how you buy your clothes impacts the planet. It’s shocking to learn the apparel and footwear industries are responsible for 8 percent of the global climate impact. Total greenhouse gas emissions related to textile production are equal to 1.2 billion tons annually or more than all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined each year. Fast fashion is leading the charge on this impact and that means your clothing choices can have a negative or positive impact on global warming.
Upcycling and repurposing used clothing is one creative way to reduce your carbon footprint and something I have been doing for 10 years. Out of wool sweaters, ties, shirts, socks, wool blankets, coats, jackets, buttons, bottle caps, zippers, resistors, floppy disc centers, old aluminum coins, fabric scraps, aluminum cans and other curiosities, I have designed a line of upcycled clothing and created a line of bottle cap bead jewelry. Most of the materials I use in my art practice are recycled and repurposed.
For my line of clothing, I cannibalize wool sweaters to make my hats. Every part of the sweater is used for making hats and the leftover pieces are fashioned into flowers, polka dots and birds for decoration. The ribbing of the sweaters become tree trunks and leaves. I even save the labels of all the sweaters I cut up and use them for embellishment. In the end, the entire sweater has been used for in some way in my fashion line.
My line of shirts and coats are repurposed and embellished with embroidery, buttons, rosettes made out of men’s ties or socks, lace dollies or whatever suits my fancy. I am always on the lookout for new ways to use cast off items in my line of clothing and jewelry. Each item in my line of clothing and jewelry is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation and eco-friendly.
The owners of Horse & Dragon are hosting a trunk show of my recycled art on Saturday July 27th from 2-5 PM. Come taste their wonderful beer and see my bottle cap bead jewelry, tee shirt skirts and upcycled shirts in one of my favorite places in Fort Collins.
I love the quirkiness of Horse & Dragon Brewery. It’s so comfortable. It does not exude a corporate atmosphere. The brewery and tasting room have a hometown feeling. The tables are made from thick recycled wood, playing cards are readily available, and the music makes me want to get up and dance.
And every beer I have ever had at Horse and Dragon has been outstanding. After meeting Carol and Tim Corcoran, owners and visionaries of Horse & Dragon, I found we had a lot in common.
They have created a little brewery with a great heart. The heart of Horse & Dragon Brewery includes high quality beer, fantastic and dedicated employees that make my time in the tasting room fun, dedication to recycling and the environment, their passion for birds and bicycling, eco-friendliness and their love of international travel. It is at their patio I encountered my first bee hotel. We share many of the same values.
“We have dreamed of and planned for Horse & Dragon since our honeymoon, which we took in Napa Valley (the non-Colorado one) and during which we had every dinner at that beautiful wine country at a local brewpub.” says Tim and Carol Corcoran, owners of the visionary brewery Horse & Dragon Brewery of Fort Collins, Colorado. We are all lucky they chose Fort Collins to brew their magic.
“Thanks for sharing and caring for Earth with us.” The founders say and “its vital for people to relax and connect with each other in today’s increasingly busy, stressed, individualized, and disconnected world. Craft beer Is a fantastic and tasty way to accomplish this.”
Horse and Dragon is founded on four principles to make great beer, minimize their environmental footprint, treat everyone ethically and to be proactive members of our community.
I love birds and Tim and Carol put up a kestrel nesting box this winter. A pair of kestrels nested,and laid five eggs in the late spring. Only three birds survived due to the weather, and they recently fledged. The whole time the kestrels were in residence, Horse and Dragon live streamed their antics.
The black and red logo of Horse and Dragon speaks volumes how they feel about their beer. It’s strong, striking, unique and eye-catching. The logo is a combination of the Corcoran’s Chinese zodiac signs. Carol’s Chinese zodiac sign is the horse and Tim’s is the dragon. It reminds me of a coat of arms. I love their logo.
Before I met the owners of Horse and Dragon Brewery, I bought two half growlers of their beer at Pringles because their logo caught my eye. I coveted their bottle caps. I loved the logo that much.
I was pleased beyond belief when I walked into the Horse and Dragon tasting room. I had a meeting with Carol and showed her my jewelry. I was hoping it would be a good fit to sell in the tasting room. She immediately said, “Yes.” without blinking an eye further proving Horse and Dragon’s commitment to recycling and their commitment to being proactive members of their community. They embraced my art and passion for recycling.
A glass display case of Horse and Dragon bottle cap earrings, bracelets and necklaces are available for sale at the tasting room at 124 Racquette Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado. The tap room is open everyday twelve to six every day.
My creative process involves starting with a problem and then looking for a solution. Sometimes the answers come while I am driving or working on something else—the idea just needs to be planted.
And so it goes with neckties. They languished in a bin for years. The silk ones were separated and given to a quilter who turned them into a quilt titled “Wall Street”. The polyester, dacron, rayon and other ties just went into a plastic storage tub as I had no idea how they could be used in my art. I really thought about donating them as I felt that my house was reaching Hoarders status, but my friends assured me my décor was just Organized Chaos.
The problem that presented itself was I needed to develop a man’s shirt. I thought about it for months. At first, my thinking was to just use “manly” material for the gusset at the back and my stash of neckties would be used to embellish the cuffs and the collar.
In a meeting with a very good friend , a master creator, accomplished artists and inventor, I ran my idea of the Manly Shirt at a brainstorming session over coffee. She suggested that I use a tie for the gusset in the back.
I first I dismissed this crazy idea, but the more I thought about it, I realized this was the perfect solution. Instead of a man or woman wearing a tie in the front, the tie was adorning the shirt at the back. It was sort of a reversal and, therefore, a surprise. The old saying about the mullet hairstyle came to mind, “Business in front, party in back.”
Now I started dismantling ties for the gusset, ironing them and pairing them up with shirts that would work for those particular prints, stripes and colors. I also discovered I needed more ties—so it was off to Senior Day at the ARC Thrift Store. Imagine my surprise when I found a peek-a-boo tie, and naturally I kept that for myself.
Peek-a-boo ties were the rage in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Inside the lining of a tie was a secret silk screened image of a sexy pinup girl, which echoes my philosophy about my new style of man’s shirt, “Business in the front, party in the back.”
(For the images for this blog entry, I would use four shirts, but four different ones so you could show two fronts and two backs and that way you could show four designs. Also, I would have all of the ironed. Of course include the peek-a-boo tie.)