Category Archives: gifts from recycled materials

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.

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.

Cool Thumb-controlled Watering Pot Made With Recycled Materials

I got the idea to make these thumb controlled pots from the pottery ones I’ve seen at Historic Williamsburg. The original earthenware “thumb pots” were used in 17th and 18th century English gardens. I reproduced this clever watering device using salvaged plastic bottles and jugs. It is ideal for watering delicate seedlings. I use this watering pot all the time now.

To Make:

Find a suitable “pot.” I love using maple syrup containers but I was successful making other smaller pots with smaller plastic milk bottles. The smaller bottles are easier for children.

Drill a hole in the center of the cap of your container. I used a 7/32nd drill bit. Next, drill small holes in the bottom. I used a 1/16th drill bit. When using softer plastic containers, it is possible to poke holes instead of using a drill. Make sure the cap is on tight; otherwise the water will not stay inside.

How it works:

It works similar to holding your thumb over the top of a drinking straw.

1. To fill your thumb pot, place into a bucket of water. Do not cover the hole in the top.

2. Hold your finger over the hole in the cap to prevent water from escaping the bottom as you lift.

3. Continue to hold your thumb over the hole as you lift.

4. Take your thumb off the hole when you are ready to water your plants. Removing your thumb allows the water to gently stream out the holes on the bottom.

How to hold a thumb pot.

Earth Day Celebration in Leonardtown MD 2011

Fun in the Making was at the Earth Day Celebration in Leonardtown MD again this year. The weather was perfect!

This year the free “green” craft was braided bracelets made from strips of recycled bed sheets. Lots and lots of children came by to make themselves one or more of these cool accessories.

This little girl showed off the head band that her mom made.

Sweet Spring Basket Craft: Wheat Grass Growing In Recycled Tray

This is a craft that is good for large groups of kids like school classes because the mushroom trays can be saved by the parents and the overall project will be very inexpensive. The handle for your “basket” can be made with a lot of different materials but I like the natural ones best. The photos show a basket handle made with a twisted piece of drift wood. You can grow grass seeds or wheat grass berries.

I waited too long to take these pictures: the grass is getting too tall. When we are done enjoying our grass baskets, I let my chickens enjoy the greens ! No wasting.

Note: This project is meant to be a centerpiece and is not meant to be carried around by the handle.

Follow this link for tips on growing wheat grass.

One more note:

I like growing wheat grass because it doesn’t take a huge amount of planning ahead. The plants will sprout in just a few days. When I grew the wheat grass in these mushroom trays, I soaked the seeds overnight and then put them on top of the potting soil, watered it, covered the tray with plastic for the first day or two and then watered only as needed. -Very easy child project.