Crafts From Trash

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With a little imagination and just a few supplies, items that would normally end up in the trash can be turned into treasures. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Pin Cushion

Does grandma like to sew? Here is a simple gift you and your child can make for her, turning a baby food jar into a pin cushion.

You will need:

  • Empty baby food jar
  • Small amount of polyfiberfill or cotton balls (enough to fill the jar and a little more so it makes a mound on top)
  • 1 4-inch circle of fabric
  • Rubber band (large enough to fit around the neck of the jar)
  • 12 inches of ribbon
  • Strip of wrapping paper, 3-1/2 inches by 8-inches
  • Clear tape

Place the wrapping paper strip inside the baby food jar, printed side facing out, and secure with tape. Fill the jar with stuffing. Center the fabric circle over the top of the jar and secure with the rubber band. Tie the ribbon around the jar, covering the rubber band. You may also use plain white paper instead of wrapping paper and draw your own designs on it.

Puzzle Frame
It always seems a few pieces of a puzzle manage to get lost before you know it. What can you do with puzzles that have lost a few pieces? Here's one idea.

You will need:

  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Cereal boxes
  • Construction paper
  • Puzzle pieces (you may paint them or leave them as is)
  • String for hanging or a magnet strip
  • Clear tape
  • Photo*

Cut off the side of the cereal box to get long rectangular pieces. Trim these pieces to be 11 inches long and 1 inch wide. Use the box front or back and cut two more pieces 7 inches long and 1 inch wide. Cut construction paper the same size as the frame pieces and glue onto the pieces. Allow to dry. Use the two longer pieces to form the sides of your frame. Put glue at each corner and add the two shorter pieces on the top and bottom to form a frame. Now glue puzzle pieces randomly around your frame. Other embellishments, such as glitter or yarn pieces, can be added. When your frame is completely dry, glue a hanging string or a magnet strip to the back if you are hanging your picture on the refrigerator. Fasten your picture into the frame with tape and hang.

* The finished opening for your picture is 5-1/2 by 9 inches, so you need a picture slightly larger than this to go in finished frame.

Lace Cards
Busy little hands are sometimes too eager to turn pages in a favorite storybook. You can recycle those torn picture books into lace cards.

You will need:

  • Cereal boxes
  • Torn picture book with large, simple pictures
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Shoestring for lacing
  • Hole punch

Cut the cereal box front or back out. Select a page from an old picture book and glue it onto the cardboard. Smooth out any air bubbles. Allow plenty of time for the card to completely dry. After the card is dry, trim around the edges. Punch holes to outline pictures on the card, approximately one inch to two inches apart.

The dividers found in boxes of 100 tea bags are the perfect size for bookmarkers. Make them to give away or to keep!

You will need:

  • Clear adhesive shelf paper
  • Small pictures of flowers
  • Scraps of ribbon and laceL
  • Stickers (optional)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • 1/3 yard ?-inch ribbon

Cut out small pictures of flowers or other decorative pictures from magazines or greeting cards. Glue your selected pictures and bits of lace onto the tea dividers. Add stickers and a message if desired. When you are finished decorating your bookmarker cover it with clear shelf paper or laminating sheets. Trim the edges and punch a hole in the center near the top of the bookmark. Thread a ribbon through the hole.

Paper Fans
Colorful wrapping paper that is too pretty to throw away can be used to make decorative fans. Use them to decorate a gift package with a matching homemade card and envelope.

You will need:

  • Wrapping paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Curling ribbon

Cut a rectangle of wrapping paper about 4 inches by 5 inches. Starting with the side that measures 4 inches, fold back and forth accordion style until you have a long folded piece. Secure one end by folding over and taping with clear tape. Make a loop of curling ribbon for a hanger and tape to the end of the fan. Tie a length of curling ribbon around the secured end of the fan and curl.

Cardboard Play Town
One of my sons' favorite toys has always been a play town made from empty boxes.

You will need:

  • An assortment of small empty boxes, such as macaroni boxes, salt containers, milk cartons, etc.
  • Empty paper towel tube
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Plain white or brown paper
  • Crayons or markers

Cut pieces of paper to cover the boxes and tape in place. Draw on windows, doors and other features for your buildings. To make a traffic light, cut circles of red, yellow, and green construction paper and glue to the paper towel tube.

Egg Carton Garden
Are the winter blues getting you down? Don't wait for spring, turn Styrofoam egg cartons into a garden!

You will need:

  • Styrofoam egg cartons
  • Scissors
  • Pipecleaners
  • Modeling clay or Play Dough
  • Styrofoam cup

Put some modeling clay or play dough into the bottom of a Styrofoam drinking cup. Cut the cup sections of the egg carton apart and cut petals in the cups so that they resemble tulips. Poke the pipe cleaner through the bottom center of your flower. Poke the other end of the pipe cleaner into the modeling clay in the drinking cup. Enjoy!

Other Ideas

Cut out designs from the wrapping paper and glue onto construction paper or card stock to make a greeting card. Using an old opened up envelope to make a pattern, trace and cut wrapping paper and fold in three of the points to slightly overlap forming an envelope. Secure the edges with glue. Fold down the final flap.

Reuse the mesh bags oranges come in to make a nest bag for birds. Fill the bag with short lengths of yarn, string, grass clippings and bits of lint from your dryer and hang in your yard. Our feathered friends will pull out the materials you have thoughtfully provided to line their nests.

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