Upcycled Life – Life Lived in Non-commerce

Make Something of Your Life, or, Better Still, Make Something With It

I can’t imagine a life without making. It doesn’t seem worth thinking about but such is the culture we live in. As a boy sitting around the bandsaw on shop-made stools in a group of ten I watched a man beeswax some thick cotton thread and restitch the leather sole of his shoe whilst drinking his tea and eating a sandwich. Another man brought the carburettor to his Austin car into the same circle a few days later and fettled it until whatever wasn’t working opened and closed freely using what I think was a saw file. It was nothing to take off the wheel of the same car, remove the tyre, patch the tube inside and put it back on with a couple oversized tyre levers, a piece of rope tourniqueted around the tyre circumference and a couple of big screwdrivers and a carpenter’s claw hammer. Many things we once did capably have become hidden in the mysteries that disallow us from Do It Yourself. We hardly use the term these days because it’s cheaper to by the finished product than buy the wood to make it.

Small or large, making is intrinsic to us and I will always believe that its intrinsic to our wellbeing. 

Of course I think everyone should spend some part of their day making something, anything. DSC_0005 John Winter separates the silver foil from the waxed inner lining of butter wrappers and and upcycles the foil into an SD card box for Phil or me and it slides into the pocket or wallet nicely. DSC_0004 It takes him a short while to do it and it has no dollar value because of course it’s priceless, uncost effective and highly rewarding without the exchange of money. Making is of course intrinsic to every culture on every continent. 

Phil’s SD card box holds two cards


DSC_0056 DSC_0055 Remember the small saw I use and the small brace I bought that is likely one of the rarest braces ever found at a flea market. Well, these were indeed called ‘gent’s’ tools. They were downsized for ‘gentlemen’ to work with because they didn’t have the muscle mass working men had as they might well be even members of the aristocracy that loved working with their hands but not enough to build working muscle. fact was it was something they wanted to do.

Self Worth defies the Western Culture of Industrialism if you Recognise its Impact on Your Life and do Something About it.

Making is something we might not realise doesn’t always have to be evaluated by how much we can sell what we make for. Step outside of commerce and industrialism, economics and marketing and consumerism as a whole and you find new spheres around you and beyond you in which creativity flourishes and thrives in a purity and cleanness that defies politics and social standing, power seekers and acknowledgement. DSC_0002 It’s something called self-worth and that’s something companies you work for have no right to own. Self worth doesn’t come from selling yourself to the highest bidder in the cattle market of commerce. Art of this kind isn’t sold for money so we can say this sold for this or that. Self worth is what you get without pay in your family and with friends when you make a box from silver foil that normally goes in the landfill because it’s not worth separating the foil from the wax paper for recycling. You take something that’s worthless and give it value. A piece of junk by the kerbside of one house takes two licks of paint in another and makes a coffee table for ten more years. Self worth is life upcycled from worthlessness to bring inner peace in uncompromised status where humanity thrives outside of commerce, economics and industrialism. It’s that time around the bandsaw when you step off the conveyor belt, don’t need to prove anything to anyone and share the life you have with others around you where no one takes advantage of another but shares creative thought and speech and space and time. Imagine a life without making and then imagine it making – emptiness of consumerism and fullness and meaning in creativity. That’s what self worth is to me. 



  1. Couldn’t agree more, Paul. One of my favourite books on my shelf is this:


    it’s a fantastic book about people who have re-purposed objects to make everyday objects they need. (I have no affiliation with the book or publisher and you don’t need to publish my comment, I just thought you would like the book). The language in it can be a bit rum though, mind, as they are transcripts from the makers who are working-class Russians!

    All the best

  2. That book looks very interesting Gary. Can it be picked up for less $$$. The listed price is a bit steep for me.

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