Straw into Gold

IMG_1622 You know what totally ‘rocks my world’? I absolutely LOVE turning garbage into treasure, using discarded things as materials to be creative. The most empowering part of my making process, is to ascertain textile (and sometimes other) waste and find creative reuse for that discarded material. Today, most of the raw materials used in my making process come from local thrift stores and kind donations from friends and strangers. (Keep an eye out for my next Clothing Drive.)

The idea of creating with new material  overwhelms me. It is hard to imagine what would be worthy to add to the plethora of stuff in a world so full. Utilitarian recycling works for me.

Mountain of Textile Waste in Bangaladesh

My life has come to include teaching, speaking, and creating goods made one by one with discarded clothing and scrap fabric as my raw material and inspiration. As my Limited Access social experiment continues, I work to establish the most productive use of my online time, which amounts to the best way to nurture and build my business.


This online journal is fulfilling, and the focus helpful. It is a tool for selling my wares, spreading the word about my classes, events, and engagements.  A sounding board for my wildest goals and grand efforts to change the way the world sees waste.  May my work encourage all sorts of people to support hand-makers, creatively-reuse, and teach and inspire by example. It is my hope that together we can have a shared impact great enough to be noticed.

Blanket Statement I love blankets. Blankets are functional textile displays of the individual heritage alive in every culture of the world. I make blankets that are just that. Created from used textiles collected from discarded clothing that is so prolific in our wasteful way here in the grand 'ole US of A.09.07.15.Trip.1

I cut up wool, cashmere, alpaca, and mohair sweaters, jeans, corduroys and anything else made with mostly natural, nice quality cloth. Cut shapes are pieced, even collaged, together using one of several alternative sewing techniques developed over the last 25 years.

Function is key so the processes used are geared toward long lasting use and heirloom quality. These materials and techniques are used to create blankets from the smallest crib sized snugglers to larger bed sized blankets. The process translates well to wearable pieces, smaller in scale allow for more detailed and intricacy.

The BEST news is that Shire City Sanctuary is hosting my Blanket, Shawl, and Scarf Immersion Workshop on September 26 and 27!


Students will be introduced to an array of construction techniques using hand and machine sewing on home and industrial sewing equipment.

Pieces will be cut with scissors, rotary cutting tools, and even die cut using a clicker press. The workshop spans two full days filled with creative high jinx literally turning a pile of clean laundry into a beautiful stack of handmade blankets, shawls, and scarves!

The process is empowering and deeply connected to our shared cultural history. Finished pieces most often contain pieces cut from many garments that have been worn and discarded by others. There is nostalgia in there, a history of a time past and a person who contributed cloth to the project in the act of discarding their garment.

Materials are affordable, common and accessible. Construction techniques are skillfully taught without judgment or pressure. There is no experience necessary although sewing machine comfort is helpful.

The use of all tools and materials are included in the cost of tuition, however, if specific colors are needed students are asked to bring those materials with them. All materials should be machine washed and dried prior to the workshop.

Register here:

Feel free to leave a comment below if you have questions or would like additional information about this workshop. Oh and if you miss this one, my 2016 Workshop schedule will be released Sept 30 – stay tuned!

ReConsumerEYES: Recycling/Handmade/Thrift Shoppin'

by Lorne HoldenThrift Shop ONE

A few years ago, I saw a man named John Perkins interviewed on TV. Perkins is the author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” which describes his life as exactly that – an economic hit man. His job was to to convince countries that are strategically important to the U.S. to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development, and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to U. S. corporations. Then, saddled with gigantic debts, the countries became beholden to the U.S. government.

Ultimately, he had an awakening which prompted a re-evaluation of his life. He re-dedicated himself to a life with real values. He wrote his book and told his story after 9/11, when he felt that world events compelled him to do so.

The TV interview was interesting because he talked about many simple ways that people can live a more thoughtful life – a life that is less hurtful to others and to the planet. And the thing that I remember most was that he spoke about the simple importance of buying clothing at Thrift shops. He pointed out that re-cycled clothing not only creates less waste but helps stem the tide of oppressive circumstances for the many people working in terrible conditions in sweatshops around the world.


Thrift Shop Store Sign

I've been a Thrift Shop fan my whole life but until that moment, I had never made this bigger, more important connection. I hadn't put together that purchasing re-cycled clothing could actually he considered a political/philosophical act, and that I could see that act as an extension of the ideals with which I live my life as a whole. But the experience isn't even just about me, and about how I want to live my life. Many Thrift Shops are run by organizations that assist society on a larger level, providing training, jobs and sustenance to people who are disabled or disadvantaged. Here's an example of what a few major thrift stores support:

- Goodwill Industries: Provides vocational rehabilitation and support for the disabled.

- Salvation Army: Provides shelter, food, job training and spiritual guidance to the poor.

- Oxfam: Runs development efforts in Third World nations.

09.11.14 Marian's Dress1Taking the re-cycled clothing idea even further are the many ingenious creators who make new clothing out of old clothing, making unique one of a kind creations. And of course, this site celebrates the work and imagination of one of the greats, Crispina herself.

Take a moment to think about the clothes you wear and where they come from. Would a swing by a Thrift Shop work for you, instead of heading to a mall? Could you arrange a clothing swap with friends so that your clothes get a second chance to delight someone else? Or might you want to dive into the adventure that is making something new out of something old? Have a look at the list on the right – Crispina has some workshops coming up and one might be just right for you. You would spend a great day with great people and come home with a piece of clothing that is also a work of art.

Remember that all of our daily experiences add up. Where you purchase your clothing can have a beneficial or detrimental effect on the lives of others and the planet as a whole. Be a clothing adventurer and look for your next treasure at at Thrift Shop or better yet - make it yourself!



Budapest Thrift ShopLorne Holden is an artist and author of the Bestselling book "MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done." Pictured at left if a great thrift shop Lorne discovered on a recent trip to Budapest, Hungary. Learn more about her at:

ReConsumerEyes - Plastic Bag Ban

By Lorne Holden

09.08.14 PB Ban GB LH15

On March 1 of this year, the wonderful town of Great Barrington, MA made a bold move and banned the use of retail plastic bags in all stores . This splendid act made the town the first community in Western Massachusetts to implement such a ban. Great Barrington joins three other towns in Massachusetts who have done the same thing: Nantucket, Brookline and Manchester-by-the-Sea.

09.08.14 PB Ban GB LH14

I do most of my shopping in Great Barrington and in the weeks following the ban, I was overcome with joy each time I saw no plastic bags being used at the grocery store. I was accustomed to seeing piles of plastic bags in peoples carts as they left the store. I was even used to hearing the snap and whoosh of the bags bas they were pulled off their stands, opened and filled. But there was new space and quiet in the stores now. Things were tidier. Less junky.

This got me thinking...

Just how many bags were NOT being used now that the ban was in effect?

I began taking an informal survey. I asked the manager at one of the large chain grocery stores. What was the count of bags now not being used? She looked at me with glassy eyes. I tried again. Could she give me an estimate of how many bags were used before the ban took effect? (She was amazed I was interested. I was stunned she was amazed.) “Fifteen thousand in general,” was her answer. “A month?” I asked. “A week,” she answered. “More during the holidays.”

5-pack of The Thank You Bag by Jelledge on Etsy

My brain scrambled to do some quick math. Fifteen thousand bags a week added up to 60 thousand bags a months or 720,000 bags a year. One store. One small town in New England. Nearly three quarters of a million plastic bags a year. Except the number is actually higher if you count the extra bags used during the holidays.

I continued my quest for the numbers. The high end fresh food market used 250,000 a year and the national chain office supply store used 110,000.

So, doing my best guesstimating math, I added up the numbers from the two large grocery stores, one high end market, the office supply store and a national budget store and got a whopping 2.6 million bags that WILL NOT BE USED AND DISCARDED. It is a staggering number from one small town.

There are 296 towns and 55 cities in Massachusetts. Can you imagine the impact if a ban was implemented state wide? I just multiplied the town/city number times 2.6 million bags and my calculator blew a gasket, started to smoke and couldn't even display the answer because the number was so high. Whew!

Recently, there was great and inspiring news. California implemented such a ban statewide at the end of August 2014. Prior to this, the state was spending 25 million dollars sending plastic bags to landfills and another 8.5 million dollars to remove littered bags from the streets. It is also estimated the Californians were using and disposing ten billion plastic bags a year. Ten billion.

So now we have four towns in Massachusetts. One big state out west. Let's keep going. Get involved where you live and make it happen in your town. We can do it. Let's de-bag the planet!

Reuseable Bulk Bags by kootsac on Etsy


Lorne Holden is an artist and the author of the Amazon Bestseller “Make It Happen in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.” Learn more about her at:  Learn more about Lorne, as a Freak of the Week right here.

Scrap Bag Challenge - Kimberly Egan

Each artist who participated in the First EVER Scrap Bag Challenge that ran from March 22, 2014 til Earthday, and answered my virtual interview questions will be featured here over the next few weeks. The Scrap Bag Challenge took place, on the fly, as a part of the unearthing and purging in my studio.  As Shire City Sanctuary comes to be, my studio shrinks with glee - allowing me renewed freedom from stuff  and allowing our Makerspace room to accommodate a sewing room, screen printing shop, and teaching space.

We had over 50 responses within 24 hours of posting on facebook and sending our eblast announcement!  50 boxes were shipped across the world from Germany to Australia to our neighbors here in Pittsfield!  Wowsers!  The EXCITEMENT!!

Next up, Kimberly Egan! She is our neighbor here in Pittsfield.  Thanks for participating Kimberly!  Take a look and her HANDSEWN argyle!  She ROCKS IT!

05.27.14 Kimberly Egan


1.     Three sentences about you – anything you want.

Hmmm....let's see.  I'm a wife and Mom - my husband, Dennis, my son, Matthew, and my daughter, Gabby are the loves of my life.  I'm a photography buff, and I love cooking, reading, knitting and sports.  I'm also a technology enthusiast - love my gadgets!

2.     What additional materials did you use to complete your Challenge?

To complete my challenge, I used parts of two other sweaters I had previously felted (and not on purpose!) and some embroidery floss.

3.     How were you inspired to create what you made?

As I mentioned, I love gadgets.  My husband bought me a new iPad air for my birthday last year, and it made me crazy that none of the accessories for the old iPad fit the new one.  Rather than buy new, I figured I'd try making one!

4.     What’s your fondest Recycled/Reused experience?

This challenge - hands down!  Not only was I able to create something functional and fun, but I learned a lot through the process.  I can't wait to make other things with the scraps I still have left!

5.     If you could give advise to a large group of people what would it be?

My advice would be to take note of the simple pleasures in everyday life.  Never waste an opportunity to turn them into great memories.

Scrap Bag Challenge - Chelle Mayer

Each artist who participated in the First EVER Scrap Bag Challenge that ran from March 22, 2014 til Earthday, and answered my virtual interview questions will be featured here over the next few weeks. The Scrap Bag Challenge took place, on the fly, as a part of the unearthing and purging in my studio.  As Shire City Sanctuary comes to be, my studio shrinks with glee - allowing me renewed freedom from stuff  and allowing our Makerspace room to accommodate a sewing room, screen printing shop, and teaching space.

We had over 50 responses within 24 hours of posting on facebook and sending our eblast announcement!  50 boxes were shipped across the world from Germany to Australia to our neighbors here in Pittsfield!  Wowsers!  The EXCITEMENT!!

Next up, Chelle Mayer! Wowsers a labor of love and ingenuity ~

05.21.14 Chelle Meyer

Chelle made a gameboard.  Cut, handsewn and woven together with intricate hand sewn weaving.  There are checkers in the works made from baseballs.

Chelle Meyer

Three sentences about you – anything you want.

I’m a multi media artist living with my two dogs and a gazillion partially finished projects.  Dislikes include cigarette smoke and ketchup, loves include seeing stories in the clouds, chill’ins, making stuff out of what others discard and discovering pieces I never dreams of seeing, let alone making.  My works are colorful, chaotically organized with vibrant colors and bold lines.

  1. What additional materials did you use to complete your Challenge?

Addition materials I used are: yarn (six different ones I think), 2 yarn needles (one dull for weaving, one sharp for constructing) and a coffee bean bag

  1. How were you inspired to create what you made?

When I signed onto the challenge I had decided I would make something wearable and crazy, unpacking the scraps late at night took place on a round table with a character checker board I painted.  Tiredly I just dove into them a started creating squares and had the board fully cut before going to bed, thought I had dreamed it until I saw them all laid out with five potential yarn skeins that I used bits of four of.

  1. What’s your fondest Recycled/Reused experience?

One of my favorite recycled pieces that I have was made with my kids, a box paper mache-ed with green and pink construction paper which made it nice and sturdier for books.  The experience was left great memories., the colors are yummy and I still have it.

  1. If you could give advise to a large group of people what would it be?

Be who you like to hang out with and what others think of you is none of your Buckin’ Fusiness.

Freak of the Week ~ Chrisie Cordrey

Every week I feature a notable maker here on my blog.  Share around my inspiration so that you, too can see the magic that surrounds me.  Enjoy.

My name is Chrisie Cordrey and I have a lil’ biz called Corduroy Shop! It’s a place where I take old furniture along with vintage or antique textiles and make them dazzle!! In the process of seeing what’s possible from these amazing ingredients, I utilize traditional upholstery methods which are incredibly more earth friendly and yield great, long lasting results!

My workshop is located at 26 Gardina Lane, Ghent NY 12075. ring 518-598- 9550. Can make an appointment to see me and/or my work is available at Ida’s Eye, 711 Warren St in Hudson NY. Open Th-Sun, 11-5.

I met Crispina when I came to live in this area for the second time(this time to stay!). I’d been buying her work for years and delighting my home with her energy but now I was engaging in ‘making stuff’ so we connected! I think I went to her studio for a visit!

Cff: What is your current passion? My life, probably! I’m in a new chapter. I’m making with my hands. There are challenges every day. It’s rich!

Cff: How did you find that passion? While raising my son, as he got older, I always knew I’d want a next chapter and what would that be? My work is the compilation of what I love! Working with my hands, working with textiles, studying the handwork on some of these textiles, taking old things and seeing what’s possible with them!! Yup, that’s what I love!

Cff: Who/What has been most influential in your work? It’s the ingredients I find that determine the work! And aside from that, my Mom, Peg, who was an amazing seamstress!!

Cff: What keeps you on the path you have chosen? Passion!

Cff: Where do you find your inspiration/motivation? I look around and certain things just jump out! Usually the pieces I find provide all I need to get working and feel inspired! Most everything I use has had many lives before I am a part of it! I love that!!

Cff: Aside from working, how do you spend your time? Between my house and my barn and THIS winter, I keep a lot of fires going! : ) That’s been much of my time as of late! I love history, esp 18th C so I’ll attend any lecture I can find on that. I learn more and more about upholstery which I find endlessly fascinating!

Cff: What is one of your most transforming memories? Hmmmm, there are many but this one comes to mind........For most of my adult life I have lived in the coastal towns of So Calif. I was involved in the surf industry through both my career and later, my marriage. There was a day when I walked into a gardening shop (did I mention I’m NOT a gardener?) and I came upon this book. It was about some lady in Vermont named Tasha Tudor! I bought it. I bought everything I could find on her. I learned from her that there are endless ways that one can live this thing called ‘life’.

Cff: Do you have a prized possession? What is it? Yes, I love my wedding bracelet(no longer married but he’s a good pal and I love the bracelet) and my harvest table that I’ve moved with me everywhere!

Cff: Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience.

My first winter in the northeast was the result of needing a change and some time to reflect. It was meant to be a 1 year adventure with my son(10 years old) to give both his dad and myself, time apart. We rented a house in the country in upstate NY within walking distance to my son’s school. The school had a farm and our house only heated by a wood burning stove. At this point I must remind you that we were fresh from life lived in southern CA.

I’d not yet encountered a wood stove in my travels!! It was the most magical, fulfilling year of my life! My heart never left this area!

Cff: If you were able to prepare a meal for anyone – dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to discuss with that person? What would you serve?

Probably Eleanor of Aquitaine. The discussion would be endless! I’d want to serve her something French!

Cff: What is your favorite color? Why? chartreuse!!! it’s just awesome!

Cff: What is your favorite place to spend time? Here in this amazing area in which I live. Between NY, MA, VT and CT, I’m completely consumed!

Cff: What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months? Marketing! I’m 100% in my business now so it’s time to make things align and get momentum.

Cff: What/who is your community? Probably my living community is the Hawthorne Valley Farm (it’s a school, farm and organic market) group that I live amongst. It’s full of thinkers and people that care about the planet and the food they eat and the footprint they leave! It’s also a spiritually conscious group!!

Cff: Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.

THIS WEEKEND, FEBRUARY 15TH!!! OPEN HOUSE IN THE BARN 3:00-7:00 26 Gardina Lane Ghent NY, 12075 (right off of the Taconic Parkway)

ring 518-598-955 contact: Chrisie Cordrey FB has lots of pics at CorduroyShop Furniture and pillows of recycled textiles! *a point of view* 


Vendor Profile | Lou's Upcycles

Lou's Upcycles | Lou Leelyn, Ecoartist | Wendell, MA 1.  The first thing I remember making was a marshmallow snowman family in preschool.  Three towering marshmallows with cloves for eyes and fabric scraps for the clothes. They finally broke down after 30 years and I had to say goodbye to them last Christmas when the high fructose corn syrup met it's match with the high humidity of western mass summers.   My mom kept every single handmade debacle I ever created so I've been able to track the hits and misses over the years.  I was so fortunate, as many of us were, to early education teachers who knew the benefit of creativity in the classroom.

2.  I knew then that one could make anything they wanted by looking around to see what materials were available.  Since then, I have rarely gone to the store to shop for supplies, everything could be made with what's on hand.

3. Today's passion stems from our unabashed consumption and waste.  I continue to use things that are destined for the waste stream by turning them into fun, educational and activist pieces of creative work.

4.  In my music player you'll find everything from Baroque to Bob Dylan, Afrobeat to Ambient Electronica.  I can turn on and off a mood with one touch of the play button.  Music and art are why I get up in the morning.

5.  Chocolate cake.  Does this even have to be debated?  The only details to work out are whether it's flourless and is there ice cream on the side.