Getting crafty with scraps and cutting back on waste at the same time

It’s all about creating and crafting with people and the planet in mind.

As public dissatisfaction grows about waste, packaging and pollution, organisations like Remake Scotland can be seen as a way forward.

Crieff-based Remake offers a mix of creativity and common-sense environmentalism at the grassroots level.

Set up in 2011 by artist Fiona Gilbert, this social enterprise takes craft materials that were destined for the dump and uses them to nurture artistic endeavour in Perthshire and beyond, using balls of wool, trays of buttons, or masses of shredded paper.

Fiona explained where the idea for Remake came from: “I’m an artist by training, my husband’s a teacher, and my father’s a furniture maker. I grew up in Balbirnie Craft Centre running around my dad’s studio, playing with offcuts and experimenting…re-use by necessity is in my DNA.

“When I had my own kids I wondered where they, and other children, were meant to experience this? There are only a handful of scrapstores in Scotland and I wanted to share my knowledge and experiences, so I set up Remake.”

The materials regularly donated to the Remake Scrapstore come from local companies and global brands alike. From offcuts, to end of line products, to waste from production -if it’s in good order and can be used for arts and crafts, Remake is happy to accept it.

“We had fantastic pattern books donated by a local upholstery manufacturer,” says Fiona. ‘Wallpaper sample books (ideal for origami) gifted by a paint company, whisky cartons passed on to us by a distillery (we made Daleks and Rapunzel Towers out of them) and we even take domestic donations.

“If a child’s grown up and grown out of their button box or craft corner, parents will donate the materials to us rather than put them in the bin. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

Remake runs several projects with the local community in mind. The Scrapstore, which works on an affiliation scheme called the Remake Pass, provides a vast range of materials for individuals, communities and schools to experiment with.

Crafty experimentation often takes place in The Shed, a small workshop with donated tools and workbenches, which was made possible through funding from Big Lottery Young Start and the Manknell Charitable Trust. Classes as well as untutored sessions run regularly in this quirky, creative space.

If you can’t come to The Shed, then Remake can potentially come to you as part of a 10-week Remake Challenge Champions outreach programme. The organisation’s Outreach team heads into western Perthshire, leading craft-based, reuse classes or one-off events for schools, nurseries, clubs and care homes. The sessions introduce attendees to reclaimed, scrounged and found objects, while encouraging everyone to use craft tools with greater confidence.

Fiona explains: “Each session is headed by a local professional artist or maker. Children get to experiment, develop and design their own ideas and make mistakes – our materials are cheap, so there’s no problem making a mistake, learning from it and starting again.

“The children who attend can socialise and many of them have never handled specialist craft tools before, so it really opens their eyes. Through attending many of them also ask questions about waste, upcycling, re-use and landfill so they learn on so many levels.”

Children are also the key market for Remake’s environmentally responsible parties: a novel, educational and less wasteful alternative to the traditional birthday celebration.

As Remake hits its six-year anniversary in May, Fiona is proud of what’s been achieved in a relatively short space of time. “We turn potential landfill into new objects of desire through art, craft and construction workshops. We make great stuff from old stuff, and people form friendships and learn new skills along the way.

“We’re just one small part of the solution to tackling landfill and the limited resources of our planet, we’re part of the journey, part of the groundswell and we feel that any town in Scotland can turn their waste into something special.”

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