After school today I hopped in my car and drove from my job in the middle of the country to Shaker Heights to pay a visit to one of my new favorite places to shop. Collective Upcycle is operating a pop-up shop from now through Christmas Eve on Shaker Square. Although the artists featured at Collective Upcycle work in a variety of mediums, all have one thing in common: the raw materials for their work come from previously used objects.
Make no mistake, this is NOT a store filled with cheese plates made from flattened wine bottles. Collective Upcycle is a place to shop and to be inspired by the myriad of ways in which artists have reinvented the materials that they work with. On my visit today, I saw purses made out of old neckties,
bracelets made out of bicycle chains,
and sturdy, colorful shopping totes made from what many believe to be disposable grocery bags,
Although I didn't buy one, I was particularly taken with the exquisite jewelry made from wire and vinyl flooring samples. I saw a lot of this material at Zerolandfill over the summer and couldn't figure out what anyone would do with it, but someone had a brilliant idea.
One of my favorite artists, Kris Barnes, had several of her Knitwits on display.
I was excited to see that her mama, Carol, had work for sale as well, including several versions of this adorable elephant made from telephone wire.
The Shaker Square store is the third pop-up endeavor for Nicole McGee and the rest of the Collective Upcycle team. They began last year at Trinity Cathedral during the holiday season and appeared this summer in the Gordon Square Arts District. The fact that they are able to temporarily add beauty and energy to empty storefronts is part of what makes Collective Upcycle so amazing to me. Not only are the artists able to repurpose what some might consider "trash" into wonderful, functional art work but, by its transient nature, the business itself does not leave a permanent footprint on any of the spaces it occupies.
I had two reasons for visiting Collective Upcycle today. One was to collect the prize I won in an online giveaway last week. Nicole presented me with a basket of choices and I picked a sweet little red clutch made from a vintage dress. The second reason for my visit was to buy the shrug I'd been thinking about since I saw it on my visit at the end of November.
On that trip I passed on the shrug because I found and purchased a dress remade from an out-of-date style into something fun and modern. I've worn it at least once a week since I bought it and it is both comfortable and cute. It even has side pockets!
Anyway, since I bought the dress on that trip, I felt weird and selfish buying two things for myself at the beginning of the Christmas season, so I didn't get the shrug, but returned to buy it today. I can't help it, I've never seen anything like it before. I've knit a few shrugs of my own, but it never occured to me to create one from the pieces of several old sweaters. I really like how all of the colors work together on this one.
If you're like me and haven't quite finished making decisions about Christmas presents, you really should check out Collective Upcycle. It is an ideal and rare combination of fun, creative and environmentally responsible.