When you’re a crafter, it seems like every day is Earth Day because we’re always trying to use what we have in different ways and make our everyday more beautiful. With that in mind, here on actual Earth Day, I thought I’d share a few ideas for reusing/upcycling common household materials either to aid in your art making and organization projects or as part of the project itself.
Big plastic lids are great for holding paint.
I love to use the big plastic lids from things like margarine and yogurt tubs as paint palettes. They can hold a lot of paint, are easy to clean and are not so easy to recycle, so it’s nice to use them instead of throwing them away.
Of course there are all sorts of ways to use lids of all sizes in art projects. You can glue lids together to make an art project, use them as the center of flowers, make them into magnets, even stack a bunch of them together to make a doll. How cool is that?
Crafting with cardboard tubes is a classic. Paint them and make them into spyglasses, pinch them into petal or heart shapes and use them to paint with or make a whole scene with them.
You can make them into little animals, bracelets or watches, or just about anything else you can think of (buildings, rain sticks, rockets, just to name a few off the top of my head).
Cardboard tubes are also great for helping you store craft supplies. I recently covered a kid-sized shoebox with scrapbook paper and cut down a bunch of tubes to fit inside. The box now holds a ton of markers, paint pens and crayons in an easy-to-move container.
(As an aside, that project was part of an Earth Day projects I did for Michaels Craft Stores: the RE-Love project, which you can learn more about over on Craft Gossip.)
A few minutes’ work nets a bunch of little notebooks.
Boxes of butter, cereal and tea can all be used to make little notebooks. I did this a long time ago to make some travel coloring books for the Bit, and more recently made a gratitude journal for me, which I gussied up with some paint and other embellishments.
Like cardboard, paperboard can be used for just about anything. Save a bunch of boxes and paint them to make a little town, use them as musical instruments, and on and on.
Recycled alphabet crayons
Broken crayons are a fact of life if you have a crafty kid, and the odds are good your kids never want to use the broken ones ever again. Get some silicone molds (or even a muffin tin) and melt down those broken crayons to make new ones with fun shapes.
Expired Rice, Beans and Pasta
Colored rice before play. It was so pretty!
If your kid enjoys sensory experiences like playing with sand, mud and water, make your own colored rice and pasta next time you clean out your pantry. This stuff lasts just about forever and it’s really fun for a lot of different things: pouring, measuring, pretend cooking. The Bit was playing with hers just yesterday (these days she mostly pretends it’s bath water for a toy).
You can also color bigger shapes of pasta and use them for color sorting, making patterns, stringing on yarn, and so on. I actually have some rice I need to color now since I dropped my car remote in a glass of water the other day.
Upcycling Kid Art
Circle art with watercolored paper.
If your kid is artistic you probably have a ton of little projects that you don’t want to just recycle, but you can’t keep everything. There are lots of fun ways to use art projects in other art projects. I did this with my circle art wall hanging and by making greeting card cutouts that used kid drawings.
There are many, many more ideas available at Putti’s World.
What’s your favorite way to reuse/upcycle when making art? I’d love to hear your suggestions for kids or grownups!