Upcycling with Marie Claire Idées Magazine

Posted on March 28, 2016 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my all time favourite magazines is Marie Claire Idées. Every month it comes with tons of creative ideas and quite a few of these ideas feature upcycling slash recycling projects. It's a French publication but most projects are simple enough for you to figure out.

So, it should be no surprise that, while organizing my studio for my first spring workshop (almost sold out!!), when I came across a copy of Marie Claire Idées. (No. 98 - Sept/Oct issue), I spotted some low-cost and easy upcycling ideas for organizing a child's bedroom. 

Upcycling Clementine Orange Boxes

If you have a few wooden Clementine orange boxes, your kids (with your help) can transform them into attractive toy storage boxes. Let their imaginations run wild (and keep little hands busy) by providing them some brushes, glue, paint, gift wrap or leftover wallpaper, etc. and let them go to it. Scrabble tiles could be glued on to personalize each box. Hmmm - with all the clementine boxes I've got, I could use this idea to organize my craft supplies. Original post here

Alphabet Cardboard Boxes

Pretty much every kid loves playing with cardboard boxes, and parents like them too because they can occupy a little one for hours and cost nothing. They're stackable and so take up little room. In this Marie Claire project you can personalize the cardboard boxes by cutting out the first initial of your child's name (or first the letter of what is to be stored inside) into one of the sides of the box. Then the whole thing can then be decorated in leftover gift wrap or wallpaper and a little paint. Original post here

Magnetic Wall Toy Storage

If your little one is constantly losing his/her little bitty toys such as mini cars, Playmobile figures, or dollhouse accessories, here's a perfect solution. In Marie Claire's version, this system uses a wooden picture frame and a oilcloth remnant glued to cardboard. Then you need some of those the magnetic kitchen knife strips and some round metal spice containers with clear lids.

My version: If you don't want to buy the magnetic knife strips (which can be expensive and/or the spice containers), just purchase a roll of magnetic tape at the hardware store and glue a small piece at the bottom of each toy, Glue the frame to an old non-aluminum baking sheet and you're in business. You can find old baking sheets at charity shops - bring along a piece of magnet tape to test out the magnetic attraction of these.

Now if you can just convince the kids to use this storage system.

Actually this idea would also be good in the craft room, too, to hold all those itty bitty bits we keep losing. Original post here. 

Under the Bed Toy Train Storage System

This is my favourite project. Our little guy has an identical toy train set and right now it's stored in a vintage suitcase. Every time he wants to play with it, his mom or I have to reassemble the track and believe me, it isn't as easy as it looks! This under the bed storage system solves the problem and would allow the little guy to play with his train set whenever he wants to without waiting for one of us to assemble it. We have some large pieces of cardboard saved from Ikea bookshelving that we can recycle to make this storage system and then use a water-based paint to pretty it up.

Original post here.

A Note of Caution

Please ensure that a parent or other responsible adult is always present when kids are involved in any of these projects.


Easter Recycling Projects

Posted on March 21, 2016 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Easter is almost here so I'm throwing out some DIY projects that caught my eye this week. There are literally thousands of ideas online so if none of these tickle your fancy, head out to the Internet and you won't be disappointed - but you just may be waylaid because of the sheer volume!

Stuffed Paper Bag Rabbits

Joanka at Joanka-Z describes herself as a good craftsman who wants to change the world using her hands and a sewing machine. And in this project she certainly succeeds. She shows us how to make a bunny from a paper bag! Now you have a way of upcycling all those grocery bags you’ve been hoarding! There’s even a template for you to copy.

Instructions are in Polish and you will need a sewing machine but otherwise, an easy, peasy project. Click here to make your own. 

Egg Carton Wreath

Rebecca over at her beautiful blog, Sinnern Rausch, loves anything handmade and finding treasures at flea markets. Her egg carton wreath is as elegant as anything you'll find at expensive floral or decorating shops. And is fairly easy to make. You'll need a few egg cartons but if you are like me, you're sure to have an assortment in your recycling bin. 

This blog is in German but the instructions are easy to follow from the excellent photos. Click here to make your own.

Recycled Eggshell Mobile

This mobile idea is a wonderful way to use up those eggs we crack in the morning when making breakfast. Now you can put them to use to amuse the kids and maybe decorate above your Easter table. Angie has loads of great ideas on her blog, Little Inspiration.

It's a brilliant idea and I plan to copy it with my own interpretation - brown eggshells. Her instructions for this mobile are easy to follow - now I just have to find a branch and some plastic toys. To find out how you can recreate this mobile, click here.

Buona Pasqua!

DIY Upcycled Halloween Crafts

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I do upon occasion rustle up enough energy to dive into my recycling bin and make something. I often repeat what I've done before as I can't see any reason to change what works and - for Halloween - what spooks! Anyway, here are a few current ones using materials from my bin.

Treatbox Coffins

I found the templates (hey, I never said I wouldn't borrow ideas) for these treat boxes over at our lady Martha's and used leftover scrap and wrapping paper to make them. For strength, I cut cardboard from cereal boxes to the same size as the templates and glued the paper and cardboard together. I still make these boxes and plan to give them away (filled with treats, of course). Here's Martha's template.

Treat Box Eggshells

No paper or cardboard handy? No problem - use eggshells for your treat box. This is an idea I saw in Matthew Mead's book 'Matthew Mead Halloween Tricks and Treats' that I found at my local library. He used hardboiled eggs but I substituted empty eggshells and filled each one with small Halloween treats.

If you want to make your own eggshell treat boxes, first use our lady Martha's method to blow out the contents of your eggs (you can freeze the contents for later use in cooking and baking). In order to get the goodies inside the clean and dry eggshells, you will need to make one hole larger by carefully using a pair of nail scissors. When the eggshell is ready, fill it with your kids' favourite treats. Finally, cover the hole with a witch's hat and then add the mysterious mask. Use a bit of double-sided tape to keep both on the eggshell.

By the way, I made my own hats and masks freehand but if you need a little help, here's a template for the hat and another one for the miniature mask.

Fairy Lights

I spotted these Japanese lantern (also called Chinese lantern) plants at the Byward Market and bought a few thinking they'd look attractive in a vase. Once I got them home, I came up with the idea of using these with a string of fairy (or Christmas) lights to make an attractive garland.

To make: I cut each of the bright orange pods from the stems (leaving a bit of the stem on for looks) and made a small slit at the top pod with a sharp knife. Then I popped a string light bulb into each one. There's a tough little berry inside the pod and you have to be careful to avoid trying to cut through it - it's very hard! To finish off, I piled the completed garland on top of a cake stand and used it as a Halloween decoration on my hall table. After Halloween, I'll be using it as a garland on my dining table at Thanksgiving. 

I know that you'll think this is not really a recycling project, but I did make the cake stand using a scratched-up glass plate and an unused glass candlestick. I glued the plate to the top of the candlestick and painted the whole thing black using leftover paint I got from a neighbour.

Feather Boa Wreath

This orange and black feather boa has been around for awhile now and I've used it in the past as a garland draped over my fireplace mantel and even as part of a costume. Now I'm repurposing it as a wreath. Not an original idea, I know but quick and easy to make. You can buy these feather boas in either black or like the one above at almost any charity shop at this time of year for very little.

To make the wreath, all you need is a wire coat hanger and a feather boa - I used two for a fluffier look. Stretch the wire hanger into a circle (doesn't have to be perfect). I don't use glue to hold the boa in place as I may need it for other purposes later. There's usually a little string loop at each end of the boa. Slip one loop over the handle of your stretched wire hanger and then simply twist the feather boa around the hanger. When you're done twisting the boa around the hanger, slip the second loop over the hanger handle. This will hold the boa in place. To hide the handle, I bent it back and used this to hang up the wreath. This wreath can be left up for Thanksgiving.

If you are looking for more Halloween inspiration, click on Halloween under Categories.

Recycling Plastic Bottle Caps

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Plastic bottle caps- what can you do with them?


Well, I for one, use them as the tires for the milk/juice carton trucks and little toy car racers that I make for the little guy. However, today, I stumbled across an artist who also uses plastic bottle caps but raises them to a whole new level.

Meet Dan de D. Munch, a French Parisian artist, who considers bottle caps a serious art medium and, to prove it, he has created a whole plethora of 'toys' just by using these ho-hum caps who until recently were not recycable!

The caterpillar is just one of his many, many ideas. It begs the question - why buy your kids toys when you can create them at home using this totally recyclable material? To view his way with plastic bottle caps, copy and paste the following into your search engine box:


For some reason, I can't make it linkable.

I'm off to find some more plastic bottle caps!

March Break - Inspiring Recycling Projects

Posted on March 11, 2015 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

March Break is next week here in Ottawa and I've put together links to a few of my favourite kids' projects which will appeal to both kids and parents (I hope). All of the sites shown here have tons of projects and enough ideas to keep you and the kids busy all week long and are worthwhile exploring. I haven't noted any age categories although some are easier to make than others. I think kids any age would enjoy these (even me!!). 

Most call for stuff that you no doubt already have around the house: i.e., newspapers, milk cartons,  popsicle sticks, cardboard, etc.

For the Architect

Source: Paper Houses

For the Gardener

Source: Garden Plot

For the Musician

Source: Harmonica

Source: Drum

For the Mad Scientist

Source: Science Fun 

Source: Balloon Fun

For the Rocket Scientist

Source: Zoom, zoom 

NOTE: Both the above sites have projects that both girls and boys can enjoy. 

For the Structural Engineer

Source: Instructions for this bridge can be found at the following link:

For the Sailor

Source: Spanish Galleon

Glue Paint Idea

Posted on March 10, 2015 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The other day my friend Sean came round and showed me how to make a glue paint using just two ingredients that we all have: food colouring and craft glue. It's fun way to experiment to get different colour effects just by adding different amounts of food colouring to glue to create art with a 3D effect. It's also a good way to use up food colouring if you only have a drop or two left as it takes very little colouring to create shiny paint colours.

To make the glue, all you need to do is squirt a little blob of glue on plastic sheet (the plastic is to protect your table or work area from a food colouring stain which is permanent - we used a used plastic bag - cleaned out, of course!) and then add a drop or two of food colouring. Mix together using a tooth pick. Use a separate toothpick for each colour. 

Sean 'painted' the following image on parchment paper but you can use whatever paper you have and please note that it takes a few minutes to dry.

We made our paint in small batches. For more information how to make glue paint and use it, go here.