Upcycled Keepsakes and Vintage Buttons: Preserving Family TraditionsFrancesca Palange
Guest Article by Amanda Chapman
When did it all start my love and passion for up-cycling and vintage? I could say almost 2 years ago after I created myself a keepsake from leftover lace form my wedding dress and some of my late Grandma’s buttons – but actually these passions started long before that.
My Grandma’s were both very resourceful women, but for different reasons; one Grandma had to be, where as my other Grandma was very much made from the ‘make do and mend’ generation. As a little girl I have many fond memories of watching my Grandma’s creativeness; she would knit my dolls with clothes from wool remnants, up-cycle worn flannelette sheets on her sewing machine into beautifully hemmed dusters, and create rag rugs.
I use to love playing with my Grandma’s sewing basket, and button tin; the memories that those buttons held for my Grandma were like magical stories to me as she would describe past occasions, dresses, my Grandad’s army uniform.
As a teenager I would go to table top sales and antique fairs, where I started my collection of vintage photographs. I felt sad to see that someone’s treasured memories and loved ones were cast aside. I once bought a photo album from a then called ‘junk shop’ in the Lake District as I just had an urge to ‘rescue’ it preserve it, and appreciate it again; it was someone’s life catalogued. I still own that album.
In my late teens I hurt my back and started cross stitching, I have always felt a need to be creative and have tried various crafts over the years; cross stitching, dry flower arranging, scrapbooking, and card making, but never found the ‘craft for me’.
After I created the keepsake for myself everything just seemed to fall into place; fate I feel. I could unleash my love of vintage, embrace and add to collections started years ago, and the buzz I got from using pre-loved items was a huge surprise. I get some much satisfaction from using items that were once treasured and loved; that tell their own story, then incorporating them in a piece that tells a new, special ,and personal story.
My business started in my bedroom, until my husband suggested converting the garden store room into a ‘studio’; this is now fondly known as my ‘happy place’. A place where I can be creative, express myself, and be surrounded in my treasured collections.
The whole ethos of my business is to up-cycle vintage linens and other treasures, and to limit buying anything new. This even means sourcing vintage linen button thread, my embroidery silks and hoops; but again this adds to the satisfaction of re-discovering these treasures. You can’t recreate the wear and use on wood, the design of the old vintage embroidery hoops; yes they are increasingly difficult to source but they add something unique to my work.
Also the challenge of looking at objects in a different way; like the photo above – the wedding rings are old brass curtain rings!
My work falls into two categories; the primitive, naive and nostalgic work which incorporates vintage photographs and traditional English romance with flowers, lace, with positive sentiments and personalised. I enjoy creating keepsakes for all occasions; wedding, birth, and in memory pieces. Recently added to my range is printed greeting cards, there six designs to choose from and they are proving popular.
I am currently working on a piece for an exhibition for eco businesses, this is giving me a chance to try new techniques, and get my work recognised.
Doris is my 1940’s Singer sewing machine, to me Doris encompasses everything I admire about vintage; beauty, craftsmanship, honest, and has stood the test of time.
I am pleased that people are now embracing vintage, up-cycling, and appreciating handmade; in fact it has become rather trendy, but this has been a long standing passion of mine. So when did it all start? It’s in my blood; it’s an inherited passion from my much missed Grandparents that not only gave me the most amazing memories, but the respect of the past.
Amanda also has a wedding shop on Etsy
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