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From Trash to Crafts

Miscellaneous Materials

  • Not enough ideas for you? Here are a few more, all using recycled materials:

  • Use the cardboard from a shirt box to make place mats. Decorate and laminate them.

  • Large pieces of broken glass can be cut with a glass cutter and made to fit a smaller frame. You can also sandwich two pieces of the same size together to make a floating frame or dried-flower ornament.

  • Milk or juice cartons (with plastic or wax coating) or cream cartons can be used as molds for candles. Just peel them away when the candle has hardened.

    Many objects, such as discarded watering cans or flower pots, can be made into clocks. Decorate and drill a hole for the clockworks and insert the turning mechanism inside the hole. You can put the clock face on the outside and attach the hands.

  • Interesting works of art can be made of assemblages sprayed all one color. These can be from any odds and ends. Decorate and paint six juice or soup cans, then attach them in a six-pack. This can hold paint brushes, tools, or even silverware for a buffet. Or you can plant a mini-herb garden in it.

    Use a cereal box or other box as a magazine holder. Cut off the top at an angle, then cover the box with adhesive-backed paper.

  • Cigar boxes can hold anything. They can be decorated in a variety of ways, including wood burning (burning designs into wood using a special tool with various tips), decoupage, or painting.

  • A discarded lampshade can be recovered with wallpaper and a pin-pricked design, or covered with ribbon suspended closely together between the top and bottom wire rings.

  • Brown paper bags make puppets, sacks for Halloween, and luminaria.

  • Scratched holiday ornaments can be reused. Remove the metal neck, then remove the metallic finish by dipping in a solution of bleach and water. Rinse and dry and fill the ornament with confetti, potpourri, sand, shells, or whatever. Replace the metal neck and hanger. Add some ribbon and tiny dried flowers with glue.

  • Wire hangers can be covered in various ways (ribbon, batting and fabric, string) to make decorative hangers that are kind to your clothes and pretty to look at. Or hangers can be cut and the wire itself reused in other crafts.

  • Lamps can be made out of almost anything. Take an interesting tin, vase, or teapot and fit it with a lamp assembly, available at any hardware store. (Be sure that you use the proper drill to make any holes for your lamp assembly.)

  • Wood turnings, finials (an ornament at the top of a piece of furniture, lamp, or other decorative trim), and other small parts from furniture, lamps, etc. can be used for all sorts of things, from miniatures to decorative trims.

    I've even seen wood turnings, cabinet knobs, and empty thread spools turned into an imaginative chess set and toy soldiers. Another chess set was made out of discarded Tinkertoys and wooden beads, then painted. Cardboard mailing tubes can be cut into short sections and made into ornaments.

  • Broken china pieces can be applied in an interesting mosaic pattern to a flowerpot or recycled table. You'll need tile mastic, which is an adhesive especially for tile, to hold the pieces, andafter it's dry you'll grout in between.

There's something very satisfying about using discarded items and making them beautiful or useful again. Not only are you doing your part to help the environment, but there's the secret pleasure of knowing how clever and thrifty you've been.

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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