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Using What You Have

This article was originally published on April 2, 2020 for Might Could Studiomates, and has been edited to remove community-specific content.

Mottainai Grandma, Using Colored Pencil Stubs to Make a Jumbo Rainbow Pencil

There's a famous children's book in Japan called "Mottainai Baasan" or "No-Waste Grandma". Children love the story because this grandma can turn any trash into treasure! When I first read the book, it felt like I was revisiting a memory with my own grandmother as a child. My grandmother was a person who could make or fix anything, even going so far as to crocheting up holes in her stockings with little tiny needles! In the time in history that we're living in now, getting your hands on new materials can prove more difficult than usual. However, I think this is a perfect time to think like the "No-Waste Grandma" and look around your house for things to upcycle, recycle, or evolve into brand new art!

Here's five projects that might inspire you to take another look in your recycle bin and old arts-and-crafts box.

1. Potato Stamps

Do you have any leftover potatoes? You can cut into them and make custom stamps to decorate with.

Image from The Best Ideas for

2. Food Scrap Textile Dyeing

There are a lot of interesting natural colors you can make with vegetable scraps. I haven't tried some of these yet, but it seems like an easy way to upcycle clothing or textiles you have around the house. You can also tye-dye or dye using Japanese oshibori methods. This could also work great for Easter Egg dyeing!

3. Collages

If you have paper magazines or newspapers lying about, you can make a fun magazine clippings collage! I enjoyed making a collage with a fashion catalog I got in the mail. This might also be fun to extend to junk mail if you cut out the words. Also, how about a Bottle Cap Flower collage?

4. Art Supplies Organization

Maybe you've gathered a lot of supplies, but you can't see clearly what you already have at your disposal. Luckily, you can make customizable caddies and holders for your art supplies out of almost anything! Some interesting ideas I've found include reusing toilet paper tubes and Styrofoam food trays.

🙋 Got an answer, recommendation, or question about using what you have?

This is only tipping the iceberg since there are so many ways to use things you have around the house! Have you tried any of these projects? I'd love to hear from you about recycled art projects that you have tried and or recommend.


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