Upcycling gives a second life to furniture that would otherwise end up in landfill – but it isn’t always glamorous.
The first of our Your upcycling attempts: Triumph or Travesty? series looks at Sarah Peterson.
Sarah, who’s based at the Tayside Upcycling & Craft Centre in Errol, says there can be ups and downs to the craft.
“I started off upcycling in my bedroom, making things for my family,” she said.
“I’ve always been a bit of an upcycler. I hate throwing things out.”
Sarah’s site displays the wealth of upcycles she has created over the years.
However, the artist admits that it’s “never straightforward.”
Upcycling triumph for Sarah on Money for Nothing show
Sarah has been upcycling for around 10 years.
She has shared with us what she believes is her finest creation to date.
“One of my best upcycles is one I did on the [BBC] programme Money For Nothing,” she said.
“They gave me some old wooden beams that had all these ancient nails left in them.
“When I saw them, I thought: what on earth am I going to do with them?”
“I had no idea how it was going to turn out.
“But I actually ended up making these lamps out of the beams.
“That’s the upcycle that I’m most proud of.”
Each upcycle is a journey
Perseverance has been a key theme throughout Sarah’s upcycling journey. She refuses to let a job go unfinished.
“They all end up looking good in the end, but it’s the journey that you take with it.
“There are a few moments where I’ve thought: oh my lord, what have I taken on here?”
Sarah admitted there are times when there are so many issues with a piece of furniture that it’s incredibly difficult to fix.
She said: “But I always do my best to finish them.”
For Sarah, the challenge is half the fun.
“If it’s easy, it’s not worth it. I get to be creative and I love it.
“There are difficult moments here and there, but I really enjoy the challenge.”
Change it, don’t chuck it
The artisan’s skills have been showcased on several series of the BBC show, in which she and others upcyclers around the UK help save items from the skip.
Now people come from far and wide to see her creations up close – and benefit from her experience and advice.
Sarah, 50, founded the Tayside Upcycling & Craft Centre with her husband, Alfie Ianetta. They recently surpassed 20 tonnes of furniture sold.
The not for profit group is passionate about reducing the amount of homeware waste.
10 million household items are sent to landfill every year in the UK, say Reuse Network.
“I want to try and make my own little impact on the amount of stuff that gets thrown in the skip,” Sarah told me.
The Scottish Government say that behaviour changes are necessary to prevent waste like this. This includes thinking more consciously about the purchasing and disposing of furniture.
For those ready to throw out their old furniture, Sarah advises they “should think more about what they’re doing.”
“Always think about changing it rather than just throwing it out. Because it is such a waste.”
Fight the fear factor, says Money for Nothing upcycling star Sarah
Instore, Sarah and the other TUCC shop artisans offer an advice service where they go through upcycling basics.
She says there are a few things to keep in mind when you start.
“When people first step into upcycling, it can be quite daunting.
“I would say, just take your time. Don’t be scared of it.
“If it’s just a little table that you’re painting and it doesn’t work out, you can sand it off and start again.”
A lot of people would just give up along the way. You have to be able to persevere.
Sarah Peterson, lead artisan at the TUCC shop
Money for Nothing upcycling guru Sarah advises that taking the right steps the first time round can save you a lot of faff.
“Preparation is so important.
“It’s like baking a cake. You want to have all the ingredients out in front of you rather than running around the kitchen trying to find them.”
“When you start an upcycle, you never really know what you’re working with until you take it apart. Some of them hold more secrets than others.
“So it’s never straightforward.
“A lot of people would just give up along the way. You have to be able to persevere.”
Follow along with us this month as we share upcycling triumphs and travesties in Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Fife and Angus every Wednesday in November.
Have you experienced your own triumphs or travesties when upcycling? Get in touch so we can celebrate or commiserate over your creations.