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From Trash to Crafts

Newspapers and Other Scrap Paper

Newspapers and other scrap papers are among the most commonly recycled items. Before you throw paper into the recycling bin, think about the crafts you can create with it:

  • Make paper hats.

  • Make papier-mache.

  • Use for drawing.

  • Use for making patterns.

  • Use newspaper to cover special surfaces (floors, countertops) while you do crafts or household projects for easy cleanup.

  • Newspaper makes great gift wrap. The comics pages work especially well; or use the regular printed pages and stamp or stencil them with bright colors.

  • Save greeting cards from any occasion. These can be used in decoupage or cut-and-paste projects. Decoupage is the traditional art of decorating with cutout paper.

  • Usually, a product is used to both adhere the paper to the object and to coat the paper and provide a hard finish. Several finishing coats are applied.

  • Seed packets often have beautiful illustrations of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Save them and use for decoupage projects for the kitchen.

  • Leftover paper bags make luminaria, masks, and puppets.

Instead of always asking which paper to buy for a project, ask yourself which paper you can reuse.

Old Clothes

Before you give old clothes to a local church or Goodwill, think about these crafts ideas:

  • Remake into other clothes. A full skirt, for instance, can become a straight skirt or a shell blouse.

  • Make doll and teddy-bear clothes.

  • Make into rag rugs.

  • Make a scrap quilt.

  • Make pillows. You can either use one piece of fabric or make patchwork pillows out of many different pieces. Take the two back pockets off an old pair of jeans, glue Velcro across the tops with fabric glue, and sew both sides together to make a coin purse.

  • Denim is strong, and can be patched together and decorated to make aprons, jackets, vests, and tote bags. Cloth diapers can be used for cleanup and polishing. Retired T-shirts can, too.

Carton Boxes

Empty carton boxes have many uses in crafts:

  • Boxes in different sizes make great building materials for forts and castles.

  • Use boxes for dioramas.

  • Make individual settings for miniatures.

  • Attach several boxes together to make a dollhouse.

  • A large appliance box becomes a playhouse. Cut windows and doors and decorate.

  • Make play furniture from sturdy cartons.

  • One box makes a puppet theater. Cut out the bottom and suspend a curtain from a cord.

  • Use cut-out corrugated cardboard as a base for ornaments.

  • Heavy cardboard can be used as wreath forms. Materials can be glued to the cardboard or it can be covered with moss.

Tin Cans

Don't throw away old tin cans! They make wonderful organizers and crafts materials:

  • Turn a coffee can with a plastic lid into a bank by decorating the can and making a slot in the lid for coins. Create desk accessories. Use two or three cans the same or different sizes. They can be separate or you can attach them. Decorate one for pencils, one for pens, and one for markers.

  • Coffee cans in different sizes can be used for a canister set. There are infinite ways to decorate them. One of the most interesting decorative ideas I've seen uses belt leather, sisal cord or string, and bridle rings.

  • Groups of cans in different sizes can be spray-painted and glued together, then mounted on the wall with a nail through the cans into the wall stud (or a toggle bolt if there's no stud). Use for storage.

  • Cans from hams have an interesting shape. With both sides removed and a hanger added (the following illustration uses a wooden bead and a wooden drapery ring), they make graceful lanterns, bird feeders, or whatever else you can think of.

  • Coffee cans make excellent planters. Cover the cans with any durable material, then punch six evenly positioned holes at the top along the rim. Knot the end of some heavy cord (rawhide strips or whatever else you have on hand) and make them long enough to hang as planters.

More on: Crafts for Kids


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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