The Beauty of Crafting Sustainably

The Beauty of Crafting Sustainably

Written by Avery Bohman, 577 Program Coordinator

Upcycling and sustainable art have become my mantras as a member of 577’s environmentally-driven community. With my classes, I really try to hone in on sustainability in some fashion. I’ve even acquired a few nicknames like “The Trash Lady” and “Miss Ephemera” because of the plethora of materials and art supplies I collect and utilize for projects and classes.

One of my biggest goals this year is to intentionally plan and teach sustainably driven classes, 1) because it’s one of my greatest passions, 2) because it challenges me, and 3) because it’s fun!

I studied English Creative Writing in college and had a minor in sustainability. I’ve been passionate about a healthy and sustainable environment ever since an ecology class I took during my senior year of high school, where I became immersed in learning about coral reefs and the impact of climate change on their ecosystems. Ever since that class, I’ve been an advocate for recycling and reducing waste, sustainable swaps, and how to live a greener life for the health and well-being of ourselves, our animals, and our planet.

My upcycling classes are super fun to plan and incredibly rewarding to teach. It’s cool to see how upcycling flexes my creative muscles; I look at one thing and imagine all the different ways it can be used and repurposed, and then I try to plan how to incorporate that into projects or classes. Transforming a piece of “junk” into a functional piece of art gives me a sense of accomplishment, and I love seeing other people’s repurposing ideas come to life as well! The possibilities are endless, and the ideas are always flowing!

Instead of throwing paper or fabric scraps away, I save them to reuse in projects or classes, such as papermaking. Cigar boxes and glass jars are painted and repurposed into storage options and other kits for classes. Egg cartons are used as nature treasure boxes for kids’ classes. Q-Tips are used as paper quilling tools. Toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, sewing bobbins, and old kitchen utensils are used as funky non-traditional painting tools. Old, overstock books that were donated to the Curiosity Shop are being used for handcrafted upcycled sketchbooks and blackout poetry. Basketweaving d-handles are used as repurposed frames with a good coat of acrylic paint and some decorated matboard.

There are a multitude of ways to get creative and DIY a project with upcycled materials, and sometimes it’s about thinking outside the box and expanding your vision!

My challenge for you: Try to reuse at least one thing when you start your next craft or home project. Look around your house, garage, or basement for random items you totally forgot about that will most likely never be used. Search for DIY projects and upcycling ideas online. Think creatively and as always, be curious!

Need a few supplies? Stop in the Welcome Center & Curiosity Shop to pick out gently used or like-new craft items to reuse and repurpose. The Shop is open Monday ~ Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Interested in taking a sustainable class at 577? I’d love to see you in one of my upcoming classes open for registration now. Click the class name for more information.


UPCOMING YOUTH CLASSES – AGES 2 to 6 with an adult

June classes open for registration on Wednesday, April 24 at 9am. Information and links for the classes below are coming soon.


  • Upcycling: Mini Fabric Scrap Bowls: Tuesday, June 4 ~ 6pm to 7:30pm
  • Paper Quilling: Summertime Florals: Saturday, June 15 ~ 2pm to 4:30pm

YOUTH CLASSES – AGES 2 to 6 with an adult

  • Youth Art Adventures: Fun with Seeds: Friday, June 7 ~ 10am to11am

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Music in the Gardens ~ Saturday, June 8

Music in the Gardens ~ Saturday, June 8

TSA String Quartet will be playing classical tunes from 11am to 1pm, followed by the enchanting harp music of Rebecca Swett from 2pm to 3pm. And as a special treat, Swanky Scoops will be there with delicious ice cream! Plus, select areas of Virginia’s House will be open for tours and activities from 11am to 3pm.

Join us for Music in the Gardens on Saturday, August 10, from 11am to 3pm. Events are free, family-friendly, and rain or shine.