Category Archives: children’s crafts (recycled materials)

Paper Mache Valentine Heart Craft

I made these paper Mache Valentine Hearts but they are simple enough for children to make.

Here is how I made these. I cut out heart shapes from pieces of salvaged cardboard. A cardboard box works well. Next, I crumpled up newspaper to give the heart volume. Then I used paper Mache techniques to finish the hearts. Basically, you use strips of newspaper that have been dipped into a mixture of flour and water. Squeeze excess water off the strips by pulling the strips between two fingers.

I’ll do a tutorial on paper Mache another time. When you get the shape you want, you are ready to let it dry. I painted mine red after it was completely dry. When the paint dried I painted on a clear varnish. This gives it a glossy look and helps preserve the hearts. I made these hearts about 13 years ago and they are still great.

Have fun!

P.S. Don’t you love our door within a door!? It is perfect kid size.

Gifts You Can Make Yourself: Neck Warmer And Muscle Relaxer

These neck warmers/ muscle relaxers are especially nice in the winter but are useful all year. Heat one up and put on your shoulders to relax tense muscles. Warm yourself when coming in from the cold or use it to warm up your feet when crawling into bed on chilly nights.

They work well as a cold pack too. Store one in the freezer in a sealed plastic bag. Your kids will likely prefer a cold “rice” pack over a bag of frozen peas. The rice bags are softer and not as cold. You might want to make a smaller bag for this purpose.

Heat it up in the microwave for a minute or two. Check after a minute to see if it is the desired temperature. Don’t over-heat because the filler can burn. Be careful that you don’t overheat because it can burn your skin.

My young students made these for gifts at my recent December “green” craft workshops. This is a great project suitable for beginner sewers.

Think Mother’s day gift, Christmas gift, get well gift…

How to:

Fold and cut. However you fold your fabric, you should end up with a rectangle that is about 18 inches long and 5.5 inches wide. You need a top and a bottom. You can custom make yours longer or shorter.

Sew with good sides touching. Make sure you sew all the way to the edge. You don’t want the rice to fall out the corners! Clip corners.

Turn right side out. Use a knitting needle to gently poke the corners out. Be careful not to poke a hole in the corners while doing this.

Add rice. I use about two pounds of rice for each neck warmer. You can also use oat wheat berries, flaxseeds or dried corn. You can also add a little lavender if you like or scented oils.

Tuck in the raw edges. Pin and then machine sew the opening closed. Hand sew if you prefer.

You can sew it in sections if you like to keep the filler from going all to one side. I don’t think this is necessary however.

There rice bags are also great to use as a hand rest when typing. I love to use it when I’m getting chilly working on the computer.

This one was made by re-purposing the fabric from unwanted flannel PJ’s.

How To Make Eco Friendly Tissue Paper Flowers

Recently it occurred to me that the tissue paper wrapper of Seventh Generation toilet paper could be used to make awesome tissue paper flowers. I did some experimenting and was happy with the results. These flowers are great for party decorations.

How to:

Stack paper

I used four pieces of the tissue paper wrapper for these flowers.

Fold paper

Fold the paper like a fan: accordion style. Make the first fold (1/2 inch to 1 inch wide) then turn the paper over and fold again keeping the folds approximately the same width. Keep folding and turning until you run out of paper.

Tie

Use a salvaged twist tie to gather in the center. Twist ties can be salvaged from the packaging of bread, lettuce, and even electronics.

Unfold

Pull up the top layer of tissue paper being careful not to rip it.

Pull up the second layer,

the third layer,

and the fourth.

Adjust the layers to make your flower look good.

You can keep the flower fluffy or you can crush the flower long way (not flatten) and then trim off the top of the flower. The flower in the glass was done in this way.

This flower looks nice in a fun bright green thrift store vase.

Perfect to make at a bridal shower in conjunction with toilet paper wedding dresses!

Be creative. These flowers look nice displayed in glasses, directly on the table, and even taped directly to the wall. Be careful what tape you use; however, you don’t want to peel the wall paint.

Having a black and white party? These would be just the thing.

In the past we reused this paper by giving it to our pet rat for nesting material.

Does anyone know of any other toilet paper that is wrapped with usable paper?

Cone Tree Craft With A Surprise

I wanted something to decorate the kids table for Christmas dinner this year and this is what I came up with. It is a festive forest of wrapping paper trees with a surprise inside. You can make them too. Hide the treat/ gift inside or place it in the trunk of the tree. If it is inside, kids will have the fun of “unwrapping” the gift. If you place the gift in the trunk, kids can take the tree home as a party favor. You decide.

This is also a great project to do on Christmas day! Use different pieces of wrapping paper after opening your Christmas presents. Let the kids make a lot and decorate the house with these festive trees.

You will need: scrape pieces of wrapping paper or brown packing paper, salvaged paper cups, toilet roll tubes, and some glue or paste. A treat or small toy is optional. If you use new paper cups you are missing the point of this project. I don’t like disposable paper cups but sometimes it is necessary when out. I save those cups for future craft projects like this.

Different cups will make different sized cones. Experiment to see what size paper is needed for the size cup you are using.

They look stylish without a stem too.

Decorative Swags Made With The Sweet Little Pinecones Of Hemlock Trees

Finding and gathering the pine cones is half the fun of this project.

This is what a Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) plant looks like. It is native to some parts of Maryland, as well as, much of New England.

I collected these during a visit to NH.

These are simple to make. Tie the pinecones to a string one at a time; working your way along the string.

I don’t think I captured just how cute these swags are but I think you get the idea.