Category Archives: upcycling

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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Filed under kids crafts, upcycling

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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Filed under holiday crafts, kids crafts, upcycling


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

Upcycled Soda Bottle Planters

Seltzer bottle, cut in half, holes poked, fishing line attached. Place dirt and coleus directly in planter or place another pot inside the bottle. These have lasted from September to March and the plants are still thriving!image

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March 14, 2017 · 12:49 pm

Dryerlint Dog

dryerlintdogIf you have a dog, you probably have dryerlint with actual dog hair in it. If you have raised kids, you may also have one of those make-your-own paper kits complete with a little deckle and mold somewhere in your house. Well, I do. You could say I have trouble throwing out ‘useful’ stuff,  so putting 2 and 2 together, I decided to make paper out of dryerlint. Then of course, it follows as night follows day, to cut that hairy paper into dog shapes and make greeting cards out of it. Right? Isn’t that how everyone thinks? I am still very flattered that my dryerlint dog cards were voted most creative and most disgusting one holiday season by a recipient. Above, you can see DD is sporting a festive candy foil collar for the season.

The Crappy Crafters have not yet made handmade paper, but if we do, I think we could incorporate all kinds of neat stuff into the paper –  pulp like flowers, seeds, or confetti made from those little circles from the paper punch. You do save those, right?

It’s about that time of year when Dryerlint Dog needs to be dressed up for the holidays. Let me get right to that. Right after I do a little vacuuming, er supply gathering.

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Filed under upcycling

Little boxes made of ticky-tacky

I’m sorry to be the one to put an annoying song in your head for the day*, but remember the folksong about ‘Little Boxes,’ an annoyingly righteous bit about the sameness of 1960’s American suburban culture and housing developments? Well the Crappy Crafters took on the little boxes challenge and not one box was at all the same as any other when we were done.

Instructions: take a small wooden box. Paint it. Decoupage it. Glue on stuff. Feet, as mentioned somewhere else in this blog, are always a good bet to add whimsey and weirdness to any crafterpiece. Feet can be made of marbles, flat marbles or, if you really want whimsey in a big way, glue actual plastic toy feet to the bottom of the box. It’s kind of a creepy and unexpected touch. Of course, creepy is better than sameness, right? Gather up your stuff and start your glue guns, craft people.

boxes little boxes

Big box and two smallish boxes. Duh.

*More information about ‘earworms’  those annoying songs that get caught in your head. AAaagh!

Lyrics: Little Boxes 

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.

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Filed under assemblage, upcycling

Clementine Box Shrines

Clementine boxesThe Clementine Box Shrine (hereafter CBS, no, not that one) was one of the Crappy Crafters’ first projects after the great book group schism*. We posted about the CBS’s on the hilarious blog CraftFail. Comments on that CraftFail post are still dribbling in at the mad pace of one a year. You can read the original story by clicking on the link below.

Why do we do terrible things to unsuspecting clementine boxes, you may ask? Well, one of the founding principles of the Crappy Crafters** is this existential question: we ask ourselves what can we do with all those useful-seeming bits of flotsam and jetsam we baby boomers all have around our houses? The socially aware word for reusing materials for crafts is upcycling; the artsy fartsey word might be vernacular or folk art. The CC word is, well, we don’t have a word, we just do. We experience. We see, we glue, we conquer. We hot-glue stuff to other stuff and amazingly lots of people want to know about this whole Crappy Crafter experience. We should make a kit. But here’s the scoop for free. Take a box, any box. Apply paint. Glue stuff onto it and in it. Put feet on it. Feet are always a nice addition. And remember ‘less is not more’. More is more in the CC universe. So there Mies!

Read the original Clementine Box story on Craft Fail

*Crappy Crafters as an entity was a spin-off from a local book group. See the ever-informative ‘About Us’ page for details of the great Book Group Breakup.

**CC Founding Principles = the first unwritten bylaw (see our ‘About Us’ page, look up, up, yes click on that tab) which is have fun and don’t take yourselves seriously, and two, do not assign reading, and three do not let lack of expertise stop you and four, don’t be such a darn perfectionist.

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Filed under Uncategorized, upcycling