Happy Earth Day everybody! Earth Day is a special day for us as it marks the birthday of Upcycle That. Today we are turning 2 and wanted to share something extra special. For us the heart of upcycling is turning waste into resources. By reusing what we already have, we are able preserve our planet for the next generations. Upcycling as a concept appeals to people of all ages and we especially love to see younger people getting involved. Today’s featured upcycle, Junk Kouture, is an annual high-end upcycled fashion competition held in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This unbelievable outfit shown was handcrafted by 3 talented high school students out of plastic milk cartons. Read on for the full story.

junk kouture

What is Junk Kouture?

Junk Kouture is a national competition for secondary school students in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The competition challenges students to create high-end wearable fashion from everyday junk that would normally find its way into the bin. This premier upcycled fashion competition ignites passion and talent in Irish teenagers and also subtly educates about the importance of reusing materials.

junk kouture

Plastic Surgery

The gorgeous outfit shown is called, “Plastic Surgery”. It was created by Hannah Ní Chathasaigh, Nora Ní Chathasaigh and Meadhbh Ní Dhomhnaill. The secondary students started working on the project last October and have poured hours of love and energy in. Their main inspiration from an aesthetic standpoint was lace, and they wanted to choose a “junk” material that was widely available but once transformed would seem almost unrecognisable. Milk cartons seemed to be an ideal option as they could be easily sourced, and while pliable, would also be durable enough for intricate cut embellishments.

We were interested in the transformation from a material that appeared hard and flat to something as buoyant and delicate as lace.

The process

The Junk Kouture entry “Plastic Surgery” took 7 months to complete. The making of the dress involved collecting over 150 used milk cartons  and then cleaning and cutting these into flat panels. The larger pieces were set aside for the construction of the collar and upper skirt, while the scraps and smaller cartons were used for the more intricate work on the bodice and train.

The ladies wanted to stay away from manipulating the plastic with heat as to them this would go against the main Junk Kouture aim of protecting the environment. Because they couldn’t heat-mould the material into place, they instead used the original curves of the milk cartons to compliment the shape of the female body. The bodice is made of 10 panels which are linked together with spirals made from the wire of an assortment of electronics. The lining of the bodice is the reflective layer of LCD computer screens. The method of construction used in the upper skirt is similar to that of the bodice only that the pieces are connected by old fishing line to make it more durable. For the train they gathered up the left over material and began cutting plastic ‘lace’ circles to create the airy effect they wanted. Over 240 circles were used as well as a number of disposable contact lens holders. These were all linked together with more than 400 of the same metal spirals used in the bodice.

junk kouture

“Plastic Surgery” has been selected for the finals of Junk Kouture. There are 3 more days left for voting so be sure to head over here quickly to vote for this fabulous entry.

Hannah Ní Chathasaigh says she can definitely see upcycling in her future:

I am very interested in using my artwork to promote environmental awareness. I think art has a powerful impact nowadays and I feel it should be used to influence peoples’ opinions on something as eco-friendly and creative as upcycling.

TO VOTE:
1) Click here
2) Like the page in the top right corner.
3) Select ‘Click Here to Vote’
4) Vote ‘PLASTIC SURGERY’ by clicking the heart symbol.
5) You can vote once a day until Friday the 25th of April!

Happy Earth Day 2014!!!

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