My daughter loves to do art. Painting, gluing, drawing, coloring, it doesn’t matter, if it is a creative sort of activity she is all over it. The thing is, art supplies can get crazy expensive at the rate she blows throw them! If I were buying scrapbook and other art materials every week to replenish the supplies she uses, I’d be broke before any of our essential bills got deducted out of our bank account! Anyway, because of that I’ve taken to using things around the house that aren’t necessarily earmarked as traditional art supplies to keep our art cabinets well-stocked. Some of what we use are:
Toilet Paper Rolls. These can be turned into anything from binoculars to telescopes to wheels or even small animals. They can be painted, colored, cut up… the possibilities are endless!
Cereal boxes. Instead of banishing these to the recycle bin, we cut them up. The front and back make for a good sized canvas that’s stronger than paper, so it can hold up to gluing and paint better than plain scrap paper will.
Pasta. Macaroni and other shaped pasta has long been a standby in kid’s art. Large pasta with holes can be strung on yarn to make necklaces and bracelets. Older kids can glue colored pasta onto paper in patterns or pictures.
Old marker caps. Have a bunch of dried-up markers you’re about to throw away? My daughter picked through a pile destined for the trash when I wasn’t looking and started gluing the colorful caps onto her pictures. Since then I’ve saved the caps and tossed them in her “stuff to glue” art bins. I just make sure to keep them out of reach of her 1 year old brother, since they are a choking hazard to younger kids!
Fabric scraps. Are you a crafty person yourself? Do you have a bunch of fabric scraps sitting around? Cut some up into smaller bits and let your children use them in their art. It’s a fun way to add a little texture and color to other art supplies.
What else have your kids used in their masterpieces?
I live with a pack rat. At first I have to admit that this really annoyed me. I was of the opinion that if I wasn’t using it, it could go in the trash or be donated. There was never a reason to keep old junk. Now, years after opening my heart and my closet space I have learned that my spouse’s pack rat tendencies are useful and often save the day as well as save us money.
We have two boxes of old cords. They come from all walks of life. We have gaming console cords, phone charging cords, extension cords, and power strips all taking up room in our closet. There are cords that are for modems and cords that are from computers and laptops long gone. Let’s not forget the many keyboards and computer mice.
At first this collection of wires resembled a writhing nest of really skinny snakes, and I treated them as such. Over time however, I have learned to appreciate these life saving and money saving tools. The extension cords and the power strips have been been great in the kitchen. This past week our fridge wasn’t getting power from its regular outlet and we were able to reach another outlet by use of extension cord, thus saving a week’s worth of groceries. It’s particularly good because maintenance still hasn’t been able to fit us in.
My spouse is like a child that has found a puppy and brought it home asking if we can keep it. The only difference is he brings home things like a truck’s mudflap, an unused mattress a friend was getting rid of, and car seats. Not the child seats. The bucket seats that come out of vehicles. In short, he brings home things that make me look at him sideways and wonder what he was thinking.
I have been wrong about these acquisitions as well. The car seats were welcome additions when we had just started out as happy, broke newlyweds. The mudflap is currently our door mat and works great as such. And the mattress actually fits our toddler bed. No need to buy another one.
The scary thing about my husband’s pack rat ways is how they have affected me. Lately when I look at things I am throwing out I don’t see as much trash. Instead I see potential.
What have you found useful around your home?
I don’t like to throw too many things away. I am finding more and more uses for things that I would earlier in my life discarded as useless. In the spirit of frugality these items have found new lives in my crafting.
Blankets, curtains, sheets, and towels that are past their usefulness make a great replacement for crafting fabric. Old pillows can be opened and the filling can be used to stuff something else. An old worn quilt can be used in place of the batting for a new quilt.
One of the things that I loved doing the most to a favorite dress I couldn’t wear anymore was to take a seam ripper to it. I would take out all the seams and then use the resulting pieces as a pattern to make a new dress. What I loved most was I knew I would get a comfortable fit, but the dress would be in a new color or pattern.
I also use socks to make anything from stuffed animals to cleaning supplies. I use old pantyhose to make soft balls and rackets for indoor games of tennis for rainy days.
I used to think that I had to buy art supplies like chalk, play dough, paint, or crayons. I have since learned that I can make these items in my own kitchen using things like cornstarch, salt, water, and flour. It’s less expensive for me because I can make these supplies in bulk for what it would cost to make two or three cakes, they last for quite a while. and I know that they aren’t toxic to my children.
Junk Mail And Trash Items
Paper mache is fun but I wouldn’t want to spend money on newspapers just to rip them up. I use old ad circulars that are sent to me through the mail. I also use wrapping paper and toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes, and shoe boxes. My toddler and I can make all sorts of creative crafts just by adding some construction paper, paint, or the dreaded glitter.
If, like me, you have saved up this stuff, but don’t know what to use it for be sure to check out ideas on the internet (hello Pinterest!) or in your local library. Some ideas I have come across have been great for my children. Others have been great for me to save money. The best ones have brought us together over a project.
What are your favorite recycled craft supplies?
Get a free $15 Best Buy gift card when you recycle 3 small electronics at Best Buy by January 19th.
The fine print: Small device means any product in the following categories: laptops, tablets/eReaders, mobile phones, MP3, gaming hardware (console & handheld), DSLR, digital point & shoot, and digital camcorder. Not all products are eligible for trade-in. Not available in all locations. Trade-in value may vary. Condition, documentation and accessories may affect value. Payment is by Best Buy gift card. You are responsible for removing any data from your product before providing the product for evaluation. You will be required to agree to the terms & conditions. The Best Buy trade-in programs are intended for private, non-commercial use. No dealers. Limit of 3 trade-in transactions per person per day. Best Buy reserves the right to refuse any trade-in for any reason. Learn more about other products accepted for trade-in and see how much they’re worth at BestBuy.com/tradein. In store only. Not available in all stores. See a Customer Specialist or BestBuy.com/TradeIn for details. Offer valid through January 19, 2013.
Earth Day April 22nd – Bring in your empty or half empty bottle of moisturizer (any brand) to your local Origins store and receive a FREE full size “A Perfect World” SPF 25 age-defense moisturizer with white tea or “Starting Over” age-erasing moisturizer with Mimosa moisturizer. Sweet trade-in freebie! 🙂 Full details HERE.