april is stash bust month! you can find more helpful articles on working through your craft or art supply stashes without purchasing anything new this month on dollar store crafts, craft leftovers, cosa verde, crafting a green world, glue and glitter, and swap-bot.
today, i’m bringing you an interview with phoebe of >elsage, where you can find all sorts of fun accessories made from reclaimed fabric & scraps. phoebe has a real passion for making do with what she’s got and seeing things in new ways! phoebe will be back tomorrow with a tutorial for using up some of your own stash!
Since this is stash busting month, tell us about your stash! And where you do find the materials you use?
Where do I begin? I collect all types of things & always have, so I have stuff that goes back to high school that I’ve been toting around with me for 10 years now. I don’t like to throw things away that could have a new life. For example, I have a box full of turquoise paper scraps from making our wedding invites, old wire & buttons that came with shirts in those little envelopes & a box of old calendars & catalogues. Envelops, ribbons from gifts; it’s all stored in my studio.
As for elSage, there are boxes of fabric that have been given (wonderful artist friends & people who were going to toss usable scraps). This is my favorite kind of material because it really drives my designs and it makes a natural sort of a limited edition. As for the materials that I seek out, I look to thrift stores (I ♥ the goodwill), junk stores, antique stores, online vintage supply shops and my parent’s house. My mom brings up all this stuff she’s packed away and leaves it for me (old Pendleton shirts of my dads, vintage buttons, beads, thread). I love when there is a story behind a material, when I’m connected to it; be it through a day of thrifting or something that I grew up with.
Why are you so passionate about using repurposed materials in your work?
I really enjoy seeing things that others would consider trash; take shape into something new and beautiful. I am not a militant environmentalist but the reuse, reduce, repurpose philosophy just makes sense to me. If it already exists, why go make it brand new? These were the starting points for my using repurposed materials but now I really enjoy how the materials drive my design, it’s become part of my creative process. I’m not into making junk, I’m into making things out of it.
When you’re scouting out new items or looking through your stash of supplies, what is your process for envisioning old materials in new ways?
I’m not really sure I can explain this. It definitely changes from day to day. I will be into bows one day and the next it will be veils. I can’t force anything. In a weird way it’s like I have a window to connect with certain materials. So when I’m seeking out materials at say, the goodwill, I look for high quality fabrics that will stand up to repurposing. I love men’s dress shirts; sometimes I go in looking for gray shirts and come out with 70s flower print cowboy shirts.
I think this is what I like best about elSage, that I have enough variety to keep me interested no matter where my creativity is that day: prints, headbands, wedding veils.
I may have gotten this ability to make something out of nothing from my dad & mom. We grew up camping our summers away and have always looked around to find other ways to solve problems. Tapestries became cabanas on the beach & a stick became a shovel. My dad still has some funny little things I made as a kid; a giraffe from scrap wood & nails, a doll from old nylons & a glass bottle. Creativity with the materials at hand was always encouraged.
Have any tips for creative people looking to see their supplies in new ways?
Open up your thinking. Instead of rushing out to buy something, look around and see if you can make something work that you already have. I started elSage with my husband’s give-away pile and some gifted scrap fabric. It will stretch your thinking to look at materials in an ingenious way.
stop over to elsage to check out her beautiful floral accessories, starting at $20 – just perfect for spring outfits!