Crafters looking to branch out from macramé and macaroni have a chance to do so at this week’s craft swap in Whitehorse.

This event, which will be held on Friday, is an opportunity for crafters to bring in their leftover and unused craft materials and trade them with other crafters.

Organizer Jen Meurer explains how the idea came about.

“Aside from having to pack up my house to move, I just realized how much materials and stuff that I had good intentions for, but just haven’t used yet, or realized its potential,” she says.

Many people are familiar with the concept of clothing swaps, where groups of people get together and offer up the unwanted clothing from their closets. Chaos ensues, and most participants leave with someone else’s castoffs.

The craft swap will be similar, but crafters will offer up wool, paint, tiles – anything that has potential for use in a craft project.

“I visit craft blogs, and have seen that it works in other cities. Whitehorse is ideal because there are really a lot of crafters here,” Meurer explains.

Indeed, crafters tend to be constantly looking for new materials for ideas and inspiration. Also, as enthusiasm for recycling, freecycling and upcycling grows, creators are constantly bringing new ideas to old materials.

For those not familiar with these terms, freecycling (or free recycling) refers to giving unwanted items to others in order to divert them from landfills. Upcycling refers to the process of reusing materials or objects in a way that gives them higher value. For example, turning discarded wire into jewellery.

Conventional recycling, by contrast, is usually downcycling, because a high quality material is converted into a lower quality material through processing.

Although many crafters use new materials in their projects, creative reuse of materials remains an ideal. In part, it is simple economics: if you can make gold from garbage, you have an unlimited resource.

Whitehorse’s craft swap will be a one-time event, which may be held again if interest grows. However, the creative reuse of objects and materials can be realized on a more permanent scale.

Some cities in the U.S. have depots dedicated to the creative re-use of existing objects. The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland, CA is a permanent clearinghouse for materials diverted from landfills.

They range from school supplies to furniture, and are available at nominal prices for art, education, and social services. The depot is not only a source of materials, but also an opportunity to educate and inspire on the topic of creative reuse.

In a similar vein, the Whitehorse craft swap is an opportunity not just to acquire new materials, but also to get excited by other people’s materials in preparation for the winter crafting season.

The hope is that there will be an exchange of ideas as well as materials.

“I’m hoping to get inspired by what other people have used and get some new ideas,” Meurer says.

Crafting can often be a solitary activity. In part, this is due to a pace of life that relegates crafting to a role secondary to the business of making of living. Getting together to share ideas is a necessary part of crafting for many, though.

As Meurer expresses it, “The more you craft and create, the more ideas you get, the more you open your mind to creating. I’ll often look at other people’s work online and let ideas percolate, and when I’m in crafting mode, I can try them out.”

Indeed, throughout history, crafting in its various forms has been a shared pursuit. Some contend that crafting and creating together is essential to communities.

Professor David Gauntlett’s book, Making is Connecting, makes the case that it is a fundamentally human impulse to want to create, and to share that creativity with one’s community, whether it’s knitting in a group, or participating in Web 2.0.

The craft swap is free and open to all crafters , DIYers and other hoarders. It will be held Friday, September 30 6-7 pm at the Sport Yukon boardroom. Call Jen at 336-4645 for more information.

No macaroni, please.

Glenda Koh hoards a variety of writing implements.

Crafter extraordinaire Tara Kolla-Hale produces a wide range of colourful

creations in her Hillcrest home.

PHOTO: Rick Massie www.rickmassie.com