25 January 2007


By nature, I am not a very competitive person; I am much more of a "let's work together to get this done" type. However, I am finding that I need to challenge myself more, so I've decided to start entering some design competitions in an effort to push myself. I am not entering to win; rather I am entering to challenge myself to create something that meets the criteria of the competition while remaining true to my design aesthetic (or, to help me FIND my design aesthetic!).

First, the Etsy Upcycle Challenge. Posted in the middle of December, this competition was to take items normally trashed or recycled and use them to create something. Initially, this sounded perfect for me and my desire to reuse/remake clothes and accessories. Yet, after carefully reading the criteria and subsequent questions/answers on the Etsy Board, I wasn't so sure. I make take a dress, cut it apart, and use the fabric to make something else, but the dress wasn't going to the trash to begin with. If I had found no use for it, I would have donated it to a thrift store - and is that considered recycling??

I really struggled with what to create for this challenge. I tried making some earrings with soda can pull tabs, but could not come up with anything that I liked. I have saved the caps from beer bottles, and have ideas on turning them into jewelry, but I don't have the equipment I need to make it happen. I finally settled on these three (the maximum number allowed) designs:

First, I entered a piece I had already listed at Etsy. I carefully checked the rules and read the questions on the Board, and could not find it mentioned anywhere that the items could not already be listed. It is my Flower Button Bracelet.

Next, I spent on Saturday playing around with some of my button collection and leftover chains and findings. What resulted was a design for earrings that I really liked. To me, this is where I have already "won" this challenge. I came up with a design that I really love, and made myself a pair of earrings that I wear often. Even if no one else likes it, it is "me" and I reused things I already had! I ended up with enough materials to make one pair with goldtone chain and brown buttons, and two pair of silvetone chain with black buttons (of course, one of the silver/black pair is mine!)

Finally, I created something I've made for myself before, and found to be very useful - and this one is actually something that might get thrown away. ( Of course, I wouldn't throw them away - I'd take them to the dry cleaners for them to reuse, but many people DO throw them away.) Wire hangers with yarn crocheted around them! The yarn not only provides some padding to the hangers, but it gives the clothes something to grip onto preventing it from sliding off. If these don't sell it is no biggie, since I can use them in my closet. In fact, once I begin selling clothing, I may include one of these with each item purchased as a way of helping to protect the clothes while keeping the hangers out of the trash.

The winners are supposed to be announced on February 1st (although I haven't checked the Etsy Blog to see if that has changed). I'm not expecting to get anything - I like the idea that it made me think about what to create.

The second competition is for the television show Ugly Betty on ABC. I had only watched the show once, but I liked it, and the buzz has been very positive - even before the wins at the Golden Globes. I first learned about the contest on one of my favorite blogs, Blogging Project Runway. And does this contest seem like one of the challenges from that show!! The challenge is to design a dress to be worn to a formal event using only office supplies. The website for the contest lists some of the supplies allowed, and says "just to name a few". Well, I took off with the idea and have come up with a design and begun constructing it to make sure it would work.

What I missed was the link to the "full list of acceptable design materials", which I finally saw Monday. Guess what - one of my major materials is NOT on the list!!! That's what I get for not carefully reading over EVERYTHING. Anyway, back to the drawing board! I've spent the last two nights reworking my design, and will spend the next few days working on the design. It has to be submitted by 11:59pm (23:59) Sunday night. Right now my biggest challenge is to see if my scanner will scan my designs in so I can submit them.

Again, I know I won't win. It's not about that - it's about seeing what I can create for this challenge. And since I came up with one design that doesn't meet the criteria, I also have another idea to play with in the future! I will also get to practice scanning in things and writing up a summary about my vision for this project.

One other project I plan to participate in is Project Spectrum 2.0. For each two month period, you have three colors to create something(s) from. You can use one, two, or all 3 colors. Of course, I won't work exclusively in those colors, but I like the idea of being challenged to come up with SOMETHING for each color group. Sounds like a good way to use up yarn, buttons, and leftover bits of fabric. With the Ugly Betty contest - not to mention everything else I'm trying to complete - I haven't even thought about this. Next week I start pulling out everything I have in blue, white, and gray to see what I have to start with. I can't wait to see what I find!

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