Does handmade = upcycled?

10 Nov

Yesterday I was researching online and stumbled across a friend’s music video – the props and set are virtually all handmade.

But does something handmade necessarily make it upcycled? I’ve been thinking about this question since I first discovered an impressive book on India’s vast array of handicrafts – Handmade in India.

I started flicking through it while loitering in the Full Circle Bookstore in N Block Market, Greater Kailash, and began wondering how many of the featured handicrafts could be considered upcycling.

Some examples appear to meet our definition (taking disposable or discarded things and repurposing them into valuable, useful, or simply aesthetically pleasing items): papier mache masks and effigies or felted Gabba rugs made from old woollen fabrics mixed with waste cotton are two examples.

But what about Kashta Kari (wood carving) or Varaq Ka Kaam (edible gold and silver foil)? They’re using raw materials aren’t they? Is this necessarily a bad thing? And what about the importance of preserving different forms of cultural and artistic expression? Who knows, they could be as important to human survival as the planet’s biological diversity.

So something made by hand doesn’t automatically mean it’s been upcycled and an upcycled product could always be manufactured by automated machines.

But, arguably, the best kind of upcycling is done by hand. Why?

1. It saves on unnecessary energy use in running machines and factories.

2. There are less virgin materials needed so there is less environmental impact.

3. It challenges us to be highly creative and innovative because we are working with limited resources.

4. There is a direct connection between product and creator, a feeling of joy or satisfaction that comes from making something with your own hands.

Upcycling, for me, is a natural extension of handmade, it’s handicraft done with greater awareness of connections and consequences: it’s about making something with hand, head and heart.

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4 Responses to “Does handmade = upcycled?”

  1. Melanie November 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    Great!!Your doing a marvelous job!Enjoyed the artists music also,very talented!!!Thanks 🙂

  2. pia November 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    5. It keeps people in jobs.

    Love this post Liz, and LOVE the music + video! thank you so much for sharing.

    • Liz Franzmann November 11, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

      Absolutely Pia, and as the idea catches on, hopefully it’ll create some new jobs…Thanks for your support!

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