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General upcycling tips

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This month, I’m going back to basics for upcycling tips and ideas.

The word ‘upcycle’ was developed by a German engineer, Professor Reiner Piltz. In 1990, he urged people to restore old things in a way that would enhance their beauty and value. He may have been ahead of his time, but his upcycle concept is a key trend today in interior design, fashion and craft.

I come from Africa, where we are not good with naming things—we just do it. When I moved to England 10 years ago, recycling, upcycling and downcycling were new words to my vocabulary, but with insight and reading, I discovered that these were the very things that we were already doing everyday.

It’s a wonderful feeling to save something from landfill and make it beautiful and functional again. Not everyone has experienced this feeling, and many people hide behind lack of creativity; but with these easy tips, I’m sure you can discover it for yourself.

Tip 1 The most important thing is the desire to create something new out of an existing object.

Tip 2 You must be willing to use some elbow grease.

Tip 3 Decide on your project. Keep it simple for your first time.

Tip 4 Research DIY/craft knowledge from tutorials online, in books and from friends. (If you get it wrong it can cost you a lot of unnecessary expense, and put you off an exciting hobby.)

Tip 5 Find an object to upcycle. If you don’t already have one, visit your local recycling centre, charity shop, or car boot sale. Alternatively, ask on social media or visit eBay or Gumtree online.

Tip 6 If you haven’t done any craft or DIY work before, you need to acquire the necessary equipment.

Tip 7 Be kind to the environment: use chemicals and paint in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tip 8 Be imaginative: think outside the ordinary and you will be surprised what you can create.

Tip 9 Be kind to yourself; if the first attempt didn’t turn out as you imagined, do more research and try again.

Tip 10 Enjoy it and be proud of your own work.

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