shredding wool

I have been living with guilt. For the past few years I’ve thought an awful lot about recycling and reusing. As an artist who paints on canvas, I had a real problem with what to do about putting more STUFF out in the world. In my personal life, I’ve always been good about recycling and not wasting ANYTHING. I recycle everything I can. I’ve purged so much stuff out of my life. I consider myself a minimalist. I only buy my clothes used at thrift stores, except for underwear, socks and sometimes shoes. I take my own bags to the grocery store. We compost our organic trash. I even save water as much as possible since I live in the desert.

In my art life however, I’ve been faced with a dilemma. Not only do I use brand new canvas and wood stretcher bars for my original paintings, I use toxic paints. This is not an eco-friendly way to be. I switched to water soluble oil paints over ten years ago. So, I no longer use the solvents needed for cleaning up after using regular oil paints. Still, I use wood from trees and the canvas is manufactured somewhere.

I have racked my brain for ways to reuse more and not use toxic substances in my art. I  paint on recycled items, old vinyl records, beat up guitars, old furniture.

My recent change to sewing has helped so much with my new mind set. I reuse old clothing, upcycle sweaters into new items. Now that I’m making pillows and dolls I have to use something to stuff with that is soft and fluffy. I’ve done a lot of searching online and found so many different eco-friendly ways to stuff my creations! I never would have thought about stuffing my dolls with animal hair, or plastic bags?! Honestly, I didn’t think those were very good ideas. The animal hair? I’m allergic to it, and I know I’m not the only one! Plastic bags? Too much crinkly crunchy noise from the plastic! No thanks.

shredding wool

Using my rotary cutter and straight edge, I cut thin strips from the sweater and then cut crosswise to make soft little wool pieces.

The one idea I really like is shredding old wool sweaters. I had one here in my studio from another sweater recycling project, so I decided to test the idea. I used my rotary cutter and straight edge to cut the sweater into strips and then cut crosswise to make little pieces. There was a lot of fuzz from those little pieces! What a mess! I made two small pillow forms and filled one with fiber-fill and the other with shredded sweater pieces. I washed the pillow with the sweater pieces to see how it held up.

wool filled pillow form

Wool filled pillow form, you can see it’s a little lumpy, but still very soft!

I’m pretty impressed with how it came out. The wool pieces are a bit more lumpy than the fiber fill, not quite as fluffy and soft, but still a nice cushy pillow. My thinking is I’m making decorator pillows and not really sleeping pillows, so I don’t think they need to be super soft. What do you think?

The shredded sweater stuffing takes a bit more time and I think I can figure out a way to make it more fluffy. I saw a blog post about someone putting chunky fibers in a blender to make it more fluff, but I haven’t tried that yet.

What I like most is reusing something old (don’t worry I wash everything in hot soapy water first!) and making something new, pretty and functional. 🙂 Granted, I’m still putting more stuff out in the world, but at least it’s eco-friendly stuff that isn’t going into a landfill! 🙂

6 responses to “Recycling

  1. Paula, Perhaps you should try to use acrylic sweaters instead of wool. That way, they are hypoallergenic, as many be less lumpy are allergic to wool as well. The acrylic pieces also might not felt up like wool does, so that would make them a little less lumpy as well. Felted wool is harder than unwashed wool.

  2. I’m having the same problem, as I love to recycle in order to help the environment. I decided that worrying so much bothers my health though. I’m also Vegan, and that helps the environment alot. That along with the fact that it’s much better for my allergies are the reasons for my sticking with being vegan. I actually thought that there was absolutely no way I could stay vegan when I first started, as some vegan foods taste so bad! It’s amazing how many taste wonderful though, and how easy it is. It just amazed me, and it helps with allergies alot.Alot is a huge understatement actually, the FDA should make it clear that dairy, meat products can cause health issues. You usually only find out about that after you have Diabetes or some sort of health issue, then the dr. lets you know to stay away from those things. The thing is, they do that after the patient has health issues! Check this movie out Paula! Please check it out for your health. I may be wrong my friend, but I just may be right. It’s also a great way to advertise Paula, because the vegan community is increasing. Just wanted to let you know plastic bags cause a huge environmental issue. Animals choke to death on them, and also when thrown in the water at places like the beach, etc. they just lay there in the ocean causing more issues for the environment. Warning though! There are ALOT of vegan, and non-vegan haters, and they will try to make you look as if you don’t care about those in your life. If they scare off the people that you care about you see, they’ll be closer to making you feel alone. It’s kind of like Politics though, and we both know there are some REALLY screwed up people in Politics. That’s why I have decided to keep painting, and NOT let haters stop me. They can argue about what’s right, and what’s wrong. I just wanta live. There’s something that has to do with animals in most paints though. I can’t help the fact that I love art, and I’m not rich enough to pay for some of the animal cruelty free paints. It’s hard enough to pay for vegan food! Why they charge more for food that only makes you healthy, and that has less in it, I do not know. Reminds me of Politics. Plus, there aren’t many animal cruelty free paints at all. They scare people away from creating them. I can’t even think of all that stuff. Anyway, I think you should just live the way that makes YOU happy Paula, vegan, non-vegan, recycling, or not recycling. When I can, or can’t contact you know that I care.

  3. Please let me know how this stuffing has held up. Did you ever wash it?

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