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Transforming 'crap'

Quest offers creative class to upcycle items into new treasures
Denise Corcoran is bringing her unique upcycling ideas to Quest University with her “Crafting with Crap” class this February. The workshop is part of the Quest’s continuing education series.

Beauty and usefulness can come from the most unexpected places – just ask crafting extraordinaire Denise Corcoran.

The North Vancouver resident is bringing her ‘Crafting with Crap’ workshop to Quest University for a run of six classes as part of the school’s Winter 2015 continuing education program.

Corcoran said upcycling is a big part of her class, and the hobby has taken over her life since she discovered her passion for it rooting through the Sechelt dump about seven years ago.

“They have a share shed at the Sechelt dump, and people have the opportunity to buy things that still have some life in them,” she said of the start of her love of the activity. “I started to gather things, upcycle and sell them and it’s just grown from there.”

She started bringing life to items such as chairs and tables, but then moved on making earrings out of wine corks and even made baby booties out of a wool sweater.

“One of the things I love about what I do is surprising people,” she said. “When something has outlived its original purpose, it doesn’t mean it should be discarded. There’s so much you can do and it doesn’t cost a lot. You figure it out as you go along and it’s a lot of fun.”

Corcoran said thrift stores are gold mines for items but also said local dumps can have hidden treasures. Locally, she said Squamish ReBuild is a great spot to find potential projects.

“It’s also amazing what you can find in your own house,” she said. “Pilfer your old jewelry, go to your recycle bin – it’s surprising what you can work with.”

She said she’s excited about the class and has experience leading groups. She’s held workshops throughout Metro Vancouver and is excited to return to Quest University, where she was a part of the original team at the school.

“I have a love affair with Quest,” she said. “I was hired there to do web, print and marketing work before the school opened. I remember taking students up there with construction stuff on.”

The class has a different theme each week, with attendees getting the chance to work with different material each class.

“The class is fun,” she said. “You get to meet new people and you don’t have to track down the supplies. My goal is someone leaves with two or three things each class that they’re happy with.”

Corcoran said she’s also hoping to have special guests like Ines LeBlanc from Squamish ReBuild and Squamish’s Karen Yaremkewich from Endure Upcycled Designs.

Crafting with Crap runs for six Wednesdays starting Feb. 18. The class is one of 12 winter courses offered at Quest starting in February and March. The courses vary widely, with topics ranging from water scarcity to dancing to business advice.

For more details on all the courses, visit

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