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Meet Tree Dellinger and her Wooly Repurposed World


 This weeks Upcycled Artist is  (Tree)Theresa Dellinger crafter behind New River Quilts Work on Etsy.  

How did you first get into upcycled crafting?

 Several years ago I read Warm Fuzzies by Betz White and was immediately hooked by the idea of using shrunken wool sweaters as a source for wool felt. My local thrift stores frequently have bag sales and I found an endless supply of wool clothes to felt up and use in my crafts. While cruising the thrift stores I began to notice that there are plenty of cotton and linen clothes with beautiful prints and colors that are perfect for quilting. You can stuff a lot of clothing in a grocery bag, and at $4.00 a bag, that’s a lot of fabric for projects! It wasn’t until later that I thought about how my grandmothers reused old clothes in their quilts and how that’s a very traditional source of quilt material in Appalachia, where I live now.

What was the first upcycled craft/artwork you ever made?

I was about 7 years old when I made a little sculpture from driftwood and seashells. I made little animals using the shells, put googly eyes on them, and glued them to the piece of driftwood. Both the shells and the driftwood were things I found on the beach on vacation. It was thirty years later that I picked up some felted wool and made my first Christmas ornaments with it.

What mediums do you typically work with?

I’m mostly a fabric artist using felted wool from shrunken wool knits and cotton fabric, buttons, and trim reclaimed from old clothing. I tend to grab any fabric remnants, buttons, thread, and embroidery floss I find at garage sales and thrift stores.

Why do you believe the recycled art/craft movement is so important?

Upcycling diverts usable resources back into the consumer loop and out of the landfill. It also provides a creative outlet, which I think is so terribly important to our well-being. Personally I love the challenge of finding a new use for something discarded by someone else, and each item I make is always one of a kind.

What kind of music do you listen to while you craft, give up your top 5 songs…

 Lately I’ve been tuning in to either our local NPR affiliate or an internet radio station called “Martini in the Morning” that plays a marvelous selection of Frank Sinatra and other “Rat Pack” lounge music.

Describe your studio to us…
Um…my studio is very, very messy. I was so very tempted to send you a picture of a nice, bright and organized craft studio from Martha Stewart’s website instead of one of my own disaster area. I wrote a post about my messy studio on my craft blog in April and it’s certainly not gotten any cleaner since then (

I tend to be visually oriented so I’m always stacking fabrics in piles to find combinations that I want to use together. I could store my supplies in totes and bins, but then I’m less productive because everything is put away and out of sight. There are piles of woolen knits to be felted, old clothes to be cut into usable fabric, stacks of idea books, and odds and ends scattered everywhere. At any given time I might have 3-4 projects in progress piled up on a craft table beside my ironing board.

 My sewing machine is set up in a spare bedroom in our basement, but most of my supplies are located in a small hallway in a different part of the basement. Wool tends to make a lot of lint, so I usually cut my wool fabrics outside on the back deck to help keep the house cleaner. This means there’s almost always a stack of sweaters beside the back door waiting for me to cut them up. And I save all the wools scraps to use as stuffing in my ornaments, so there’s usually a paper bag of those by the back door, too. Really, it’s a total organizational disaster. I’m very fortunate that my husband is extremely tolerant of it all.


Name an upcycled art/craft you would love to create in the near future…
I save fabric scraps from my quilts to make cloth yo-yos. I’d like to make yo-yo garlands for the holidays. Maybe not the most exciting upcycled craft, but it does use up those last remaining scraps of fabric.

Who are a few of the artist you look up to?

 Betz White of Warm Fuzzies (, Alicia Paulson of the blog Pozy Gets Cozy (, and Lisa Jordan of the blog Lil’ Fish Studios ( are a few crafters that I regularly follow online. When I first discovered them, these women were making items that I found really appealing in terms of their style and use of materials. Mostly they’ve moved on to making different crafts now, but I still find their creative processes fascinating and enjoyable to watch. Plus, they’ve been very successful at marketing themselves and developing their following, so I consider them role models in that regard, too.

What helps inspire you when you are having a dry spell?

 Some of my work with felted wool draws inspiration from primitive motifs, which in turn are often inspired by nature. Sometimes I just need to go out and take a walk in the woods or through my gardens to get new ideas. Other times I’ll pull out my supplies and play with textures, colors, and patterns until something strikes me. I can always find inspiration by visiting the internet or craft shows and seeing what techniques other artists are using. But every so often I just have to set the crafting aside and go do something else for a little while. Sooner or later a new idea will come to me when I’m not forcing it.

Why do you think homemade art/craft is so important?
I think it serves two purposes: it gives the artist an outlet for creative energy and the recipient gets a thing of beauty (or charm, whimsy, usefulness, or what have you). When I was in grad school and later working as a research associate, I found that science appeals to my analytical nature, but it does nothing for my creative side. Once I started to explore creative outlets like crafting, photography, and gardening, my life came more into balance than it had been for years.

I particularly enjoy the artisan aspect of arts and crafts. Something original, hand made, and not available just anywhere has a special value that cannot be duplicated, but of course not every craft has to be an heirloom item in order to be appreciated by the recipient.

What is one thing no one would guess about you?

 Most people probably wouldn’t guess that I am a feral lab rat with a PhD in entomology.


Tree (Theresa) Dellinger

New River Quilt Works

Christiansburg VA

My craft blog:

My personal blog:

My Etsy shop: New River Quilt Works

Fourth of July Recycled

  With the fourth of July around the corner I thought I would dig up some awesomely upcycled crafty goodness.  This necklace made with vintage red white and blue buttons by ButtonsoupJewelry is just the thing to kick off the party.

    These recycled fabric and jean Banner made by BlueAppleBlackbird is fantastic and can be used again and again for years to come.

Red, White and Blue knitting needles turned bling? What more could I ask for, keep the awesome coming SewNewThings

This recycled zipper flower pendent is unique and one of a kind, what a great idea to be festive on independence day, rock on Benjamin2008

This bag and BBQs go together like two peas in a pod.  This was made by PandaPandaDesigns

Books Resuced!

I headed over to the local thrift store this week and gathered up some books that were being thrown out because they were damaged out just could not be sold.  I grabbed a lot of colorful children’s books that I will turn into paper beads, and I also go a few maps which will be turned into my flowers… here is a look at what I dug up.

Old Records Turned Wine Holder

I was surfing on Etsy a few weeks ago and ran across these amazing record wine holders.  I have seen recycle artist use records for bowls or clocks, but this is really something else.  Karen Dengler of Retired Records really thinks out of the box, the record box that is.

How did you first get into upcycled crafting?

It all started with making a simple record bowl. Then I started experimenting with different shapes and techniques to challenge myself and see what else I could come up with.  That is when I made my first purses and wine racks. I love the idea of taking a useless scratched sad record and transforming it into a functional piece of art.

What was the first upcycled craft/artwork you ever made?

I first started with using warped records to make purses. Then I moved into coasters and the wine racks.

What mediums do you typically work with?

Records, Record album jacket covers & sleeves, belts, paint and misc. materials I find at home rooting through the garage, like used screening, nuts bolts, and rivets.

 Why do you believe the recycled art/craft movement is so important?

We have limited space on this earth and a limited amount of resources, I believe in making the most of what you have and leaving minimal trace.  It is also fun and challenges my creativity.  I rescue records that are being thrown into the trash and save them from going into the landfills.

What kind of music do you listen to while you craft, give up your top 5 songs…

My new favorite song is “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I also like Black Eyed Peas, “I got a feeling”.  “Dynamite”  by Taio Cruz. “The Reminder” by Feist and “take a Picture” by Filter. I like listening to energetic fun music and have very eclectic taste.

Describe your studio to us…

“A complete mess”, I call it organized chaos, I am not a neat, tidy organized person and my studio reflects that. I usually have many projects going on at the same time or in different stages of completion.  Even when I take the time out to organize it doesn’t last long.

Name an upcycled art/craft you would love to create in the near future…

I have plans in my head to make a dress or skirt completely out of scraps of record pieces.

Who are a few of the artist you look up to?

Joan Mir’o  and Salvador Dali.  Locally several artists including my artist friends Nancy Gamon, and Amy Wallace.

What helps inspire you when you are having a dryspell?

Being outside in nature, going for a hike in the woods or canoeing.

Why do you think homemade art/craft is so important?

I think it helps boost local economy, it is personal, not mass produced and provides  a sustainable alternative income.  It also helps to keep alive the traditions of hand craft that have been passed down through generations as part of our culture.

What is one thing no one would guess about you?

Most people who view my work, assume that I am a male for some reason, but I am DEFINATELY a female.

 Be sure to check out Karen Dengler’s awesome upcycled crafts in her Etsy shop… you should see what this lady does with records… its outa this world!

Chico Bag Fanatic

I LOVE chico bags.  I snagged on last summer while I was on a road trip spending a few days in Chico.  We headed over the Chico Natural Foods store, and I fell in love with the bags, they are eco-friendly, can hang on your key chain and are high quality.  I use mine alll the time.

The other day while at Borders book store I stumbled upon Chico produce bags… Oh my goodness…. I so want them.  My boyfriend and I shop at local farmers markets and how perfect would it be to use! My boyfriend Dave is in culinary school so he cooks 2-3 meals each day….. needless to say we fly through produce especially when friends and family are over!

Until Next Time, Upcycle On Everyone!

Recycled ABC’s : C is for Cardboard


Cardboard has long been a crafters medium, but these crafters take it to extremes, check out these out of this world cardboard crafts, from bangles to cupcakes!

These colorful bangles made by ButterNutSquash from industrial cardboard tubbing are the perfect way to kick off the summer. I have not seen anything like this before, they are carefully coated with a protective finish as well.

Everyone loves cupcakes, and this little cupcake will never go bad, what a way to get the party started… check out ArtOnTheMenu for more amazing cardboard creations.

Who said chandeliers had to be glass?  Seeqin creates beautiful and classy ceiling decor out of recycled cardboard.

Toilet rolls turned art, this is by far the most amazing thing since sliced bread…. the vibrant colors and playfulness are awesome!  Keep up the fantastic job Akoyanis


The soft pastel colors and texture caught my eye.  These were created by PrecociousPaper.  embellish away everyone!