In Doc’s family recycling was all the rage well before Earth Day came into being. It was this ingrained recycling prowess that made teaching Vacation Bible School at the Ashland Baptist Church such a breeze. As the teacher I had to come up with an entire week’s worth of fun activities and crafts, for my students, that taught the values found in the Bible. Not an easy task for most when you consider the budget, or lack thereof! Fortunately, our community is full of people with like minds. It was those like minds that filled my classroom’s storage closet full of trash, year after year. Filling a classroom storage closet full of trash may sound a bit rude to say the least but you have to understand Doc’s view on the whole thing. I loved it!! The more trash the merrier!! Every spring I dove in pulling bits and pieces out of the unorganized pile until I had some ideas rattling about in my head. I would then take a timer and set about creating what was in my mind. If it fell into the time guidelines set forth by Pastor Palmer and it came out great I would add it to my curriculum for the week and then move onto to the next pile of trash. It is those trashy ideas that I would like to share with you today. I’ve included 3 such recycling crafts in 3 age categories for you to enjoy this Earth Day or any day for that matter.
1. A green (or any color) caterpillar for young Children up to age 6 or so
What you will need:
Paint of your color choice
Google eyes from the craft store
An old egg box that is clean
If your child is extremely young you will want to do the first step yourself and then leave the remaining steps for them. That first step would be to prepare the egg box. First, cut the tab off of the front of the egg box where it attaches to the bottom portion of the box. Next, cut the lid from the box and use, along with the tab, to start your fire in the morning. If the lid is solid you can even have the kids use it for a paint cup before burning it. Now you have just the bottom portion of the egg carton left. Cut this right down the middle to form two caterpillars for your little artists. With the bottom of the bottom of the egg carton facing up, have the children paint their caterpillars as they see fit. Once dry add two google eyes to one end or the other. If you wish you could also use a scrap of yarn to create a smiley face. Use your imagination. Add those stickers you get free in the mail with magazine subscriptions or decoupage on actual magazine clippings. The skies the limit.
2. A pen can for their desk or for a gift for mom or dad. Great for ages 6 and up to tweens.
What you will need:
A tin can of cup size that has been opened with a smooth edge can opener and washed
Magazine cutouts of all sorts
Jewels from broken costume jewelry
A glue gun to attach the jewels
Lightly sand each can to ensure all burrs are removed and to ensure that the surface is rough enough to accept the glue. Now comes the fun part. Place all supplies onto a table and let the kids have at it. They can glue bits of magazine articles onto their can in a mosaic effect, they can paint the can and add one magazine picture or they can paint and add jewels………… Really, any combination will work as long as you complete the last step. That would be to coat the entire piece in at least two coats of decoupage glue. Just be sure that any children painting their cans have waited for the can to completely dry before slathering on the decoupage glue. Decoupage glue goes on just like paint, with a soft bristle brush. It will give the project a very milky look at first but, this will dry to a clear glossy finish.
3. A really crazy quilt for tweens to those aged 101
What you will need:
Old clothes, bed sheets, fabric remnants, curtains etc. in similar or complimenting colors and similar weights.
A large sewing needle
A spool or more of heavy gauge sewing thread
An old sleeping bag that has been unzipped and spread out. Holes and tears are fine but it must be clean.
An old flat sheet the size of the spread out sleeping bag and a color that is similar to or compliments your fabrics. Must be clean and free of holes, rips and tears.
Several extra large buttons
If you prefer to sew on a sewing machine you will need one of those as well.
This is a complicated project that shouldn’t be taken on by the faint of heart. Knowledge of sewing and patience are key here. And yes it can be done. Doc did it while working the phones at Jjill!! What I ended up with was a king sized quilt perfect for my bed. Unfortunately I can no longer find it so it may have gotten ruined in our recent flood and thrown out by the clean up crew. All the more reason for me to make another!!
So, here is how it works. First, gather all of your recycled fabric and then use your pinking scissors to begin cutting squares of fabric that are a good 2″x2″ in size. You can go bigger or smaller if you wish. Just keep in mind that this is a crazy quilt so exact accuracy is not important. Close to the same size on each square is just fine. You now have a pile of scraps that you can use to kindle the fire and a pile of what is better known as fat quarters.
Lay your unzipped sleeping bag out on the floor and begin to lay fat quarters around it, being sure to butt them end to end. Do this across the top of the sleeping bag and along one side. Now grab yourself a piece of paper to write down how many squares you have on each of the sides and then add four more squares to each of these figures. So, if your sleeping bag measures 20 of your squares long then you will want to sew 24 squares together to make it large enough to fit the bag lengthwise.
Now you can begin forming chains. Sew squares end to end to end until you have a complete chain of squares. Make as many of these chains as you need to go across the width of the bag. So, if your bag was a width of 15 squares you will need to sew around 19 chains to cross the width.
Now that you have your chains complete lay them on top of the sleeping bag to make sure they actually do fit. This is key since your fat quarters were not exact in size. If everything fits you may move to the next step. If you have a chain or two that is too short then add a few extra squares to them to get them perfect. The key is to have 1″ of overhang on either end of the chain over the top and bottom edge of the sleeping bag. This overhang will allow for your bottom and top seams.
Now that your chains are of correct length begin sewing them together. Once finished you will have what now resembles an actual quilt. Now place the quilt on top of the sleeping bag one more time. Make sure that you have your 1″ seam allowance on all 4 sides of the quilt. If you do you may move on to the next step. If not then sew more chains and add them to the quilt until you have enough seam allowance.
Once you have a 1″ seam allowance all the way around your quilt you will need to seam the top of the quilt so you have a nice finished edge to it. Now place the quilt, wrong side up, onto the flat sheet, which is facing right side up. Pin the two together and then sew them along just 3 sides, leaving the top open where you seamed the quilt earlier. Done correctly you should now have what resembles a giant bag of sorts. Use your sewing machines button hole mechanism to make button holes at the top of your bag on the outside of your quilts top seam. At the top of your bag sew buttons to the inside of the top seam of the bed sheet side of the bag. Done properly, your bag can now be buttoned shut.
Pop your sleeping bag inside the bag, button it shut and you have a quilted duvet cover perfect for those long cold winter nights. Pop out the sleeping bag and button it back up for those warmer summer nights. If you prefer not to go with the much harder duvet effect then simply sew the sheet right onto the back of the quilt as a liner. Now you have a lightweight quilt perfect for year round or perfect to use as a throw on the couch. Experiment with sizes to make pillows, baby quilts etc. There is no limit to what you can do with rags once you have figured out how to make your fat quarters into chains and your chains into squares.
For something really fun take your kids old torn clothing to turn into baby blankets. When they have children of their own surprise them with this novel baby gift. Not a lot of rags laying about the house? Ask a local furniture store if they have any old samples. They usually are more then happy to give these away as long as you promise not to sell your quilts for profit. Have a lot of T-shirts from your travels but never wear them? Cut the fronts and backs off. Sew the fronts together to form a quilt of where you have been. Sew the backs together to form a matching liner. Now you can snuggle up with all of your warm memories night after night.