15 December 2017

From trash to fabulous treasure! Creating fashion and accessories from unusual materials

| Nina Gbor
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Agnieszka Berger in a vintage poncho made from old curtains. Photo: Giovanni Armando Putra.

We’re used to getting brand new fashion and accessories from shops but one Canberran has the secret to using discarded materials to make gorgeous fashion, accessories, and art. Even though we don’t realise it, it’s possible to make beautiful pieces from objects we normally wouldn’t consider using! We caught up with the fun and quirky Agnieszka Berger, a student of the ANU Master of Visual Art in her home studio where she showed us some of her creations and spoke to us about the inspiration behind the skill.

Agnieszka’s loveable personality shines through her white poncho. It’s a groovy vintage green and red floral pattern piece she upcycled using old curtains found in a 70s-style house she bought. Like this poncho, many of her pieces have come from random discarded objects found during her walks through the forest, beach or even in the middle of a city. Discussing her creative process, she says for some inexplicable reason, she becomes enchanted by specific objects that catch her eye, then she ends up taking them home. At this stage, she usually has no idea what she will turn an object into, but the ideas come later.

Secrets of the stone. Photo: Giovanni Armando Putra.

While walking on the Baltic Sea beach last July, Agnieszka found this intriguing black stone that she later converted into a stylish ring. Now it reminds her of that holiday she spent visiting family.

“Dreadlock necklace.” Photo: Giovanni Armando Putra.

This piece is made of many single neck pieces from collected silk, cotton and other natural fabrics wrapped around plastic bags with layers of filoselle stitched around them.

Glass earrings. Photo: Giovanni Armando Putra.

These pretty earrings are made from broken beer bottles mounted on metal rings.

Photo: Giovanni Armando Putra.

This unique pair of earrings came about from random objects founds on the Baltic Sea beach.

Photo: Giovanni Armando Putra.

On the left, an upcycled handbag made from an old grey jumper and a blue beret, made by a friend of Agnieszka’s. On the right, a sculpture called “Whispers in the shadow of the trees”, made using an old wool top from an op shop, ceramics, stone, and steel.

Agnieszka’s creative talent comes from family influences like her great Aunty Nina who had an unusual and extravagant wardrobe. Each piece she makes can also be a reflection of the phase of life she’s in or her state of mind. When it comes to making jewellery, Agnieszka says it starts out with a sudden urge to quickly make something small, which might later transcend into a much bigger project.

Where fashion is concerned, Agnieszka likes clothes she has designed or dyed herself or otherwise found at a market or has been upcycled by another designer. Her affinity for colour is reflected in the jewellery she makes and wears.

Photo: Giovanni Armando Putra.

One of Agnieszka’s most recent finds; two orange pieces of plastic found on a footpath at ANU. She suspects they’re broken bicycle lights. She says; “I love its texture, colour and the way they reflect the light. They will receive a “new life” when the time comes. I will upcycle them into pieces of jewellery or a small sculpture.”

At Craft ACT, you can find some of Agnieska’s art pieces, jewellery, and sculptures. You can also see her work on Instagram.

What materials or ‘trash’ have you converted into something fabulous? We’d like to learn from you so let us know in the comments below.

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