Supporting local businesses is great, but it is even better when you support makers who turn used or found materials into something truly special. You're helping people and the environment with each gift you choose. We've scoured in and around Newcastle and Gateshead for makers who are offering some brilliant upcycled gifts just in time for Christmas and New Year.
Scatty Knits is a creator of fantastic recycled hand knitted mittens, beanies as well as dog snoods and coats.
Why is upcycling and recycling materials important to you?
"As will.i.am said ‘its only waste if we waste it’. I think we all know that the disposable consumer culture we live in is so damaging to the environment. Our resources are not infinite and a definite change is needed in how we consume these resources. The fabrics and other material I use are unsold clothes from charity shops (which would be shipped to landfill abroad) or cutting room floor waste."
Tell us about your favourite items!
"On a personal note the one I’m most proud of is the kintsugi snood. Scatty is all about the ‘no scrap left behind’ – it’s like my zero waste code. So I don’t throw any fabric away, if it can be pieced together it is or if not it becomes stuffing in draught excluders."
"The kintsugi snood is a celebration of all the leftover cashmere scrap, highlighted with golden thread to focus on the patchwork that makes the recycle part of the story of the new product."
Deadwood Studio have a range of stunning upcycled Christmas decorations using driftwood, including some extraordinary Driftwood Stars.
How do you feel about Christmas shopping?
"Christmas, as many of us know it, is a period that generates tons of waste, and I mean TONS! It’s astonishing in a heart-breaking kind of way as it’s classed as the most wasteful time of the year.
"And rightly so, you can only imagine the kind of stuff that goes to waste, to name a few, unwanted presents, Christmas decorations, all the Christmas paper wrap – and sadly not the best kind, because it’s the type that can’t even be recycled afterwards! It’s one of the things we feel very passionately about, and also one of the main reasons we made it a priority to use packaging made from recycled waste, that can also be further recycled later on.
Tell us about a favourite item that you’ve made?
"Although our Christmas Trees are definitely one of our bestsellers, (especially now that we’ve incorporated various wood colour options for customers to choose from, always a plus!) I must say my personal favourite item is our Driftwood Stars.
There’s a bit of a story behind this...
Northern Siren Crafts
Northern Siren Crafts has a range of fantastic jewellery and home decor, including some stunning unique upcycled stamp rings and vintage pendants.
Why is working with recycled/upcycled materials important?
"It's an easy way to reduce our impact upon the environment, both myself as a crafter and for shoppers picking up something new. You have the chance to prevent something from going to landfill and giving it a completely new life.
"Speaking from a personal perspective as a historian, it's pretty exciting to wear a piece of jewellery knowing that it's been around for decades already in another form."
Tell us about your favourite item?
"My personal favourite item is my collection of historical themed vintage stamp rings! I kept a beautiful Elizabethan themed one, but there are nine currently available in my Etsy store ranging from medieval monks, to saints, and castles. They're the perfect stocking filler gift for history lovers young and old."
TheReclaimers have made over 700 sales on Etsy, with customers loving their handmade record crates, dog beds and coasters. They work entirely with reclaimed wood to create some great statement pieces for your home that don't cost the earth.
ForgetMeNotArt has made some fantastic sculptures and pieces using driftwood and sea glass and has even run workshops for kids to pass on their passion.
Why do you work with upcycled and recycled materials?
"I'm one of those people who hates to throw anything away. I love to give things a new purpose. I hate the thought of anything going to landfill, so if I can do my bit to help with this I will. People donate all sorts of things to me to see if I can repurpose them. I also love to use natural materials such as driftwood collected on my beachcombing trips to the local beaches.
Show us your favourite items!
"My favourite items I've made are these Nativity scenes. I created these entirely from Driftwood collected from Northumbrian beaches. The sheep are made from pebbles. The Kings crowns are made from old washers. The bases are Driftwood or old floorboards."
From these fantastic hand-made recycled felt brooches to zero waste Christmas stockings and eco handkerchiefs, ThePhoenixGreenStore aims to breathe new life into old materials.
Kate Stuart, founder of The Phoenix Green, said: "Every piece of fabric, every material, every garment that we own is full of the energy of all the people who contributed to its existence, and to chuck it away, let it rot in landfill, is disrespectful, as much as wasteful."
We're a huge fan of the one-of-a-kind pieces that Red Mutha creates. There's so much detail that goes into each garment, with plenty of colours, logos and patterns. A feast for the eyes and yet treading lightly on the environment by upcycling vintage clothes.
So why did you start selling on Etsy?