I generally take issue with the word “upcycle”, preferring to use the word “reuse.”
The word upcycle was origionally proposed in the book, From the Cradle to the Grave: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by McDonough and Braungart. It was coined to give a name to the use of waste materials to make useful products. It is also obviously playing off the word recycle, that is now in the common vernacular, and is common practice. Recycling is the reprocessing of old materials into new products. The problem with recycling is that many of the most commonly recycled goods, i.e. paper and plastic, are turned into a lower quality good. For instance, recycled plastics are a lower grade than the plastics they were made of.
I believe that the word “upcycle” implies the opposite of “recycle,” or the making of higher quality material from waste goods; however, in upcycling the nature of the good does not change, it is simply used in a new way. “Reuse” seems to me a far more appropriate term for the process.
However, I believe that I may have finally produced a product worthy of the name “upcycle.”
A few years ago my grandmother gave me a beautiful ornate picture frame, with a gorgeous picture in it, that just didn’t match my style.
After about a year of looking at this picture frame everyday, I was in need of a message board, but I really didn’t want a giant ugly white board on my wall. Finally, I had a use for the frame. I decided to paint the back of the glass in the frame leaving the front of the glass a perfect surface for dry erase markers. This system worked perfectly for about two years, but I was never very happy about the look of the paint on the glass.
Then I found out about looking glass paint.
Looking Glass is a spray paint by Krylon that creates a mirror finish on plain glass. So I scraped all the paint off the back of the glass, and painted the back of the glass with Looking Glass twice. The finish I got is very similar to an antique mirror. I do not know if this is the finish that the paint should produce because despite the admonition on the bottle that the paint should not be used in high humidity, Florida did not provide me with humidity under 70%. The finish is however, exactly what I was hoping for, and I think it turned out beautifully. Unfortunately the picture really doesn’t do it justice.