Crafting sustainably is more than choosing natural and renewable materials over processed ones—it can also mean repurposing what might otherwise end up in the trash.
In The Art of Upcycling (Page Street, Oct.), DIYer Emma Foss guides readers through rescuing thrift store finds, recyclables, landfill-bound detritus, and outdated homewares. The book’s projects include a thrifted ceramic cat turned lamp, stained “glass” made from plastic bags, and an earring tree made out of K-Cups.
Page Street editor Elliot Wren Phillips found Foss on TikTok, where her @ystreetstudio feed has more than 509,000 followers. Foss’s creations are somewhat whimsical but also functional, they say, and the book’s tutorials teach readers upcycling techniques in woodworking, painting, and upholstery.
Phillips was on the lookout for upcycling books after witnessing the popularity of Bernadette Banner’s 2022 debut, Make, Sew and Mend, which they say is one of Page Street’s bestselling titles. Banner’s book is about refashioning and maintaining one’s wardrobe, and Phillips adds that they’ve noticed an appetite for all kinds of upcycling tips on Reddit, where they also get leads. “People are looking at what they need versus what they don’t need, and what they can make at home versus buy,” they say. “Some of it’s for sustainability reasons, but I think a lot of it’s just practicality.”
Where The Art of Upcycling covers a lot of ground with its variety of projects, Tom Knisely’s Rags to Rugs (Stackpole, Nov.) focuses on handweaving repurposed fabrics into ground coverings. In the book, Knisely, who has taught weaving for more than 30 years and currently leads workshops at the Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center in York Haven, Pa., instructs readers on using a loom to turn old T-shirts, jeans, and linens into durable floor mats.
In the weaving world, “rag” refers to working with pieces of fabric—not necessarily recycled castaways—rather than yarn or thread. Knisely’s 2014 debut, Weaving Rag Rugs, focused store-bought fabric. Stackpole crafts acquisitions editor Candi Derr says that after the publication of Weaving Rag Rugs, readers asked about “using real rags in rag rugs—things that would otherwise be tossed out.”
Since then, Derr says she’s seen more interest in crafters repurposing what they already have, such as knitters and crocheters cutting up old T-shirts to use as yarn, stemming from a desire not to be wasteful. Rags to Rugs plugs into that ethos, providing an upcycling opportunity for clothing and linens that might not be in good enough shape to donate, but might just make for a handwoven rug that can last for years to come.