Upcycling Clothespin Springs

Posted on September 27, 2016 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

I know, I know, I was supposed to put this up days ago so apologies for being tardy in posting this idea but, hey, it's a busy time of year.

Okay, so we've made use of our surplus clothespins, now what do we do with all those little springs? No, I'm not planning to toss mine. Instead here's a lovely idea for reusing these from Michele L. over at Michele Lina over at Mich L. in L.A

Michele's upcycled clothespin springs couldn't be lovelier. There are loads of other jewellry ideas for these springs. but I think Michele's are probably the best I've seen.

For her how-to photos and instructions, click here.

As I don't have the tools (nor the talent!), my idea is simpler. 

Yup - a simple necklace and I've had lots of compliments on it. Very few guessed what the necklace was made of. To make, all I did was slip the springs together in a circle. Easy-peasy and no tools required.

Upcycling Clothespins

Posted on September 15, 2016 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This past Sunday afternoon was my afternoon for entertaining some kids where I live. Usually I keep the kids busy with some recycling/upcycling craft and this afternoon would be no different - but what to do? A few days ago, a neighbour had handed me a bag of clothespins (she didn't know why she had so many) and had challenged me to recycle these in some creative way. So, of course, I, in turn, decided to challenge my little friends to come up with new ideas for using these clothespins. After a bit of discussion, we decided that trivets would be fun (and easy) to make (after I explained what trivets were!).

So having tossed the gauntlet (do you toss a gauntlet??), the kids took up the challenge.

In preparation for this challenge, I removed all the springs from the clothespins to prevent any fingers from being squished. Then I handed each kid a small paintbrush, a container of wood glue, and, of course, clothespins. Here's what we made:

Petie and Tim made the ones on the left and I made the one on the right (hey, couldn't let the kids have all the fun and I do need a trivet!).

Akim and Libby created these two which they named Sun and Star.

Not to be undone, little four-year old Jonah (with a little help) made this cutie he's calling Box. We didn't have time to decorate or paint the trivets but each kid took one to finish off at home. Mine is staying unadorned.

Later, I'll show you what you can do with the springs removed from the clothespins.



Himmeli Mobiles - Upcycling Drinking Straws

Posted on July 28, 2016 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

What do paper drinking straws and a Finnish Christmas ornament have to do with each other? Since I first spotted himmeli mobiles at Ferm Living last winter, I've become somewhat fixated by these sophisticated mobiles. 

In case you didn't know, himmeli is a traditional craft from Finland that is normally created out of real straw and has various levels of intricacy. Himmeli are put up every Christmas to bring good luck to a household. I fell for this craft for its geometric and minimalist simplicity. Now it's making a comeback but in a more modern guise.

I think the idea clicked for me while I was checking out my kitchen cupboards for a snack and spotted my stash of drinking straws.

Yes, I save drinking straws. Whenever I or anyone I'm with buys a cool drink or milkshake when we're out and about, I grab the straws because I know that MILLIONS get tossed out EACH DAY and end up in our landfill. 

I can't understand why folks just don't bring them home to reuse. I wash out mine thoroughly and then keep them (fittingly enough) in a drinking glass to reuse or until an upcycling idea pops up.

Now that I've got several dozen, I thought, why not put them to work? Himmeli mobiles fit the bill perfectly.

To get started with your own himmeli, click here.

DIY Mother's Day - Last Minute Ideas

Posted on May 6, 2016 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The little guy (who lives in Edinburgh and viewed my last post) informed me that I need to add a few more Mom's Day ideas, and they have to be super fast and super easy. Okay, last minute ideas - here goes:

Make a Note of This

If your Mom likes to make lists (and what mother doesn't), you can make these easy, peasy note pads from scrap paper and cardboard. We made these at one of my workshops and everyone had a different use for theirs. Made entirely of recycled materials, we even used dried up pens and office clips to hold the notepads together. And, best of all, refillable!


For some reason, I have a horde of tea infusers. Some I find at charity shops, others are gifts. But they do have their uses besides infusing tea. This may be one way for Mom to keep her gift wrapping twine tidy (also a good idea for holding embroidery thread). Add a couple in a handmade box (see yesterday's post) and you're done.

Decoupage This

Our lady Martha has this neat idea for taking bottles and decoupaging them with a pretty floral print (which she provides) turning ho-hum old bottles into lovely flower vases for Mom. Heck, you won't even need to buy flowers. Don't bother running out for new paint - check out what you've got squirreled away in the garage or basement. No paint there? Ask friends or neighbours.

Click here to find out how to make.

Mom's a Star

and you'll can let her know that's how you feel with these lovely star toppers from A Subtle Revelry. Bake or buy a nice cake (preferably one Mom likes - not you!) and top it with these pretty paper stars. Get the kids to help you make them.

All done now?

DIY Mother's Day (Workshop Edition)

Posted on May 6, 2016 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

If you're still looking for inexpensive, quick and easy DIY projects for Mom or Gran, there's plenty on the web to choose from but in this post I will highlight some ideas made by participants of my past and recent workshops. All are easy-peasy, quick, and very low cost. We used what we needed from my recycling bin and went to town.

Flower Pot Cards

Made from gardening catalogues, cereal (or other) cardboard boxes, brown paper grocery bags, and saved ribbon, these flower pot cards take only minutes, so most of the participants made several. No fancy-smancy equipment needed. Participants simply cut out flowers they liked from the gardening catalogues, glued these on cereal box cardboard, and then trimmed these. The flowers can be pulled out of the pot to reveal a message to the recipient. Oh, and we also made envelopes to match from the grocery bags. 

Paperbead Bracelet

Perfect gift form Mom and so easy. All you need are a pile of old magazines, glue, a wooden skewer, ruler, pencil, and scissors. Participants added some beads from broken necklaces and bracelets I pick up at charity shops. The 12-year old participant who made this bracelet added a found metal Valentine's heart. His Mom is sure to love it.

Twig and Scrap Yarn Brooches

Made from small twigs and whatever wool yarn and embroidery thread on hand, these were very popular and so fast to make. Everyone left wearing at least one of their creations. For this brooch you will need to have fasteners on hand. These can be purchased at any Dollar Store for about $1.25 for 10.

Gift Boxes from Magazine Covers

A few of the magazines we worked with had nice stiff front covers with interesting images, so, of course, I suggested making gift boxes out of these. After all, you'll need a nice one for Mom's gift. You can also cut long, thin strips of magazine pages to use as fillers for the boxes instead of tissue paper. 

Tag, You're It!

After boxes are made, you'll need a tag or two. So why not make a few like these using images you like from those old magazines. Participants cut out and glued images they liked onto used cereal box cardboard, then trimmed these into nice label tags, adding a bit of string.

Et voilà, all done and ready for Mom.

DIY Mother's Day

Posted on April 26, 2016 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

With Mother's Day just a few weeks away, why not make a few things that she would adore (after all, you made them!). Here are a few ideas that I have made for my own Mom (and my daughter who is a Mom, too!).

Let's Wrap Again!

Instead of a humdrum box of chocolates, surprise your Mom with this sweet treat, featuring her favourite photos wrapped around chocolate bars. Easy to do. Remove the wrapping from her favourite bars and measure each one. Next choose your photographs, scan and crop so that these are the same size as the chocolate bar wrapping. Wrap a photo around each bar, and tape or glue at the back of the bar. Be sure to make extra - Mom will want to share!

Top That!

Mom will smile for days when you present her with this cute cupcake (homemade or store-bought) with its vintage topper. To make the topper, copy images from vintage sewing patterns or use images from magazines or your family photographs. Scan the images and then print on card-weight paper (or do as I do, copy image on recycled paper and glue to cardboard). Next, cut out the image, then glue or tape toothpicks on the back of each topper. Insert in a cupcake and serve. Yummy!

Bottle Up

Forget humdrum (and expensive) roses. Instead, head for your local grocery store and pick out a few flowers that you know Mom is fond of. When you get home, raid the recycle bin for suitable bottles, plastic or glass. Wash these thoroughly and dry. Add a bit of water to each bottle 'vase' and plunk in a flower. Group these 'vases' on a pretty plate and finish off with a pretty ribbon tied in a bow. The cost will be minimal but the impact will last for days.

Daffed about You!

Another super easy but low-cost idea for Mom. Again, head for your local grocery store and check out the overgrown daffodils and tulips stuck in the back of the flower department section. The flowers and plants here usually cost very little. Buy one with the best looking blossoms and, at home, remove from the container and wash off the soil from the bulb and roots. Write 'Mom' or her name on a paper label and tie to the flower. Put this on a pretty plate at her breakfast (or dinner place setting and you're done!

Note: When the flower has dried up, cut the stem down and place the bulb in a cool, dark place (such as your cellar) over winter. You can replant the bulbs in your garden in the fall to bloom again next spring.

All these ideas are easy-peasy, low-cost, fast, but look like a million bucks (at least to Mom).