Arts – Crafts and Recycling

There are so many ways to integrate recycling with arts and crafts and still have hours of entertainment and maybe make a few holiday gifts. One of my favorite crafts is to decopauge. The materials needed to do this are simply old magazines, a pair of scissors, some white glue and something to decorate. I've seen people use this art medium on every kind of article from wooden boxes up to queen bed head boards.

Once you have the item (or items) you want to decorate you can put them aside and start flipping through the magazines for pictures and words that jump up at you or help convey something you want to say. The great thing about this craft is that there is no "wrong" way to do it. Some people will use an entire advertisement including the background in the ad and others may cut out the person or object from the background. The idea is to have a piece of a page to be layered upon the object to be decorated.

After you have enough pictures and words cut out you can start to decorate your object. The ideas and creativity, from this point on, are endless! Use all cut outs of flowers and birds to decorate your project, cut out every picture of a dog and see how many you can find and use all of them to decorate your recycled project! Arrange your clippings onto the surface of whatever it is you're going to reuse or decorate and put a layer of glue over the entire project. Using white glue or Mod Podge will give you a clear coating over your art and when that layer is dry, coat it again, and so on.

The coatings of glue will protect your artwork and if you use a gloss-finish, it will have a nice shine to it, too. I started making "Blessings Boxes" for the Christmas gifts I would give to my children's teachers. I would reuse an old shoe box, and cover the entire outside of it with cut out pictures from magazines. The main objective was to cover up the shoe brand on the outside of the box with the pictures and words.

The idea behind the "Blessings Boxes" was that throughout the year, when there was a blessing in their life, maybe a ticket stub to a baseball game or a movie shared with a friend, birthday cards, get well cards, etc. they were to place these blessings into the box. The best part is that, during that year, when they had a day where they would feel blue or needed a smile, they knew they could always open their "Blessings Box" to be reminded of the beautiful things that have happened in their life.

These gifts were the talk of the elementary school the first year I made them and I will say that at the very beginning of every year after, my children's teachers would let me know how beautiful they thought my creations were and (wink, wink) they wouldn't mind getting one for themselves! The best part is that I never spent extra money making one of those gifts! It was a success all due to being recycled materials.

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