Oct 25

wax tart skull

I got these silicone ice cube molds at the dollar store that are shaped like skulls. I thought of several projects you could make with them, and have posted tutorials for a bunch of them over at Dollar Store Crafts. I didn’t realize just how fun a one dollar mold could be! I still have four or five ideas I haven’t had time to make yet.

Recycled Wax Tarts are my most recent project (photo at top of post). Wax tarts are scented wax you can use in a potpourri warmer. I made them from recycled wax off of a cheese – yes, yes you can do that!

Molded Papier-Mache: this technique was new to me, and made for fun teeny tiny Day of the Dead calavera decorations.

Molded Sugar Skulls: a fun twist on traditional sugar skulls, and you can eat them! Serve them with coffee or tea.

Melt & Pour Soap on a Rope: cheap ‘n easy soapmaking project using the dollar store skull mold.

A few other silicone mold crafts:

Jun 15

During any given week, I do at least two or three craft projects. I am posting them here, there, and everywhere, and sometimes it takes a month or more between when I make the project to when I can post about it. There are a few things I value in a craft tutorial: it uses fairly common household items, it isn’t complicated to do (anyone can do it), and is compelling enough that it excites people to actually make the project. Here are some of my recent projects.

Make a Mod Mobile: This paper mobile is based on one of the talented artist Jenn Ski‘s giclee prints, and it has to be my favorite thing in my house right now. Instructions at Dollar Store Crafts.

Make a Peg Family: I wrote a tutorial for making peg dolls of your family members. This is a super-cute gift for kids (ages 3 and up. My 2 year-old put his own peg in his mouth and destroyed the paint job!). Find it at Skip to My Lou.

Make Paper Lanterns: I updated the traditional paper lantern craft project with a double layer of pretty scrapbook paper. I love this because it helped me bust into my stash of scrapbooking paper. Check out my guest post at Salty Pineapple.

I am a regular contributor at AmazingMoms, too, so here are some of my recent projects for them:

Make Bike Streamers
(This pic is my 2 year-old son posed on his brother’s bike. He totally can’t ride it! Ha!)

Patriotic Tablecloth Weights
Painting rocks is fun! They make super cute table cloth weight clips.

Recycled Clothing Crinkly Baby Toy
I used some stained clothing and a baby wipes container to make this crinkly baby toy. It was my infant son’s favorite toy for a long time.

Victorian Flower Cones
I love how these cones turned out! So pretty. I made them from party hats and used leftover broken jewelry and ribbon scraps from my stash.

And, sometimes crafts don’t work out, which is why I founded CraftFail as a place crafters could share their not-so-awesome projects. Check out my first draft of reusable cloth pads. Not pretty. I’m not posting a pic because I want you to be surprised when you check it out.

Mar 17

I’m having a good brooch week! With recycled and upcycled materials, too!

Recycled leather pins by Maize Hutton:
(I was the happy recipient of one of these this week – thank you Maize!). If you aren’t familiar, Maize is the genius behind the totally adorable reclaimed silver jewelry at MommyTags.com. Check this out: you can preserve your child’s drawing on a silver tag! So awesome! And it also comes with a wood-mounted rubber stamp of the same doodle so you can stamp that cute image on greeting cards and more.

Doodle Tag at MommyTags

Grape Soda Badge by WhimsyLove

Yes! Just like the badges from the movie UP (LOVE that movie! This link takes you to Amazon, where you can buy the Blu-Ray with a free DVD copy – bargain!) – you can have your very own grape soda badge made by Nikki at WhimsyLove. My son is obsessed with badges thanks to the movie, and he was thrilled with this grape soda badge!

Mar 7
recycling at Burgerville – photo by MikZ

We’re used to recycling: paper, glass, aluminum, soda cans, plastic — we’ve even gotten used to the idea of composting (sometimes even at fast food restaurants). Reusing is easy — shopping at thrift stores isn’t a stretch, and we might even refill old yogurt containers with leftovers instead of using plastic wrap or a zip-top bag, or bring shopping bags to the grocery store to reuse again and again.

Some of us are more vigilant than others.

And most of us have forgotten the cardinal command of the 3 R’s: REDUCE. Sure, we reuse and recycle, but what about minimizing our need to do those things?

I'm giving away some recycled goodie packs for crafting goodness - see bottom of post for details

We’re Americans (I know not all of my readers are), and we do what we like to do and have been conditioned to do: consume! We buy things whenever we want them, usually with little regard to the waste generated by the simple process of unpackaging them, and without a thought to all the waste that went into making them and shipping them from factory to store.

So, reducing.

Pam at Gingerbreadsnowflakes has been saving her packaging for awhile. She is doing a series on making things out of trash, but she posted some photos of just how much she has saved and started a discussion on how much stuff we buy only to turn around and throw most of it (the packaging) away. Sure, we can reuse some of it, craft with some of it, but in all honesty, there’s more than we can reuse and we have to dispose of the rest.

Pam said it best:

And think about it – just how many oatmeal boxes, glass jars, tin cans, or plastic bottles can we realistically repurpose?

The answer seems to me to be – not very many and certainly not as many as pass through our hands in a years time.  Don’t misunderstand – I am all for repurposing!  But there is a limit to how many items even the most energetic among us can repurpose.

I’m not preaching to you because I’m as guilty as anyone. I have high intentions, but often my tiredness/laziness/need to just get it done outweighs my desire to be kind to the earth. Being idealistic doesn’t do anyone any good; action is what makes a difference.

There are a lot of things I do wrong. A lot of things I can change without much impact on my current lifestyle. And a few things I can do with a slight impact on my lifestyle. Not that I’m opposed to changing my lifestyle, but baby steps are usually more effective than making grand pronouncements that I have no chance of living up to immediately. You have to train before you can run a marathon.

Playset I made from recycled box

Things I currently do:

  • Recycling almost all packaging (cardboard, cans, plastic containers, glass)
  • Buy in bulk sometimes
  • Reuse some containers
  • Go out of my way to recycle plastic (it isn’t accepted in the recycling bins in our neighborhood)
  • Buy used if possible (no packaging)
  • Buy from local outlets (farmer’s markets, mostly)
  • Make crafts from recycled materials (sometimes)

Things I could do without even breaking a sweat:

  • Look in my recycling bin first before buying new (paper, cardboard, containers, or for craft supplies)
  • Design projects around recycled items instead of new
  • Buy less stuff (ask myself if I really need it – the answer will often be no)
  • Buy bulk more often
  • Cook from scratch with bulk items (instead of using readymade stuff: cookies, other baked goods)
  • Avoid buying overpackaged items or items with unrecyclable packaging
  • Reuse certain packaging I throw away (washing zip-top bags)
  • Buy toys and other items that are made from recycled materials

Thanks for your post, Pam, and for getting me thinking about reducing (instead of JUST reusing and recycling).

Fun ways to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle:

Thanks for sticking with me this far! I want to share some amazing scrap packs I got from SCRAP with two of my readers, so comment here with your favorite recycling crafty idea (with a link if you like) and I will choose a winner via random.org on Tuesday.

The giveaway booty:

I super-love these packages the kind folks at SCRAP have put together with random goodies for your crafting pleasure (LOVE those recycled labels they used to close up the bags).

Cute ingredients label.

Once again, to win one of these goodie bags, comment here with your favorite recycling crafty idea (with a link if you like) and I will choose a winner via random.org on Tuesday.

Oct 12


I have a tendency to save all kinds of random uh, trash because of its crafting potential. I try to watch those hoarding shows to help curb my tendency to “save” – ha ha! Well, I managed to use this pretty Kettle Chip bag for a craft project, but I’m off to throw a few things away and donate the non-trash items to goodwill. In the meantime, here are the instructions for making a recycled chip bag book cover.

You can use a variety of destined-for-the-dumpster materials to make unique bookcovers that, along with duct tape, will be sturdy and protect textbooks when they get shoved into a locker or a brimming backpack. I used two potato chip bags, but you can also use cereal bags, paper sacks (an old standby), or a variety of other product packaging. With the addition of colorful duct tape, bookcovers become almost indestructable! Using recycled packaging also teaches kids about recycling, and demonstrates that it’s a good idea to reuse things whenever possible.

Bonus: you can find patterned duct tape (like the plaid in the photo above) at big box stores right now. I found the plaid at Target, and some tie-dye printed tape at Wal-mart. Clear packing tape is also a great choice because it will allow the artwork on the recycled packaging to show through.

Time Needed for Project: About 15 minutes per book.



  • Recycled packaging, such as a potato chip bag (I needed two to cover my medium-sized book.
  • Duct tape in one or more fun colors (or packing tape)
  • Book to cover
  • Scissors
  • Dish soap, water, and sponge or washcloth
  • Optional: Stickers


Preparing the Packaging:

  1. Cut off the bottom of the bag above the sealed seam.
  2. Cut off the back seam.
  3. Wash bag thoroughly with dish soap and a sponge or washcloth to remove all residual oil and crumbs. You can do this in your dishwater if you wash dishes by hand!
  4. Wipe both sides of bag dry. Make sure bag is completely clean and dry before you begin covering your book.


Here are my two chip bags, all clean and dry.

Note: if your kid isn’t jazzed about the idea of using an old chip bag for a book cover (disclaimer: my kids are 3 and under, so they think everything is cool! I don’t know if recycled chip bags will fly with your middle schooler!), let the inside of the bag face outward, and they can decorate it with stickers or duct tape as they prefer.


Assembling the Bookcover:

Tape your two packages together using a piece of duct tape. Allow the tape to extend over the edge of the package.


Turn bags over and wrap tape over the edge. See how the two bags don’t perfectly line up? Don’t worry about that because you will be folding this part again anyway, and it won’t be seen. You can also tape the inside of the bags where they overlap, if you want.


Lay your book on your prepared chip bags. Make a crease in the bag along the top of the book, as a guide. Remove book and fold chip bags at the crease, keeping fold as straight and even as possible.

07bookcoverLay book on top of folded edge (leave a tiny bit of room at the top of the chip bag to make it easier for the book to slide into the bookcover once it’s assembled). Crease chip bag at bottom of book to make a guideline. Remove book and fold bottom at crease, keeping fold as straight and even as possible.

I taped each folded section in the middle, but not at the ends (you want to leave the ends open so the book covers can slide into them). Chip bags don’t maintain the folds as well as paper does, so the tape helped keep everything in place.

08bookcoverClose book cover over book, and check the placement of any artwork you want to show on the front of the book. Fold end over the edge of the slightly opened book cover to make a crease.

09bookcoverInsert one side of book into the folded end of the bookcover.


Tape to secure (make sure you aren’t taping any area where the book is, and that the bookcover is able to slide when opened and closed.


Repeat process for other side of book (trim bookcover if necessary, before you put it onto the book). I found that it was slightly more tricky to coax the book into this side.


You can stop here if you want, or add additional decorations like stickers or cut-out pictures covered in clear tape, or a nametag or book label.

13bookcoverI added a couple extra pieces of duct tape just for fun.


I really wanted to try my new plaid duct tape out!

Dec 16

I’ve heard of using fused plastic for making bags, but I haven’t found a lot of great ways to make it pretty. Well, Crafting A Green World just posted this genius tutorial on using plastic baggies and filling them with pretty stuff, fusing them, and making them into pretty ornaments.

Check it out! I’m loving this idea, and she made it seem so simple!

Oct 8

Yesterday I posted about an Autumn Wreath using found materials. I tried a second project with the found materials as well, that was not as successful.

I had the idea to use a paper bag and put some gathered clippings in it. I envisioned a rustic-looking bouquet in a paper bag and fastened with a bow. When I began executing my idea, I wanted to try a decorative yarn lacing effect. The resulting “cornucopia” shape is pretty unsightly.

I just tossed this one into the trash can after I snapped photos of it. Not all your craft ideas are winners, and it’s important to realize that! (It might work if you needed it for a bouquet or something, as you wouldn’t see the handle as much.)

Oct 7

I gathered some fallen oak sprigs and used clippings from our bushes (I have been trimming them – they are way overgrown!) to make some fall decorations for outside.

One of my main objectives was to use only materials that I found outside or had on hand. I used:

  • Yard clippings
  • Found oak sprigs
  • Spare green yarn

I made this wreath by tying clippings (ranging from 1-2′ long) in a diamond shape with the yarn (I found a small ball of it in the garage). Then I tied on the oak sprigs. I attached it to my fence with the found yarn.

Not bad for yard debris!

Aug 20

Denise at Knitting Without Needles posted this great idea and tutorial for DIY knitting looms made from junk you can find around your house.

Check it out!

Apr 30

squid tieI love Jessica’s whimsical applique! Check her shop out for some wonderful one-of-a-kind items!

Shop name/URL:

Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Jessica Wynne Plymate, I’m 33, I drink too much coffee and I have a very overactive imagination. Since I was very young I knew I wanted to be an artist. A few years ago I had my last exhibit as a painter. The show went well, but something was missing from my work- I suddenly felt like I was trying to be a part of something in which I didn’t really belong. I decided to take a break from it and, although I don’t remember the catalyst, I ended up putting my designs on clothes instead of canvas. It felt so natural to merge my hobby of sewing with my need to doodle. I find it more personally rewarding to see someone wearing my designs than just looking at them.

What are your main inspirations?
I find inspiration everywhere- a joke between friends, a song, a face, a feeling, my obnoxious dog, staring out the window… I am constantly amazed at the talent of others and it pushes me to think harder about what I’m doing and to put more of myself into it.

What is your favorite material?

With a little embarrassment, I have to confess my love of polyester. It comes in the craziest colors, prints, textures and it sews like a dream.

What new technique or craft has caught your eye lately? Want to try anything new?

Wow, I don’t know how to answer that. I have a lot of new ideas swimming around in my head right now but not enough time to make them all happen. Some of the very talented sellers on Etsy have given me a new appreciation for things like polymer clay and recycling trash into jewelry, but I’m pretty focused on continuing to grow in my craft of applique.

What new item in your shop are you excited about?

Right now I particularly like the jellyfish skirts and the way all the different trims and textures flow and intertwine when worn. I originally came up with the jellyfish as a way to use up my huge pile of notions. I quickly fell in love with the design and had to buy more rick rack and lace so I could make more of them.

What advice do you have for indie business owners/designers?
Do what you love, not what you think will sell. Putting passion and personality into what you do is what makes you stand out in a crowd. Take risks, don’t be afraid of change, be willing to work harder than you smoking deerever thought you could and don’t give up.

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