Posts Tagged ‘recycle’

Magazine/Wrapping Paper Beads

March 21, 2010


Before the days of plastic, foamy, pre-cut, pre-designed craft projects, there were the 70s, when I was a kid.  We made paper-maché piñatas, twine macramé plant-holders and did lots of art projects using objects from nature or things that we had around the house. They weren’t always beautiful, but it was lots of fun making them.

I love the idea of recycling things into art, for both environmental and financial reasons. Who hasn’t walked into a craft store and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a bunch of things that will never break down in a landfill?

If you haven’t already, you should create a “junk box” for your child to fill with things that have potential to become great art projects. Find a container that you already have around the house and you and your child can fill it with colorful magazines, old buttons and crayons, corks, bottle caps, ribbons, Popsicle sticks, wrapping paper and cloth scraps, cardboard jewelry boxes or pretty bottles-anything that you or your child see potential in. Try to see the possibilities in the things you normally throw away.

One childhood project that I remember, and re-created with my kids (4, 7 and 9years old), is making magazine beads. My older children loved it and my four year old had a great time just squeezing glue onto the newspaper we were working on.  All you’ll need are scissors, cardboard (optional), magazines, glue and pencils, straws or wooden skewers.

First, cut out a cardboard template in the shape of a long triangle about one inch wide at the bottom and about 8 to 11 inches long. Use the template to trace triangles on colorful magazine pages or old wrapping paper. Have your child cut the triangles out, or help them do it.  (You can also just guess and free-hand the triangles, which is what I did.) Use a glue stick to put glue on the back of the triangle, but try to leave the bottom inch or so of the wide base of the triangle glue-free. Then, have your child wrap the paper tightly, starting with the base, around some sort of stick (we used pens, straws, pencils and wooden skewers with the sharp ends broken off.) You may have to glue the tip of the triangle down when you’re done. Finally, just slide the “bead” off of the stick and you are done!


Older children will do fine with skewers, but younger ones may be more successful with pens or pencils. Your child can use the beads to make garlands, necklaces, bracelets, or ever glue them tightly side-by-side to an old picture frame to make it new!

Just remember, it’s the process that’s important, not perfection. Remind your child that imperfect things much more interesting than perfect ones!

New spring projects on the way soon!  Keep posted!

Spicy Layered Bottles

June 1, 2009


We go through a lot of olive oil at our house.  It kills me to throw the pretty glass bottles into the recycling, so I decided to save a few of them for this fun, pretty project inspired by a similar method I’ve seen used to make trays and bowls in Provence.  It would be a great craft for a birthday party or just for a rainy day.  All my kids loved it, from my three year old daughter to my eight year old son.

First, you’ll need an empty glass bottle or bottles with the labels scraped off.  I had to use rubbing alcohol to help me get the glue off mine.  (Please try not to curse me as you do this part of the project!)  Then, scour your kitchen cabinets for small pasta, peppercorns, herbs, beans, popcorn, lentils,couscous, rice, wild rice, poppy seeds, or anything else that would make a pretty layer in your child’s bottle.   I wished I had some lavender to throw in.  Maybe you do.

You could also do the project with very small bottles and layer only spices and sugar! Another option would be to dye some pasta for your bottle (see my art project archives.)


Have your child pour or scoop one thing at a time into the bottle, creating layers.  We found that it worked best to put the finer grains and spices on the bottom of the bottle and use courser, larger grains, beans and pastas toward the top, so things don’t sift down.  It also looks pretty if you alternate dark and light layers, but let your child be the artist! 


Since you already have everything out, make one yourself!  Why should kids have all the fun?