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Sunday, March 05, 2017

Personalised homemade cards

The end of a year is always a good time to harvest interesting designs from old calendars. The calendars can't be used again and will obviously end up in the trash, so before they go, quickly flip through them to see if there are any designs worth cutting out and saving for projects such as personalising homemade cards, or decorating containers. Ideally, the paper should not be too thick as that would make it difficult to stick on, but otherwise just about any type of paper would do.

Before starting on the project, it's a good idea to go through your stock of paper cutouts to choose a few that seem suitable. From these, create a rough layout on the card itself using the cutouts, before using any kind of adhesive. This is so you can rearrange the pieces if you like, before they are stuck on.

Latest homemade card project, below. The card itself is a blank card bought at at a stationery shop, which comes with its own plain envelope. I used paper cutouts to create a personalised design on the front.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Recycling plastic containers into planters

So I've been about the idea of recycling plastic containers into planters to hold small plants for some time now. I was inspired by a large number of youtube videos that show beautiful plants thriving in glass jars and containers, and I really wanted to try it out for myself.

However, I soon hit a snag. I was informed by the gardening experts that glass jars do not make great planters because there is no drainage, and unless the plants are chosen carefully and watered very expertly, they are likely to suffer from root rot and die.I was rather annoyed to hear this as I'd had visions of creating a whole desktop of gorgeous little plants in glass jars :-)

True to my nature I did not give up and did more research. I finally hit on the idea of using cut-upsoft plastic water bottles and salad containers as planters, as they are soft enough to poke holes in with a penknife, knife or large scissors - thus providing the much-needed drainage. As it happened, other (harder) plastic containers, or the lids of the containers, could be used underneath the actual planter to catch excess water. These could then be periodically emptied and cleaned.

So far, so good... after a few mishaps, these seem to be growing relatively happily on my desk at the office ! :-)

Planters made out of cut-up plastic water bottles

Planter made out of ready-to-eat salad packaging

Using recycled items as storage containers

Recycled/re-purposed items aren't just great materials for craft projects - they also make great storage containers too! :-)

I should clarify here that I'm really not an advocate of the "Don't throw anything away" mantra as that sort of thing leads to disorganisation, untidiness and clutter in the long run. Quite the opposite in fact, as I regularly go through cupboards, wardrobes and drawers and either discard or donate anything that is no longer being used. I definitely do subscribe to the Marie Kondo school of thought  on that one! :-)

But I do believe that some items can be recycled and repurposed into crafts and storage containers. As long as the item is sturdy, can be properly cleaned and dried and holds its shape well, you can definitely find a use for it.

Here, I used a variety of small empty cardboard boxes in which a couple of pairs of earrings came in, an old spectacle case, a plastic container I got in a bon-bon once, and various plastic name card boxes, to organise the stuff in my office desk drawer. The good thing about using small containers inside of drawers is that they can be packed tight enough to avoid the contents of the drawer sliding around messily every time the drawer is opened and shut.

The tissue pack holder was a free gift with another item I purchased, so while it's not strictly speaking a recycled or re-purposed item, it wasn't bought and I found a use for it instead of throwing it away :-)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Using leftover fabric to wrap gifts

A while ago we ordered new curtains for our windows. We selected a very pretty fabric, translucent off-white with gold markings. As it happened, there was a fair bit of leftover material after we'd gotten the curtains tailored. I asked for the extra pieces back from the tailor, folded it and stored in a large book that I keep in which to store fabric scraps.

I had a gift to wrap over the weekend, and so pulled out my fabric book to find a suitable piece to use as a wrapper. As soon as I saw the extra curtain pieces, I decided on that as the off-white and gold finish complemented the box perfectly.

I cut the fabric to size, wrapped the box by tying the edges into knots and tucking in excess fabric using pins (the kind used in needlework), and added some light-brown ribbon.

This was the result :-)

Questions, comments or ideas to share? Email me at Also, follow me on Instagram @sjdacrafts. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Upcycled plastic water bottle tea light holder

2017 has dawned bright and fresh ...and brought with it new ideas and inspirations :-)

My first project for the year is an upcycled plastic water bottle tea light holder. This is a great way to repurpose something that would otherwise end up in a landfill, if not properly recycled.

First, you'll need a large plastic water bottle. Using a pen knife, slice around the bottle so that the bottom 1/4 section comes off.

Fill up the bottom section with a variety of stuff - art sand, pebbles, beads, marbles, other craft materials... and place a tea light on the top.

In this example, I used black-tinted art sand for the base, a layer of white rock sale, several layers of small and large multicoloured pebbles, a couple of stalks of cloves to emit a nice aroma when the candle is lit, and, of course, a tea light.

Voila! A perfectly usable tea light holder for your patio table or garden area. :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Recycled Christmas Containers for the Office

Ho! Ho! Ho! It's the most wonderful time of the year again... yes, Christmas is upon us in all its commercialised glory, with retail outlets displaying their finest wares, carols blasting at top volume, everyone rushing to do their christmas shopping in order to get ready for the holidays.

As always, I try to think about ways to make Christmas gifts using recycled or repurposed items. This year, for my colleagues, I decided to use recycled jars and fill them with chocolates and treats as gifts.

First, I went through my craft supplies to see how best I could create a design for the jars that would use up all my existing materials. I found I had lots of red glass paint, gold coloured pieces of cardboard, and white ribbon. After a few sketches, I finally settled on the design below.

Each jar was thoroughly washed and soaked overnight in soapy water to remove the labels. The jars were then dried for several days. Next, I used a piece of kitchen sponge to sponge the red paint over the jars. They were then allowed to dry. I cut out star shapes from the gold cardboard and used double sided tape to stick them onto the jar. Each project was finished off with a white ribbon, then filled with chocolates.

My colleagues loved them! :-)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Upcycling paper bags - with a Christmas theme #2

The other day something I bought was packed in a nice sturdy dark green paper bag... so I immediately ear-marked it for a Christmas upcycling project!:-) When decorating paper bags, you can really make use of the existing colour scheme of the bag - if the bag is already the right colour, you don't need to use as many embellishments and decorations.

This green bag was just perfect for Christmas, so after selecting a few motifs from my box of recycled Christmas card cutouts, I had the logos and store names covered in no time and - voila! - a reusable gift bag to put (preferably recycled!) Christmas gifts in :-)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Upcycling paper bags

So, someone gave me a packet of caramel sweets - you know, caramel on the outside, a filling of some sort on the inside. Each piece came wrapped in a pretty square of coloured paper which I noticed, had a nice crinkled texture. It seemed like a pity to throw them away, so I re-deployed them towards a recycled art project! :-)

They turned out to be just what I needed to decorate a large and sturdy paper bag which could definitely be re-used as a gift bag, but for the hotel logo running across it. The coloured caramel wrappers turned out to be the perfect camouflage! :)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Christmas Project no.2 - Upcycling a Tissue Box

Tissue boxes have got to be among the most ubiquitous of household objects. There's usually 1 in the kitchen, the bathrooms and the bedrooms for starters. Some people even have them in their cars! 

The tissues get used up and boxes basically get thrown away. So I thought of using re-purposing one of them as a gift box or container for a gift. 

The one below is an empty Kleenex tissue box. You could use any tissue box though.

The decorations are leftover bits of wrapping paper from Christmases past and the tops have been reinforced with red fabric tape which can be bought from any art supply or hardware store. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Upcycling paper bags - with a Christmas theme

You know the routine -buy something, get a free paper carry bag. Some of these bags are pretty strong and durable, and it's a pity to throw them away especially since you know you will be going right back out there to BUY another paper bag, the next time you need to give a gift.

Leading up to Christmas, I like to collect red-themed paper bags and re-purpose them into gift bags. My colleagues at work know about my passion for recycled craft, so I was quite thrilled when my colleague gave me a really nice large red paper bag which had come with a cake she ordered from a hotel.

So the bag was perfect, being already red in colour, except for the large logos and slogans printed on the front and back as well as on both sides. Those needed to be covered, so out came my box of Christmas-themed cutouts and bits and pieces.

I selected a couple of cutouts from leftover wrapping paper and old christmas cards, covered the logos and slogans with mod podge, and stuck on the cutouts. For the most part, mod podge worked well as an adhesive, with the only drawback being the think layer of film that's visible over the designs. It's not noticeable from afar though.

And Voila! a perfectly nice Christmas gift bag is ready to go under the Christmas tree :-)

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Christmas Project No. 1 for 2016

Today, I officially started my Christmas projects. A little early?? You might say. Well not really, given that this is strictly a weekend hobby J.

Project no. 1 for the season, kicks off with a couple of small glass containers which used to hold a health tonic. The empty bottles looked so cute lined up in a row, so I hit upon the idea of turning them into my next project.

First, I washed the bottles, removed the labels and dried them. Next, I applied red glass paint with a sponge, using a dabbing motion to create a speckled sort of effect.

I then looked at my box of leftover Christmas wrapping, ribbons and other stuff I’d saved from last Christmas, and used craft scissors and a craft punch to create the shapes which were then glued on with mod podge.

The jars were finished off with red pipe cleaners and white ribbon :-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Personalising blank cards using photographs

So if you're anything like me, you probably have lots and lots of photographs. And, again, if you're anything like me, you'll have digital copies of these photographs (in addition to the originals which should have been attractively arranged in albums or scrapbooks after you printed them out :-).

Back to the digital photos...why not use them to bring joy to others, instead of leaving them sitting around on your hard drive or SD card, mostly forgotten?

OK so first, identify a couple of photographs which you'd like to share. They could be photos of kids, family members, friends or just blank scenic shots. They could be current or old. The beauty of a digital photo is it can be printed as many times as you like, so you're not actually "destroying" a precious old original photograph.

Get these photos printed or developed. The maximum size should be 4R, unless you have a really huge blank card to personalise, in which case you could go for a bigger size.

Next, grab some art paper, or if you already have a pack of blank notecards, you could use these.

Basically you'll be sticking the photograph onto the card. For a scalloped effect, I cut around the photo with craft scissors, but you can just stick the photo straight on, or embellish the frame with stickers or other materials if you like.    

To stick it on, I used cellophane tape on the back and across the whole card. If you had a laminator, you could probably do a more professional job of it - but for a less professional finish, cellophane tape or even clingwrap could be used.

On the inside of the card, you can write your message, and maybe include a note describing the photograph.

For this project, I used a photograph taken from a beach at dawn, several years ago.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Repurposing a Shoe Box into a Gift Box

Every time you buy a pair of shoes, you get a box. Most of the time, it’s a pretty well-made and hardy box.

The trouble is, once you start using the shoes, the boxes tend to either pile up in your shoe cupboard or, end up in the trash. Some people (myself include) might actually take the time to store their shoes back in the right boxes, but such folk are few and far between J. It’s easier to just leave the shoes out of the box after use.

So, what to do with all those boxes?  I thought about it for a while and hit on the idea of turning them into gift boxes.

Problem no. 1 was, what to do with all those ugly labels and logos all over the box. They needed to be covered somehow…not to worry, my trusty box of scrap paper and ribbon yielded the perfect solution.
Just cover the logos, labels and other markings with scrap paper, ribbon or anything else you’ve got on hand, to create a rather interesting and personalised gift box. 

I used cellophane tape strips over the whole project, to keep the papers from coming unstuck. Tried mod podge but it left a kind of whitish film around the design, so I ended up wiping it off and going with the cellophane tape. 

Jar and Tea Light Candle

Tried something a little different this time – instead of decorating an old jam jar, I just cleaned off the labels very carefully so as to leave no trace of the label, and dried the jar with a cloth. Then, I filled the ¾ quarters full of coarse salt, added a layer of cloves, and put the tea light on the top. The project was finished off with a bit of left over ribbon. I was quite happy with how it turned out – the whole thing took about 10 minutes! J

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Upcycling confectionary tins

There’s nothing like receiving chocolates, biscuits or cake in an actual tin… it just seems like such a treat doesn’t it! Yumm....a tin of full sweetness to be savoured, one bite at at time… but alas, all good things come to an end and sooner or later, you’ll be left with an empty tin.

Whatever you do, do NOT  throw that tin away! You could repurpose it into a gorgeous storage container or gift container. :-)

First, wash the tin out thoroughly and allow to dry fully.

Then, decide on the concept for your project. Will you use paint? Or paper? Or scrap fabric?

For the projects below (1 biscuit tin and 2 cake tins), I have used only scrap paper from my stock, and also a paper cutout which I made from a design I found in an old calendar.

I used folded cellophane tape stick the paper on to the tin, and then went over the whole design with strips of cellophane tape. One reason I use cellophane tape is that when you’re tired of the design in a couple of years, you can rip the cellophane tape right out, remove the designs, and start again with a fresh design! :-)

Upcycling paper bags

Whenever we buy stuff, we  usually get a free paper bag from the vendor. More often than not, these bags aren’t really re-used as they have the store logo on them, so after hanging on the back of a door for a while or cluttering up our cupboards, they end up getting tossed in the trash.

Meanwhile, whenever we need a paper gift bag to put gifts in, we go out and buy (yet another) paper bag.
To a recycled craft enthusiast like myself, that just seems like a project waiting to happen. So I settled on the idea of personalising paper bags from stores, and turning them into gift bags – thereby eliminating the need to throw all those paper bags away, and go out and get more paper bags when I needed them.

Decorating paper bags with scrap paper is really easy and, is a great way to use up paper, leftover wrapping paper  or old cards from your stock of scrap paper that are too large in size to fit onto a smaller project.

As an adhesive, I tend to use glue to stick the paper onto the bag. I then cover the whole design with cellophane tape to make sure it doesn’t peel off. Once done, try not to fold the bag, as the design might end up coming unstuck.   

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Glass painted Jars

Latest jar craft projects below...first jar sponged over with grey glass paint (I just use a small piece cut out from a normal kitchen sponge, though there are fancier "sponge-brushes" on the market). I then filled it with glass beads from a craft shop and added a tea light on the top of it. This just seemed like a better idea than filling the jar with candle wax and turning it into a candle, as eventually, the candle will burn so far down that it would be impossible to light it. A tea light on the other hand is easily replaceable.

The other two jars have been painted with glass paint and outlined using a black sharpie.

Comments or questions, email me at Follow me on Instagram @sjdacrafts.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Jar Crafts & Paper Crafts

Today's paper craft project had a green theme, while I decided on brown for the jar.

Both projects were created using scraps of paper, cardboard cut-outs and bits of leftover wrapping. For the balloon-shaped pieces on the jar, I used a craft puncher to punch them out of a torn (and therefore unusable) paper bag.

As with all my projects, none of the materials were bought from a craft shop. It's all stuff that would normally have been thrown away. :-)

Comments or questions, email me at Follow me on Instagram @sjdacrafts.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Jar Crafts

This time, I tried adding an extra layer of ribbon around the paper used in this project to create additional texture. It worked, more or less! :-)

For this project, I used an old jam jar, washed, dried and with the label removed. (As always, an easy way to remove labels is to soak the jar overnight in soapy water - the label will peel right off).

For the decoration, I selected some brown-themed paper and ribbon from my craft supplies. Using a craft scissors, the edges were trimmed to create a scalloped finish.

Next step, apply mod podge evenly over the jar, and stick the papers on in layers. I then added the ribbon around the middle in layers.

Allow the project to dry for a few days, before sticking your pens and pencils in :-)

Tips for recreating this project - I notice that mod podge works best with thin paper, thick paper doesn't sit as well around the jar and you end up needing many coats of mod podge.

Comments or questions, email me at Follow me on Instagram @sjdacrafts.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Jar crafts - paper cutouts & fabric scraps

Tried out a new style of decorating glass jars recently, using mod podge as an adhesive and fixer. After having watched a lot of youtube videos  in which everyone was using it, it seemed like a fuss-free medium to experiment with. So I bought a tub of it from a craft store and started experimenting.

First, the jars. I had to wash the jars, remove the labels (an ovenight soak in soapy water will do the trick) and dry the jars thoroughly.

Next step, was to look through my folder of paper cutouts from old cards, brochures and other pre-loved paper items, and select the ones I wanted for these projects. I also happened to have some fabric scraps which I decided to use as well.

I discovered that using mod podge is super-easy,  just use a small piece of sponge to liberally coat the jar with a layer of it. Then, use a tweezer (or your fingers) to pick up and place the paper cutout or fabric scrap, on the area.  I usually use an old ice cream stick to smooth out any ridges or bumps.

Next, apply another coat of mod podge.

Leave to dry for a couple of days. If you want, you could add a layer of varnish, and leave to dry for another few days.

I added glass beads and a tea light to one of them to make a sort of candle – which worked rather well.
The second project involved paper cutouts, arranged on an existing card to create a unique and personalised one.  Again, you can cover the surface of the card with mod podge, and stick on the cutouts.

Best to choose a card that is stiff and thick, as a thin card might get damp when the mod podge is applied to it.

Leave to dry for a couple of days, and make sure none of the cutouts are peeling off. If they are, add another layer of mod podge and dry again.

Am really pleased with how easy it is to work with mod podge and will definitely consider using it again on future projects !:-)

Comments or questions, email me at Follow me on Instagram @sjdacrafts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jar crafts - glass paint and sharpies

Turns out that recycled jars make excellent vases... for these 2 projects, I used old Nescafe jars (washed, dried and with the labels removed), sponged them over with glass paint and added some designs using contrasting coloured glass paint. The sihouettes were outlined with black sharpies.

The plants I selected are easy to take care and can actually survive only in water. Both plants have been in these jars for several months now - they seem to manage quite well without earth :-) To keep them perky, I add a tiny amount of coffee powder into the water.

Comments or questions, email me at Follow me on Instagram @sjdacrafts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas project 2015

It's that festive time of year again when craftsters get creative! :-)

This year's upcycling project for office gifts for my colleagues involved small round plastic containers - the kind that you tend to accumulate when you shop for nuts, dried fruits or other condiments.

Instead of throwing them away to languish in a landfill for eternity, I decided to repurpose them into colourful containers in which to put chocolates. All decorations were made out of leftovers from last year's christmas wrappers and some red crepe paper. Craft punchers and stencils were used to shape the embellishments such as stars and christmas trees.