Upcycle the old and embrace the new

What seems like trash to one person, becomes the vision of something unique and beautiful to others. PHOTOS: Supplied

Old clothes, plastic bags, forgotten materials, and objects alike are often left to gather dust and eventually thrown out in the trash.

A local creative, Thato Mohlomi, has recently turned his focus to the fashion side of recycling, or rather to the process of upcycling material and used old clothes and crisp packets to create new conceptual pieces. He said it has become so popular that he barely has any to keep for himself.

Thato Mohlomi said that his upcycled items appeals to consumers because something old has been given “new life” at a cheaper cost. PHOTO: Supplied

“I discovered upcycling through two other fashion designers on Instagram … The best part of upcycling is that you turn the old into new and it’s also cheap. The way I do most of my upcycled projects is in such a way that it stands out (for me),” he said.

An upcycled Lay’s packet turned into a bag made by Thato Mohlomi. PHOTO: Supplied

Xola Brilliant Sello is an artist whose choice of medium was inspired by the idea of ‘using what you have to accomplish what you do not have’. With that in mind, he started collecting different types of surfaced mediums like different types of papers, wooden planks as a primary source of paper and collected perspex.

Xola Brilliant Sello entered the New Breed Art Competition in which he was fortunate enough to be awarded the Merit Award and exhibit at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum. PHOTO: Supplied

He told Bloemfontein Courant that upcycling can help many people in different communities enhance their creativity, especially in the city of Bloemfontein. “We have artists who create art by collecting and burning plastic, wood sculptors who go around the city looking for burnished trees (trunks), metal, wire, and paper sculptors, and many more. So far works of those artists have already minimised threats to environmental health, and there is still more to be discovered for the planet to be saved,” he explained.

Duane Benadie said that upcycling can not only be a good start to cleaning Bloemfontein, but also a source of income. PHOTO: Supplied

Upcycling is furthermore an opportunity to earn an income. Duane Benadie, who makes and sells furniture from pallets, started his business in 2015 when he experienced a challenge in the pallet repairing business.

“Suddenly I had no more income and stacks of pallet wood. I always loved woodwork so I decided to start making pallet furniture. I make anything you can make with wood, from beds, tables, and cupboards to bars, shop fittings, and cladding walls. It’s a big win for me, I turned my hobby into my job and love going to work every day,” he explained.

He added that almost anything can be used for a new purpose and that locals should just let their imagination inspire them.

“It is all in the way you look at things. What seems like trash to one person, becomes the vision of something unique and beautiful to others. It is a creative outlet and a wonderful way to help the environment,” he concluded.

Gypseenia Lion