Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guild Upcycling Challenge

This year I and the ladies of my guild voted unanimuosly for an upcycling project as our annual member challenge. Upcycling, also known as repurposing, is the practice of taking items that already exist and remaking or refurbishing them in some way to make them into something new (think of it as creative recycling.)

The challenge rules: the used quilt or quilted object can be of any size or dimension, but it must come from a thrift shop and cost no more than $10.00. The materials we use to upcycle it must also come from our existing supplies; no purchasing new notions, fabrics, embellishments or any other supplies for the project.

I like the Hospice thrift store in our town, which gives all its proceeds to Hospice patients and their families, so I went over to talk to the ladies there and see if they had any donations of old quilts that had come in. They had only one old, musty summer quilt/throw made of taffeta, lame and velvet and what I thought might be flocked lame. It badly needed washing and frankly, smelled to high heavens, but something about it grabbed me. They sold it to me for $5.00, and I threw in an extra $5.00 as a donation.

I handwashed it, kind of expecting it to fall apart in the process, but it cleaned up much better than I anticipated, and displayed some very nice, rich wine colors:

My guess is that it was once an import throw sold in a specialty gift shop ten or fifteen years ago. They had a lot of mock-crazy quilt type stuff for women who wanted the look but couldn't make or afford the real thing.

Most of the fabric is cheap import stuff, and it's a bit shabby in places, but the velvet has a surprisingly nice hand to it, and all the beading appears to be intact (it has very sparse gold sequin-and-seed-bead accents along the stitch lines, and a pink beaded fringe, none of which I like.)

What appeals to me is how the quilt still catches the light and seems to glow.

I'm getting a very distinct Roman vibe from this one, but I'm going to let it hang in the workroom for a few days and look at it while I think about what to do with it. I'll post updates after I start upcycling.


nightsmusic said...

Is there a target finished size? Or just wherever the muse leads you? The colors are beautiful though and I can see a lot of potential in it. It will be nice to see how you redesign it.

Lynn Viehl said...

There was no target size specified in the rules, Theo, and since this will be a display piece versus something used as bedding (which was determined by the fabrics; I never design anything for use as bedding unless it can be machine washed for convenience) I don't think I'm going to enlarge it.

It has kind of a majestic personality, as if it wants to be something much grander than was originally intended. I keep thinking of gold coins, garnets and goddesses. :)

nightsmusic said...

I got a bit of a Scheherazade feel when I first saw the picture. The mystery, the elegance, I didn't want to say anything to sway you though, but I think that sounds perfect!