Quinn, my daughter of 21 months, and I had a bit more time on our hands when Corona hit. Instead of whisking her away to exhibitions or playdates we spent a lot more time pushing our own creative boundaries in my studio. We started designing into everything we could find and pouring over artistic books from our shelves. Old clothes, scraps of paper, things destined for the landfill, all was our treasure to explore and rework. After a while I realized some of the clothes we were upcycling could be used to solve a serious problem that had been bothering me for ages. Before I had her I worked in the 2nd worst polluting industry in the world, Fashion. It sickened me that my creativity was feeding a machine that was eating up her future. I loved to create but I wanted to be part of solutions that she would be proud of and want to follow. Lockdown gave us the extra time to discover the magic of upcycling clothing and inspired me to start a book. I wanted to teach others simple tricks to make their wardrobe incredible. Why consume more or discard something that can keep being revived through your own expression. Even better I wanted to teach others how to bring their child into the making process and let them design their own wardrobe. What better way to combat fast fashion then to show the next generation the value of clothing and the power of their own creativity. The first chapter is on painting into our clothes so I drew from the Lascaux Caves, our species first recorded artistic beginnings. There is something unspeakably beautiful about the simple repeated shapes of our hands outlined in pigment blown through hollow bones. There is one theory that these caves were painted by pregnant women who might have been the only members of the tribe with enough time resting indoors to reach for something deeper than just survival. When I showed Quinn books of these works she reacted excitedly exclaiming, “Hand! Hand!” She loves to make handprints in any medium, a simple connection with the material and an identifier both universal and all her own. We tried replicating the Lascaux Caves with spray bottles of paint into fabrics and paper. The idea that these ancient mothers were reaching through time and still inspiring the youngest of minds today filled me with gratitude for the healing nature of art. It may have been a hard year with many setbacks but my daughter’s burgeoning mind and my ability to give back through sustainable teaching kept us feeling light and full of possibility. It’s incredible how loss of freedom can open up so much and how slowing and looking back for inspiration can bring the newest change.
If you are interested in learning to upcycle clothing or want to teach the small ones in your life to upcycle please find us at https://www.instagram.com/genupcycle/