Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

An old sweater and bench find new life in this beauty.

Bao-Khang Luu first came to my attention when I saw him decorate a room with trash on The Nate Berkus Show. (Set your Tivo, the episode is running again this week!) He’s also shown up on Krrb as a buyer and hopefully a seller in the near future. I’ve become even more familiar with the designer this past week as we’ve set up shop on the floor of his workspace to cover my beat-up piano bench with the thread of an old knit sweater. While this is my first venture into upcycling, Bao is known for his artfully designed home decor made of discarded everyday items.

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

With the legs complete, it was time to focus on the long planes of the bench seat.

As the upcycling project progressed, a few challenges popped up. On the legs of the bench, we employed a technique similar to wrapping a round skein of yarn. It was the first lesson Bao learned from a native knitter in Oahu, Hawaii. However, it was difficult to continue this pattern on the long, flat planes of the seat and base.

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

Figuring out the logistics of the seat on a smaller scale.

After several frustrating tries, we took twine and packaging envelopes to come up with a more secure method. It was while experimenting that I started wrapping the string around my flat surface diagonally, much like in the game of Cat’s Cradle. Combined with a few additional steps on Bao’s behalf, we came up with a new pattern of wrapping the string around the rectangular shaped seat.

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

Testing out our new weaving pattern on the seat.

For many of Bao’s designs, he creates simpler versions for others wanting to take on a project. His company Relevé Design is popular among the DIY crowd for the tutorials on pendant lamps made of plastic 6-pack rings. Although designs have been simplified, the idea remains the same—using discarded materials to create items with a new purpose.

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

Wrapping up loose ends.

Weaving flat surfaces is quite difficult but doable if you’ve got lots of patience (and time). Wrapping parts of furniture, like the legs, to accent the whole piece is an easier project to undertake.

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

It takes teamwork to put the bench together.

We kept the project as straightforward as possible in terms of materials. Using just the thread of an unraveling woman’s sweater (size, medium) and as little glue as possible, we were able to stick to the main principle of upcycling that states an item be able to be used again and again in multiple ways.

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

My boyfriend Ed Mundy helps us tighten screws.

In theory, we can slowly unravel this beautiful bench to knit a new sweater or socks. That is, after I take a leap into the world of knitting.

Take a Leap – Create Perfect Harmony with a Bench and Old Sweater

Bao-Khang Luu tries out his latest upcycling project.

Bao is currently en route to Hawaii for a week. He has plans to continue with his knitting and spooling lessons during his stay. We’ll check back with him for a more in-depth tutorial on upcycled weaving which you can find here soon.

  • Julie Tayler

    This looks amazing! How did you get the pattern on the seat? And, is it comfortable? Soft? Good for seating or more just for aesthetics? Thanks! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/baokhangluu Bao-Khang Luu

      Gosh, Thanks Julie!

      Vanessa and I developed a pattern after a bit of trial and error. I’ll have instructions on it soon. The layers of yarn do add some cushion. The top of the bench isn’t as resilient as we would have liked (it is yarn after all!), but it’s definitely pretty! We were thinking that perhaps we could coat it with something, but then we wouldn’t be able to reuse the yarn. I was leaning towards plexi or glass to protect the top. What do you think?

    • Julie Tayler

      Thank you Bao…I would say no plexi or glass. If it is an old sweater it is meant to be worn out…maybe when this sweater is done, you just redo it? A lot of work, yes, but seems like it sticks to the theme of the project. Maybe? Looking forward to seeing the instructions! 

  • Dharrisblevin

    Beautiful energy! I’ll be watching for the new sweater! Student? And how long did it take?
    Patience is a very beautiful virtue:)

    • Anonymous

      Bao has amazing patience since my weaving skills were a little…weak. The project took a week’s time. 

  • Maria Luna

    Beautiful……….. I love it !

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