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I learned to knit when I was 3 and though I was so young, I discovered the absolute joy of creating things! I felt empowered. I learned to problem solve. I learned to design. I challenged and exercised my creativity. I learned to accept mistakes and understand that they are part of “seeing the hand” in handmade. Knitting opened up an entire world that has and continues to bring me great joy. My mother was an “off the boat” English woman who had lived through WWII. Through that experience she learned many useful skills and developed principles that she passed on to me.I constantly pass these skills and tenets on to numerous students and friends, allowing them to pursue their own creative journeys. So many times I hear people say, “I can’t do that,” to which I reply, “Of course you can. You just need someone to show you how. There is nothing more satisfying than watching the discovery and success on learners faces after they master the first steps of a project.

The past few months of stay at home has led to a similar experience of my own. Out of necessity, boredom or interest, the isolation has put us in touch with our creativity. We have been forced to learn new digital platforms to communicate, express and share our lives more often with those we love. We’ve had to find innovative ways of entertaining our loved ones and ourselves as well. Many of us have used this time to learn a new craft or skill, anything from bread making to mask making and numerous things in-between. We’ve learned to utilize what we have and what is readily available. We’ve learned what we need and what we don’t. We’ve learned to appreciate handmade and the value of human connection. We are in a moment where we can reset and forge a new path forward, personally, professionally and together as a global community.

Some of us, myself included, have been working through the pandemic and may not have had time to explore their creative side. I want to share the Joy of Making with you and have developed a challenge for you (and your family, neighbors, friends, etc.)

Take my upcycled sandal challenge.
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! This challenge is tons of fun for the entire family. Kids under 12 may need some adult help. In this challenge, you’ll come away with a basic understanding about shoe making components and materials along with an understanding of how adhesives work. You’ll also create your very own unique pair of sandals for indoor or outdoor use…a great challenge right down to your feet!

Partnering with various organizations and groups, I‘m challenging people to scour their homes to find 2-3 materials and an adhesive that will allow them to make a simple sandal. The sandal has 3 components, but you just might find a material that will double for 2. The Party sign in the above image can double as insole and outsole.

Upcycle challenge entries I have received stimulated me to re-think my shoe making kits. Using hair ties and placemats you can make your own beach or pool sandals. The placemat provides the fashion and fun, while the hair ties can be organized in a variety of groupings to make your unique 100% indoor or outdoor wearable design.

The first shoes I ever made upcycled components from a pair of well worn sandals and leather and hardware from a Betsey Johnson handbag. You can see the same design influence in this refined flat using upcycled bracelets and likely pyramid studs. The large pyramids are from a vintage bracelet acquired on my travels. I’m pleased to give them new life. Rethinking items we already own is a great opportunity to practice creativity, innovation and design. We learn new skills. We try new things. We understand how things are made. We appreciate hand made. We grow as people. And we work toward less waste. Celebrate the Joy of Making. Challenge yourself today. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to catch the next Upcycle Challenge.