Upcycling tips from Liverpool’s Find It, Fix It, Flog It star Gemma Longworth

The Liverpool designer and furniture upcycler talks to LiverpoolWorld about the challenges of TV, how it all began and how you can get started.

Gemma Longworth will be selling some of her creations from the show Find It, Fix It, Flog It.

The popular Channel 4 restoration series Find It, Fix It, Flog It will shortly return with a new seventh series after filming in Liverpool earlier this year.

One of its stars is Gemma Longworth, a creative designer from the city, who will be selling some of her creations from the show.

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The programme sees Liverpool-born presenter Simon O’Brien, who appeared in Brookside, and restorer Henry Cole “rummaging about in Britain’s sheds, outbuildings, lock-ups and barns for people’s unwanted clutter that they can turn into cash for them”.

“A lot of the things Simon turns up with aren’t really my bag, but I make it work,” Longworth explained to LiverpoolWorld.

TV challenge

“I’m predominantly a furniture painter and upcycler so I get to see a quick transformation, but Simon brings back all sorts of things – wheels from cars, barrels, nuts and bolts. He has an idea and I can paint them and make them look pretty,” Longworth explains.

“Once he brought a rusty old chain and we turned it into a planter. It looked like an octopus holding lots of plant pots when we had finished.

“The idea is that we sell the items or get them valued and the people who gave us the items get that money.

One of her creations from Find it, Fix it, Flog it

“I’ve had my own business for years doing arts and crafts workshops and furniture upcycling. Channel 4 was looking for someone in the Liverpool area and came across me.

“It was never my intention to go on television, but I love it.”

She will be selling some of her items at MerseyMade, a unique space near Liverpool One that is home to creative entrepreneurs, who work on, showcase and sell their pieces in one building.

How it all began

Longworth went to City of Liverpool College before going on to study for a bachelor’s degree in Drawing and Applied Arts in Bristol, then completed a master’s degree in textiles in Manchester.

It was following the death of her younger brother that she started being creative.

Longworth said: “He loved to draw and I started to draw in his honour. It wasn’t until I began working with textiles that I discovered it was all therapeutic and it could help heal my feelings of loss.”

When she was studying for her MA in 2007, she was commissioned by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to work alongside a bereavement counsellor and put together an art therapy book for children so they could use it to express themselves.

“I worked with Alder Hey for a few years, meeting the children who were both inpatients and outpatients, offering art sessions to distract them and providing comfort.”

Upcycling

When Longworth isn’t filming, she is upcycling furniture and selling it at MerseyMade where she has been based for the last three months.

She said: “People seem to have really been looking around their homes during lockdown and doing DIY and they seem very interested in what I’m doing which is great.”

Gemma at work on one of her own projects

She scours her local area for items to upcycle and finds “old furniture people don’t want” and goes to charity shops and antique shops: “Whatever I get my hands on I take.”

A huge fan of colour, Longworth said the items on Find It, Fix It, Flog It, are for mass appeal so she needs to “reign the colour in”.

But she revealed when she is upcyling for herself the finished product almost looks graffitied: “I go for it, stencilling, gold leaf, the lot.”

Gemma’s Top 5 Upcycling Tips

CLEAN - Sometimes a little soap and water is all it needs to transform an old item. I’ve found many a vintage treasure under years of dust and dirt. I always start every upcycle with a thorough clean.

PREPARATION - Do your prep; sanding, filling and priming can be hard work and a tad boring but if you put in the hard work to begin with it will be rewarded in the outcome.

A GOOD BRUSH - I tend to keep costs low with my upcycles, I like to use what I have around me and tend to reuse and recycle wherever possible. But if there is one thing I will splash out on, it’s a good paint brush. A decent paint brush will last a long time, make projects easier and provide you with a better finish.

BE BRAVE - With both your designs and colour choices. I’m a huge fan of colour and believe that bright colours can lift your mood. So don’t play it safe, express yourself and make a statement!

HAPPY ACCIDENTS – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s great to have an idea of your end goal when starting your upcycling projects. But don’t be disheartened if things don’t go to plan or you make a little mistake. Happy accidents lead to creative masterpieces.