Kaleidoscope Christmas Tree Skirt

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Kaleidoscope Christmas Tree Skirt, Ties Recycled

©Chicago Lost and Found

What would you do with a bag of old men's ties? There are lots of ways to use them, but none quite as stunning as this piece designed by Mitch Pennell. As someone who loves to create, I love a challenge and enjoy coming up with new ideas, but the idea, design and execution of this amazing piece of art literally took my breath away.

What do Paula Deen, Trisha Yearwood, and Ellen DeGeneres have in common? They all have a Kaleidoscope Christmas tree skirt created and offered for sale by Chicago Lost and Found.

The Christmas tree skirt is fashioned from discarded men's ties, each skirt requiring over 250 individual pattern pieces meticulously put together. The diamond shapes are graduated from small to larger as they go out to the edges of the skirt. There are over 300 seams on the luxuriously lined piece.

Mitch, founder and creative director of Chicago Lost and Found, explains the tree skirt was originally designed as an audition project for a television show. He has an enormous collection of glass ornaments and never had a beautiful skirt that was worthy of his collection. When he was given a bag of old ties by a friend, he came up with the idea of making a Christmas tree skirt.

Originally it was going to be a crazy quilt design. "As I deconstructed the ties, I realized how important they had been to someone at one time. These ties had been to important events, weddings, engagements and power meetings. How sad they were tossed to the side as worthless, so I felt the design had to represent the shape of the tie. That's how the diamond pattern began. As all design process goes, one thing opened the door to the next and as I drafted the pattern, I saw the circular motion created by the graduated diamonds. This pattern reminded me of one of my favorite childhood toys, a Spirograph which I happen to have one on hand at the time. I got out the plastic wheels and within minutes had a small scale version of what is now the perfected design."

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Close-up of Kaleidoscope Christmas Tree Skirt

©Chicago Lost and Found

This picture gives a close-up of the way the tie pieces are assembled.

Each skirt requires sewing over 250 individual pattern pieces meticulously together, this takes between 40 - 50 hours of work. There are over 300 seams on the fully-lined piece.

Notice how the diamond shapes are graduated from small to larger as they go out to the edges of the skirt.

Mitch said that the tree skirt is actually the inspiration for Chicago Lost and Found. "I figured if I could make a tree skirt from worthless ties that were tossed aside, I could create value on a much greater scale. The metaphor grew from there as I realized that even people fit in this same category. There are many people who are hurt by a society that tosses them aside for one reason or another. But all it takes is someone to recognize their value and help them see their beauty to possibly make a difference. When you're able to see what is possible rather than just what is, the entire perspective changes. Most people can't see a tree skirt in a trash bag full of old ties."

The skirt is approximately 60" across and sells for $1200

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About Chicago Lost and Found

©Chicago Lost and Found
The mission of Chicago Lost and Found is to creatively support the community and the environment through visual arts.

The tree skirts are produced in the studios of the not-for-profit organization founded by Mitchell Pennell. "As creative programs disappear and budgets for the arts are cut in schools and other organizations, I am compelled to help reverse these actions". And he does so by using the junk most people throw away.

These unique creations are sold to fund the Creative Academy at Chicago Lost and Found, an art education program, which makes art classes and workshops available throughout the Chicago area.

Urban alleys and anywhere refuse hides are the supply source for junk used by the creative team at Chicago Lost and Found. What most people consider worthless is treasure in the hands of these artists. "We use the unwanted to create unusual art and wonderful home furnishings. Where others see trash, I see beauty. This is recycling at the highest level".

Through their creative studio they use the discarded as their medium and create value through original and unique creations. The studio creates jobs for artists who are either struggling or unemployed, as well as internships for art students. Chicago Lost and Found has partnered with the YMCAs of Chicago, as well as public schools and community centers. More programs are on the horizon for 2011. The proceeds help subsidize budgets that have been reduced or eliminated, as well as employing artist to assist in the curriculum and teaching.

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Christmas Tree

©Chicago Lost and Found
Mitch Pennell, designer of the Kaleidoscope Christmas tree skirt, is also a collector of vintage glass ornaments and perhaps this is what drove him to create the perfect Christmas tree skirt.

He has been collecting for over 25 years with over 2000 ornaments in his collection. The collection consists mostly of Italian, German, Czech, as well as some Russian and Polish ornaments.

It's hard to believe that at one time he just used an old sheet or blanket as a tree skirt, but that's all changed. Now those beautiful old ornaments have an equally beautiful tree skirt!

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Your Citation
Crews, Barbara. "Kaleidoscope Christmas Tree Skirt." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/kaleidoscope-christmas-tree-skirt-781985. Crews, Barbara. (2017, February 28). Kaleidoscope Christmas Tree Skirt. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/kaleidoscope-christmas-tree-skirt-781985 Crews, Barbara. "Kaleidoscope Christmas Tree Skirt." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/kaleidoscope-christmas-tree-skirt-781985 (accessed December 11, 2017).