Three Traits that Help You Find Materials to Upcycle

3 Traits that Help You Find Materials to Upcycle

By Devon Whalen


Whether you are a confident upcycler or you are here because you want to learn how to upcycle, finding the right materials is a challenge we face alike.  I know when I am in the mood to make a craft or needing a new project to fill my virtual shop, I am eager to get my hands on the raw materials– materials that I come by second-hand so that I can give new life to something used.  I can’t tell you how many times I realized that I just don’t have what I need to start that new project I spied on Pinterest or dreamt up in my sleep.  Finding discarded materials for upcycling projects isn’t always easy, but the following three traits will help you in your search for these ready-to-repurpose treasures and adopt the mentality to upcycle for business or pleasure.


Finding what you are looking for can take patience.  If your project involves recyclable materials like aluminum cans or glass jars, you may need to collect them or eye up that jar of jam for a while.  If you will need to visit a thrift store or keep an eye on online listings for used items, it may take some time before your desired material can be found. While it can be frustrating to delay your project, it will certainly make securing your materials feel like a victory when the time comes.  With this patience, you will also need to be observant. This isn’t a passive type a patience, but an active, lying-in-wait type of patience.


If you don’t have a specific project or material and can allow for some flexibility, you may not need to wait quite as long.  You can check free listings or walk around the thrift store with an open mind, which may just lead to discovering a diamond in the rough!  If you’re eager to get started, this might be your best bet. When you find something fun, you can dive right into a project. And if you don’t have ideas for your cool find, there are PLENTY of ideas to be found on Pinterest and groups you can join on Facebook that focus on upcycling, crafting, and repurposing.  If you want to learn how to upcycle a particular material, there are lots of people in the making community who would be happy to help you turn your new find into a work of art or practical piece.  Just reach out! 


When you do find your materials from a vendor, it’s a good idea to be decisive and make the purchase quickly. Good items are often purchased quickly and you may lose out if you delay. To avoid a missed opportunity, it’s helpful to think critically about the criterion for your purchase—what are the specifications the item needs to meet? What is your budget? Do you know how to upcycle the types of materials that often come available in your area? By having these things determined and your research completed, you will be better prepared to make a quick decision.

Items found at thrift store including ribbon, plates, pumpkin decor, wooden apple wall decore

My Found Things!

On a recent trip to the thrift store, I went in with an open mind, a budget, and a good number of ideas about project possibilities.  As I wandered the aisles, I found a number of items that aligned with ideas I had for projects.  I also found a few items that spoke to the spirit of the fall season and inspired new ideas for how to upcycle them.  I spent just over $10 and came home with wonderful fall treasures and materials for projects.

Upcycled Creations

I loved the little fifty cent pumpkin decorations. I added a fifty cent electric tea light to each (since I have toddlers and real flames are dangerous right now), and placed them on my kitchen table on either side of my home-made center piece.  They worked great for Halloween and will work for Thanksgiving, too!

The wooden pumpkin shaped bowl and the wooden apple both got a little upgrade and personalization and are ready for the perfect buyer to come along. 

Teacher Apple with sample personalization

Personalize this little apple with the name of your favorite teacher.

Pumpkin Bowl with the word "Blessed" filled with orange and champagne flowers

Blessed- Pumpkin Fall Decor


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