Got Junkmail? Upcycle it!

December’s catalog avalanche, undeterred by signing up for a catalog reduction service, included a beautiful Rolex watch catalog and a stunning red Cartier jewelry catalog. Each catalog is printed on heavy glossy paper, and bound in heavier front and back covers. I recycled the inner pages and saved the covers for some future, as yet undetermined, craft. The quality of these papers can’t be beat, so why not use them for kids crafts or collages? I know, I do see the irony of scavenging a Rolex catalog for crafting.

So far, I made one scribble/crayon resist painting of a fir tree and used the other cover to test my brush strokes. The scrap paper used while painting with water colors can be used to cut out shapes for collages, so use both sides and save the scrap paper too.

Looking at my drafting table usually makes me think about how I really need to do that ‘magic’ tidying up routine as described in a recent bestselling book. On the other hand, I am doing my bit to keep lots of things – from Ball and baby food jars to plastic container tops and disposable plates, foil trays and lots of half-used scrap paper of all kinds out of the waste stream. So avoid recycling guilt by upcycling stuff. and just think, all the money you save on craft supplies you can put toward a Cartier watch!

Upcycling catalogs for crafts

Upcycled Catalogs


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Fun Making the Yearly Christmas Card: the true story

Christmas by definition, as a birthday celebration, should be joyous and fun, but the existence of holiday stress is no secret. Article after article recounts the stress of shopping, selecting gifts, decorating, traveling, cooking and family gatherings. I just want to add to that list: Christmas cards – if you decide to nurture your inner crafter and make your own. The story begins as I paint a whimsical little watercolor of a fox on a beach contemplating a lit Chrisrmas tree. So far, so good. My inner critic thinks the charm outweighs the blops  and blips that watercolors tend to produce. ‘Don’t be a perfectionist, just scan it and keep going with the card-producing process,’ I tell myself. ‘Watery drips are inevitable with this difficult medium,’ I further admonish myself.

Fox on a beach looking at a lit Christmas tree

Red Fox and the Christmas Tree

So I turn on my new computer with the truly annoying Windows 10 and turn on the scanner and printer. I also have installed a new (to me) bit of software called Adobe Photoshop Elements, a kind of cheaper, easier version of Photoshop, but still known for its ‘steep learning curve.’ I have got all these bits of technology to play well enough with each other and have been fiddling around with Photoshop a bit, so I feel I can pull this off. 
Now let me just skip past a week or so of me fiddling around, muttering, doing calming breathing exercises, Googling for advice and tutorials, swearing in an un- holiday suitable way, and finally realizing that no decent card of any kind is going to lurch out of my printer anytime soon enough to get my cards mailed in time for THIS Christmas! And also letting it be known that ‘steep learning curve’ is a euphemism for what idiot designed this freakin’ software? 

So then I decide to use a simple black and white drawing from my sketchbook of a November-blooming rose, so that I don’t have to mess with colors and pixels and other complicated stuff that all those programs and gadgets don’t seem to like. But I can’t get it centered and sometimes it comes out upside down or on the wrong quadrant of the paper. Please, please don’t say this is easy. It isn’t. My computer, printer, scanner and all the software on them hate me and the feeling is mutual.

Rose blooming in November

November Rose

So then I decide to take the fox painting to Staples to scan and turn into folded cards. The result is ok, but problems happened with the card stock not matching the envelopes-sold-separately, and the fact that I painted a square painting seems to confuse the printer who informs me that either I get square cards, but there are no square envelopes, or I will have blank margins on the top or bottom, but not both, or they could crop the painting only they can’t do that. Huh?  There is a line of print center customers behind me as I contemplate cropping the moon or the fox or having weird margins or weird envelopes. And realizing that my square watercolor paper block was not a good choice for card -making. Who knew? Not me.

Meanwhile back at the Crappy Crafter tech center, aka: a corner of my family room, my scanner is no longer speaking wirelessy to my printer, my computer now asks for my password twice before it lets me get to my desktop, my picture collection is scattered in various ‘clouds’ randomly, or eaten up by photoshop, and I am ready to hit some heavily spiked eggnog. Without the nog. I hate that stuff. Bah humbug!

Merry Christmas and may the Fox be with you. Consider this blog post my card to you. I seem to have spilled the eggnog on my Staples bag.


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Sock Snowfamily Update

Since posting the picture of the Sock Snow People on this blog (see previous post)  and on my Facebook page, it became clear that the Crappy Crafter followers are picking favorites among the Snow Gang.  There were allegations that some of the Sock Gang were snockered  and needed to have the keys to their sleigh confiscated. So a slight makeover was called for those who seemed to be leaning, or falling, over. First of all, I actually glued on their facial features after a few days so they would not shed eyes and carrot noses on the mantel. Then I added buttons for respectability. They are still without clothes other than hats and scarves, but the buttons suggest aspirations to proper attire. Finally, I gave them their own Christmas tree and a large ‘Brain’ coral to lean on hoping that some holiday spirit and IQ points might be attributed to them by association. But Momma’s dark glasses and the family’s  rakish tilt just won’t quit. “Happy holidays,” they seem to be saying, and “Sheers!” (Cheers, it’s just frozen mouth that makes them slur.)

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Sock, not Sick, Snow People

The Crappy Crafters reunited last night to magically transform ordinary socks into snowmen. No sewing required – just snip the toe off the sock, tie one end of the main sock with string, stuff with batting, tie another string for the neck, pop the toe part of the sock on its head for a hat, make a scarf and features out of felt or ribbon, and that’s about it. Google or Pinterest the phrase ‘sock snowman’ for examples and instructions. At Crappy Crafters, we don’t follow instructions too closely, so we recommend other sources if you require details. Despite our casual attitude and application of a fair amount of sangria, the results look pretty cute, dontcha think? Wait! Are those snowmen snockered? Autocorrect insists these cute little things are ‘sick’ not ‘sock’ people. What’s up autocorrect?

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Terrarium: first steps

Large glass jar with a lid: layer with gravel, charcoal, sand, moss. Select succulents. Pot in small detergent cups. To be inserted in next post…and assembled with figurines, pebbles, seashells…to create a self-sustaining environment.

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More Terrariums

Found vases. Layers of gravel, charcoal, sand, soil, moss, small plants, pebbles, seashells, sea glass, figurines. Water with ice cubes infrequently.

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May 29, 2017 · 2:48 pm


Use recycled clear glass vases or fishbowls to create a mini-terrarium: layer pebbles, then moss. Sink a small jade plant or other succulent planted in a clear detergent top into the moss. Decorate with sea shells, small frog or lizard figurines. Water with a small ice cube weekly.


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Filed under garden craft, glass painting, upcycling