Posts tagged "crafts"

What can I reuse or recycle to make Advent calendars?

Advent started yesterday so really I should have asked this question last week but nevermind.

We don’t celebrate Christmas but I know that one or two people around the world do – and some of those people have Advent calendars to open on the run up to the 25th.

When I was a kid, I’m pretty sure my mum gave us the same calendar several years running, with the doors closed neatly back into place – it didn’t matter because the joy of opening the door to see what was behind it was enough. Then when I was my early teens in the early 1990s, chocolate advent calendars suddenly became cheap and wide available, the chocolate rather than the drawing of the bell or the reindeer became the goal and the calendar was suddenly disposable.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are some great examples of creative – and reusable – advent calendars out there – such as the this spool advent calendar kit from Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made – I imagine something similar could be made by recycling any sort of plastic tubing or even decorated toilet roll tubes if you haven’t got 24 cotton spools to hand. I love the idea of having treasure hunt elements to the messages or having Christmas preparation activities to-dos – or they could be silly jokes to get everyone warmed up for their Christmas crackers.

I’ve also seen some examples where people have gathered together 24 boxes – they could be old packaging painted or covered in paper as well as numbered – and stuck them together to make a countdown calendar with plenty of storage. They wouldn’t have to be filled with treats or gifts – tree decorations would work well – many kids would love to decorate the tree an item at a time as each item is revealed. And weekend days could be filled with craft supplies that they have to make into a tree decoration.

And it’s not strictly recycled but I also love the reusability of Attic 24 Lucy’s advent garland – it could be recycled if you used reclaimed yarn or upcycled fabric to make sewn stars instead of crochet).

Have you made an advert calendar by reusing or recycling anything?

Or have you seen any more great examples out and about on the web?

How can I reuse or recycle clothes patterns?

Carol sent us an email explaining:

I often see huge bins of clothes patterns at thrift stores. Most helplessly outdated or missing instructions. I have used them in the past as packing material but was wondering if there was any other uses. Seems like there has to be some use for the tissue type paper.

I’ve only just started making stuff from patterns but I’ve already built up a little stack of dressmakers’ tracing paper squares from the excess bits of paper from around the edges of the pattern. If I was more artistic/less clumsy, I’d imagine that I could make an interesting (low-power) lampshade by layering them around a frame or even a privacy shade panel for a window – but since I’m not, I’ll keep them in an envelope pocket in my sketch book for when I need to trace.

Lots of people seem to use them for decorative decoupage projects – for example, decorating little boxes, gift tags or furniture (I can’t find the pictures now but I’m sure I’ve seen a sewing table covered in an old pattern). Just remember to use some sort of sealer so they don’t get wet and/or tear.

They also be used for just about any tissue paper craft – the only “problem” being the somewhat muted colour compared to most bright tissue paper. That doesn’t mean they can’t look great though – pale flowers can still look fantastic whether as a bouquet or as mini fairy lightshades.

More practically, I do like Carol’s idea of using them as a packing material and they could also be used as delicate gift wrapping paper for handmade projects.

Any other suggestions?

Crazy-wonderful & crafty emails I’ve received recently

This is usually a links round-up but this week everything seems to have arrived in my inbox instead ;)

Daniel emailed us pictures of cannon he made reusing and recycling stuff. Yes, you read that right, a CANNON. (Ok, ok, a decorative rather than functioning cannon but still).

I applied for a job working on the gun side of BAe, I did not get a reply and took it upon my self to make my own as a personal token of disgust with them out of rubbish.

The barrel is made from a plastic spoil down pipe, which is resting on a tables extending brace that is found underneath, with the tow bar that was picked up off the road while walking the dog. The handles at the base of the barrel is a bit of broom handle, and the end cap is a plastic part of a polishing buff for cars. The brass hub cap is the back plate off a door handle, and the fire hole device is a letter of a car name badge, with the brass design in the middle coming from a handle back plate off an old video cabinet, the axle is a cut off from a scaffold pipe. It’s painted with black and copper paint from the shed.

Good job Sellafield replied!. (Didn’t get it.)

He also made a decorative well with a weather vane attachment for his garden:

The roof is made from slate taken from where a velux window was installed. The two support beams were from a shed, the rope was washed up on the beach, the rope is wrapped around the other half of the cannon barrel pictured earlier, the winding mechanism on the right side is part of the table extender mentioned earlier, the winding handle is a pedal and cog that has been adapted. The base is the wooden base of a fish tank that has a plastic liner and two fish-(not recycled).

The eagle is weather vane that always faces the wind and keeps seagulls out of my garden. This is made from a broken wheely bin with the wing tips heated to curl up, the legs are made from the same brush handle as the cannon and is set in attack mode with talons made from half a clothes peg. The eagle is painted in the eagle colours using shed stains, and the north, west, east and south is off a xmas and noel decorations… Full time score=EAGLE 1:0 SEAGULLS.

Great reusing & recycling Daniel – fantastic to see so many things being reused so creatively!

Patty got in touch to tell us about her reuses. She reused some old placemats to make crumb catchers/bibs for messy eaters on the go:

It catches all the droppings from sloppy eaters! The bottom edge snaps up to catch the crumbs. A ribbon is around the neck and attaches to a small button. It can also be unsnapped, rolled up and buttoned to keep it snug and then just rubber band it to the visor to be used in the car.

She also told us about using old egg boxes (particularly plastic ones) in her jewellery drawer:

I have used my cartons in my jewelry drawer. My rings and ear rings fit where the eggs go and necklaces and bracelets go around the opened top side where the separators stick up. That keeps them from tangling. If you have a deep drawer, they stack beautifully!

As someone who is constantly detangling bracelets & necklaces, thanks for the great suggestion Patty!

This week’s reducing, reusing & recycling roundup

  • I’m a big fan of reusing milk bottles for all sorts of things and this idea for using them as stationery organisers is fantastic. If they were for use by little delicate hands, I’d be tempted to sticky-tape the cut edges to make them less sharp.
  • Kristin from Craft Leftovers used the offcuts from fitting a bamboo blind to make coordinating twined coasters.
  • Jan McNeil, a Sculpture & Photography student from the University of Ulster, emailed to ask if anyone has any old baby dummies/pacifiers lying around – she wants them for an art project. Get in touch if you’ve got some – or have any ideas for where she might be able to get them from – and I’ll pass your details/suggestions along.
  • I love the idea of this toothbrush holder made out of old toothpaste tubes. (Although I’d want to make sure it was easy to clean – which, with the lips, I’m not sure it would be in this design).
  • This reusable lunch bag how-to uses new shower curtains but it could equally be made from a clean old one. A great way to reuse to reduce.
  • Someone – a name didn’t make it through so I don’t know who – sent over some photos of a birthday table cloth made from old balloons: “I recycle my birthday ballons by gluing them to a clear plastic sheet, gotten in the fabric dept. They make a cute table cover for the party!”


This week’s reducing, reusing & recycling link round-up