How to Make Arts and Crafts From Recycled Materials

Green living is driven by the three “Rs”: reduce, reuse, recycle. Producing arts and crafts is a great way to meet all three Rs and gain hours of entertainment. You can create decorated items for display at home and involve your children in the activity. You can even make a few holiday gifts at very low out-of-pocket cost.

Decopauge is a great example. The only materials needed are old magazines, a pair of scissors, some white glue and something to decorate. I’ve seen people use this art form on every kind of article from wooden boxes up to bed headboards.

Once you have the item (or items) you want to decorate you can put them aside and start flipping through the magazines for pictures and words that jump up at you or help convey something you want to say. The great thing about decoupage is that there is no “wrong” way to do it. Some people will use an entire advertisement including the background in the ad. Others may cut out the person or object from the background. The idea is to have a piece of a page to be layered upon the object to be decorated.

After you have cut out enough pictures and words you can begin to decorate your object. Everything is driven from this point on by your ideas and creativity. You can, for example, use all cut outs of flowers and birds to decorate your project, or you could cut out every picture of a dog and see how many you can use as you decorate your recycled art project.

Arrange your clippings onto the surface of whatever it is you’re going to reuse or decorate and put a layer of glue over the entire project. Using white glue or Mod Podge will give you a clear coating over your art. When the first layer is dry, coat it again. Continue recoating until you are happy with the appearance. The coatings of glue will protect your artwork, and if you use a gloss-finish, your art work will have a nice shine to it, as well.

My sister started making “Blessings Boxes” for the Christmas gifts that she would give to her children’s teachers. She reuses an old shoe box, and covers the entire outside of it with cut out pictures from magazines. The main objective was to cover up the shoe brand on the outside of the box with the pictures and words that adhered to a central theme. Memorable items, maybe a ticket stub to a baseball game or a birthday card or party invitation can be placed into the box as reminders of these events. The recipient can then open their “Blessings Box” to be reminded of the events or occurrences whenever they wish.

Boxes can be made for many other purposes: treasure boxes for kids, storage boxes for photographs, birthday gifts for friends and family members. There are other similar ideas for reusing recycled materials for arts and crafts projects as well. The best part is that since all the materials are reused and recycled, no extra money is required to create these items. This is a great way to incorporate the three Rs into your green lifestyle.