Before upcycling was a thing, it was the thing. 

Make/Do: A History of Creative Reuse, July 14 - December 6, 2018

This fascinating new exhibition focuses on this cyclical nature of our relationship with objects. Washington’s response to this relationship has been driven by several factors and influences—culture, geography, and industry, among others. These influences have given Washington makers and their objects a distinct character.

Among the themes presented in this exhibit will be the idea of building community through reuse and building reuse through community. In the past, community was built through crafting as people gathered for quilting circles or knit-ins. During hard times and war, Washingtonians united to remake old items into new, whether it be to support troops overseas or to use in everyday life. This trend is continuing today in creative reuse centers and living rooms across the state.

Make/Do will include a material/historical survey of “second life” objects, architectural reuse and salvage, cultural examples of creative reuse, and contemporary examples of functional and non-functional objects.

Washington’s innovators will inspire you as you wind your way through objects made from reused plastics, metal, wood, paper, glass, shell, horn, and other natural and man-made materials. Examples of interesting objects on view include a crazy quilt made from the scraps of an opera singer’s dresses, a drinking glass fashioned from an animal’s horn, a seashell-turned-pipe, a bright dress fashioned from caution tape gathered along roadsides, construction blocks created by upcycling drywall waste, colorful walls of fused waste paper, artful metal sculptures crafted from scrap, and so much more.

These artifacts from multiple artists, individuals and institutions show that some trends are timeless. You’ll have a chance to get creative as well in the makerspace sponsored by Earthwise Architectural Salvage.

Nancy Judd, Caution Tape Dress, 2011, caution tape recovered from the side of the road, sewn onto a vintage sundress, image courtesy of the artist.

Construction block made from upcycled drywall waste, 3 x 6 x 12 inches, created by Washington State University School of Design and Construction, photo courtesy of David Drake.

Hand-made crazy quilt, circa 1930s, ribbons dating from 1894-1930, 14 × 60 inches. This side consists of W.R.C.”Woman’s Relief Corps”, ribbons used at Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, small U.S. flags, and other pieces of ribbons, stitched together. Collection of Washington State Historical Society, 1995.38.1.