Laura Prietto - upcycles crafts and plays in nature with her daughter on the Thread Spun blog

After Hours Disc 23: Motherhood and Creativity with Laura Prietto

Upcycling Crafts and Motherhood Blog | Thread Spun

After Hours 5.12.23

Discussion 23: Motherhood and Creativity with Laura Prietto

Meet Laura Prietto, mother, teacher and passionate sustainability advocate based in Southern California. I started following Laura on Instagram because I loved watching how she is building such a colorful life with her kids. Laura is always coming up with the cutest upcycling arts and crafts and cooking projects, and I am always looking for ways to talk about sustainability with my kids, so it is a win-win for me. I am not known to be the craftiest person, but I love creating with my kids - and Laura's posts are just the inspiration I needed to make talking about sustainability with my kids fun and educational. It's no surprise Laura is so great at this stuff, she is a middle school Language Arts teacher, after all, and she's got two kids of her own. Read on to learn more about her take on motherhood, upcycling and sustainability, and for some tips on connecting with and being creative with kids of all ages (including middle schoolers, gasp!). Plus, you'll find a couple of super sweet craft ideas that are sure to delight. 

Laura Prietto is a mom of two and teacher who creates fun upcycling crafts | Thread Spun Sustainable Blog

Laura wears the Amelie Skirt and Lorana Jumper

Mother's Day is right around the corner (Happy Mother's Day!)- what is your favorite way of celebrating the day? What is your pit (low point) and peak (high point) of motherhood? 

Thank you! I usually celebrate with family who live in town. We gather at one of our houses and do a potluck style brunch with mimosas. Then the adults hang out together and relax while all the cousins play. It’s nice and low key. I also love to FaceTime my own mom who lives back in Louisiana where I’m from.  

For me, a challenging aspect of motherhood is how the demanding nature of the job can reveal parts of yourself you’re not always proud of. It’s brought out sides of my impatience or frustration that I never knew existed. At the same time, my kids see all parts of me and despite my shortcomings, they still love me. When I mess up, I ask them for forgiveness, and they do the same. So the high point of motherhood is having little humans to grow and learn with. 

Child plays with eco friendly sand toys in southern California | Thread Spun Sustainable Blog

Eco friendly sand toys that are biodegradable in Laguna Beach | Thread Spun Sustainable Shop Blog

Shop eco-friendly sand toys

You’re clearly very passionate about up-cycling. What sparked this passion?

I’ve always tried to be eco-conscious and one summer during graduate school I lived and worked on a few different organic farms along the East Coast. That experience solidified a commitment to myself to live as sustainably as possible. Up-cycling is a natural part of that lifestyle. I do a lot of arts and crafts but try only to buy basic supplies like paint and glue. The main materials come from upcycling things like tp rolls, egg cartons, or cardboard boxes. I also love crafting with nature pieces like leaves, sticks, and dried flowers.

Sustainable sandals by Alohas at the beach in southern California | Thread Spun Blog

The Slip-On Cross Sandals by Alohas

Laura Prietto wearing a sustainable green daisy skirt and hand-knit sweater at the beach in southern California | Thread Spun Blog

What does sustainability mean to you? How do you pursue sustainability in your life, in your relationships and in motherhood?

I once heard the quote, “live simply so others may simply live,” and it resonated with me. The earth has limited resources, so if I can live more sustainably by consuming less and sharing and reusing more, there will be enough to go around for all. We are a part of the Earth and she is a part of us, so I want to treat our home as kindly as possible. 

With relationships and motherhood, I think living sustainably means not getting burned out. I’m a 7 on the Enneagram and we are known for avoiding pain and seeking pleasurable experiences. Luckily, this means I’m pretty good at setting boundaries and going after what I need to feel happy. Sometimes, I do get overwhelmed though, and I have to dial back the things I take on in order to feel balanced again.

Creating upcycled kids crafts is Laura's specialty on Instagram | Thread Spun Blog

Laura Prietto creates upcycled crafts with her kids on Instagram | Thread Spun Blog

You are a teacher AND a mom of two who also manages to expose your kids to so many fun activities and crafts. How do you avoid burnout?

I try to do things each week that fill my cup so I’m not trying to pour from an empty one. For instance, every Tuesday my husband picks the kids up from school and I go to a barre exercise class. Giving myself 60 minutes to focus solely on my health and wellbeing goes a long way. I also try to read each night before bed and that helps me unwind and de-stress. 

Laura Prietto wearing a sustainably-made sweater by Louise Misha and a sustainable, printed flower skirt sold by Thread Spun

What are your greatest challenges and joys teaching middle schoolers? What do you most hope to impart upon this next generation? I have such a hard time connecting with this age group and would love some insight into the experience as my oldest child inches closer.

Kids this age have a lot of great energy. They can be funny and crack me up! One challenge of being a middle school teacher is that kids are still developing their executive-functioning skills, so the challenge is to redirect their sometimes impulsive behavior with patience and humor. 

I teach English Language Arts, and I most want students to have a positive experience in my class so they develop a lifelong appreciation of reading and writing. I try to come up with creative writing prompts, vocab review games, and grammar songs to make learning fun and memorable for them. I want my classroom to be a place where they feel safe, seen and happy to learn. 

Upcycled Egg Carton for a kids scavenger hunt activity on the beach | Thread Spun

Eco-friendly scavenger hunt upcycling an egg carton by Laura Prietto | Thread Spun Sustainable Blog

You are clearly a really creative person, and you embrace creativity in your everyday life. Any advice for those looking to do the same?

Creativity is all about seeing beyond the ordinary. You can start with the ordinary things in your daily life and challenge yourself to see them in a new way. For example, I love trying to see what I can make from an egg carton before tossing it in the recycling bin {see the above photo for some inspiration!}. Or if I’m at the park and find interesting shaped leaves, I think about what I can turn them into. Once you get in the habit of looking at things this way it’s hard to stop! 

Creative projects for kids with eco-friendly play doh sold at Thread Spun | Thread Spun Blog

Creative projects for kids with eco-friendly play doh sold at Thread Spun | Thread Spun Blog

Alma playing with eco-friendly dough by Eco Kids

Can you share your top three creative projects to do with kids?

My kids love building houses for their dolls/stuffed animals from cardboard boxes and other recycled materials. They’ll go all out and make multiple level houses with slides down to cardboard pools. There will be paper showers and spiral staircases inside. It’s pretty cool to see what they make!

There’s great imaginative play that can happen with dough as well. My daughter loved the Make Your Own Eco-Dough kit from your shop! She turned the play dough into “ice cream” and made a whole cardboard ice cream stand to go with it.

It’s also fun to get creative with food. Recently, we’ve used fruits and nut butters to make interesting breakfasts like lady bug pancakes or animal toast. I’ve led the kids with an idea a few times, and now they create animals or scenes all on their own. That’s fun to see.

Creative projects for kids with eco-friendly play doh sold at Thread Spun | Thread Spun Blog

Top 5 songs you’re listening to right now?

Here are a few favorites that never fail to put me in a good mood. 

  • Love On Top- Beyoncé 
  • Catch My Disease- Ben Lee
  • This Life- Vampire Weekend
  • Shake It Out- Florence and the Machine
  • Baby- Justin Bieber 

Follow along with Laura on Instagram for so many more up-cycling tips and craft ideas, and click below to shop her Thread Spun sustainable picks.

Shop Laura Prietto's Sustainable Collection | Thread Spun
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Love your life style and love the creativity! Kisses from Brazil♡

Arlene Antunes

Great ideas….love the creativity! ❤️


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