I was on a walk with my dog Newt the other day, and whilst sniffing around on a grassy knoll she cleverly brought my attention to an abandoned hubcap. Most would have left it where it was… but I know a crafty opportunity when I see one!
If I find a lonely hubcap in good condition I always take it home for a crafty project… and once you start to look out for them, it’s amazing how many you see! The one Newt found only had a few wear and tear scuff marks on it and, after a wash in some soapy water and a touch up with some paint, it was ready to be turned into a mirror with a flower theme.
I had a set of chipboard flower shapes that had been sitting in my craft stash for ages, and now here was the perfect use for them!
I decorated the shapes with metallic paint, and added steam punk themed embellishments at their centres, for extra detail. These provided the perfect decoration for my revitalised hubcap, and gave my brand new mirror a gorgeous spring theme!
When I’d finished the project, I wondered what Newt would sniff out next. I didn’t have to wait long. On the very next walk we had, she came across a complete wheel from a bike. It’s in excellent condition and I have the start of an idea of what I can do with it, Crafty Beggars style!
New to upcycling and don’t know where to start? Since almost anything can be upcycled given enough thought, it can be a pretty daunting craft to explore! But it needn’t be… check out our upcycling ideas below, and give your first upcycling project a go!
Upcycling Old Boxes:
It goes without saying that boxes make excellent storage solutions – but old cardboard boxes certainly aren’t the most attractive thing to have on display. Enter upcycling! Cardboard is so incredibly versatile, you can paint it, decoupage it, cover it with fabric, add adhesive embellishments and more. Add extra strength to your box’s corners and edges before you begin with good quality duct tape, then decorate to match your decor.
Upcycling Coat Hangers:
Oh, the things you can turn a coat hanger into! Think wind-chime, photo frame, hair accessory holder and more. If you own the metal variety you can be extra creative by twisting them out of shape and creating something entirely new – but even if your coat hanger is not malleable, it’s still usable! Add some pretty coloured pegs and attach a row of photographs, or attach strings of pretty translucent beads to hang below, and pop it into your window as a colourful sun catcher.
Upcycling Old Glass Jars:
Glass jars are so upcyclable, we cannot do them justice in just a couple of sentences… which is why we dedicated an entire blog post to how to upcycle glass jars! You can read it right here.
Upcycling Old Clothes:
Maybe they don’t fit, maybe they’re no longer fashionable – whatever the reason, there’s no need to throw them out! The opportunities to get creative with old clothes are limitless – think pet beds, tote bags, toy bags, baby bibs, oven mitts… you just need to start thinking of unwanted clothes as fabric freebies! Take your scissors to them to create usable fabric squares and other shapes, then start creating things to love!
Coffee, cooking sauces, preserves, fruit jams, and a thousand other spreads have one thing in common: they come with a glass jar! I can’t actually remember the last time I chucked an empty jar into the recycling bin. They make such a great base for a range of crafting mediums that I have cupboards full of jars, just waited to be decorated… they’re awaiting their turn for a new lease of life!
Fabric, String, Embossing Powder, Wands, Blackboard Paint…
Jam Jar Project #1:
Leading the way is the mighty coffee jar! I found a huge piece of rich purple and gold fabric in a charity shop and used a scrap of it to wrap around the widest point. I actually made this to match a cat that I stitched in the same fabric. It was a project for the first Create and Craft UK show that Crafty Beggars appeared on! Sadly, I don’t own a cat and had to search the kitchen cupboards for something that resembled cat biscuits. The keen-eyed readers of this blog will already have spotted that the ‘cat biscuits’ in the jar are in fact Coco Pops!
Jam Jar Project #2:
The next decorated jam jar is my absolute favourite, and one of the very first things I made using embossing powders. The enamel adheres so well to the glass, this jam jar project produces really spectacular results! Plus, the mix of purples and greens was, to me, a winning combination. – think mermaids, unicorns, and all things mystical! Note again the use of garden string – an essential bit of kit to have on hand for any jam jar upcycling project. You can see I make great use of it!
Jam Jar Project #3:
Yes – it’s another decorated coffee jar! But this time it holds bits of lace instead of fake cat biscuits. The ‘thorny branches’ were adding using Pinflair Wands, which come in several different colours. The wands produce perfect dots to embellish many different types of projects. To create the effect you see on this decorated glass jar, I drew a straight line using the Pinflair wand, then flicked a pencil tip through it to add the thorny spikes. You could also experiment with glass paints, for more exciting ways to add art and design!
Jam Jar Project #4:
A simple square of blackboard paint gave purpose to this jam jar. It’s much better than a sticky label, and a small pot of blackboard paint lasts for ages!
Putty, Raffia, Glitter Rub-On Transfers, Paint, Buttons…
Jam Jar Project #5:
Another coffee jar heads up this trio (I drink loads!). The peacock feathers that decorate this jar were made out of a unique crafting product called ‘Nutty Putty’. I made the design on the glass then put the jar in a hot oven for 10 minutes. This lets the putty ‘bake’ into a silicone rubber which sticks firmly to the glass. I finished off this one with raffia ribbon instead of garden string and, as you can see, I store old scrabble letters in it. If you’d like to add 3D embellishment to an old glass jar but don’t have any Nutty Putty of your own, you could create 3D decorations using the ColiDo Pen, or some modelling clay. Be sure to create them atop the jar you wish to add them to, so that they dry solid with a perfectly curved base, then stick them to your jar using craft adhesive!
Jam Jar Project #6:
Next is another tea light holder. This time, the blackboard paint is inside the jar – a perfect backdrop for one of my favourite embellishments: Create and Craft Glitter Rub-On Transfers.
Jam Jar Project #7:
Once again, the seventh jar is a candle holder. I gave it a very summery feel by using a splash of yellow paint inside the jar. The rabbit buttons are my own but you can stick any to a band of ribbon for an attractive result. Try random plain buttons or other embellishments!
Coordinating Candle Holders with a Vintage Feel…
Jam Jar Projects #8, #9 & #10:
These three jars sit together on some shelves in my kitchen and I use them all as candle holders (I do love a glowing candle – if you couldn’t tell by now!). By using similar colour and material combinations, jars can be grouped together to give out a warm glow in unison. These particular fabric scraps have a vintage feel about them and, again, you can see where all my garden string goes! The jar in the middle features the Hand of Fatima – an old jewellery charm – and the jar on the right is brightened up using some metallic thread.
Well, that’s my Top 10 Jam Jar Craft Ideas – I hope I’ve inspired you to jazz up your jam jars (or coffee jars, or any other empty jars you may have lying around)… and I hope your partner is as understanding as mine when they open the kitchen cupboards and see how many you’ve got stashed away!
A new year, a new diet (why did I eat so much over Christmas?) and of course… a new melting project! I am rather taken with melting things in the oven to create something unique – and when I saw bags of plastic soldiers in Poundland there was only one place for them to end up! They melted easily and after a good coating of gold spray I was happy with the finished bowl. If you fancy giving this a go here are a few tips…
It’s rather sad, post-Christmas, to have left behind all the festive creations – but I found happiness as always in the form of driftwood! The candle holder pictured here was made by gluing driftwood pieces around a coffee jar (I never chuck them away now, they are so useful!), then adding broken pieces of china for decoration. It really does look great in the evening with the light flickering through. If you’re not close to a beach head over to EBay for some bargain bundles of driftwood for sale. And if you haven’t got any smashed china to hand this too can be purchased from Ebay (is there ANYTHING that can’t be bought on this site?!). In terms of glue – Hobbycraft’s PVA ‘Fabric Glue’ is way ahead of the rest.
Sewing isn’t my favourite occupation but I was glad I put in the time and effort with these wedge satin sandals. I thought they would benefit from a splash of colour, and after a trip to the bead shop in Kingston I found just the embellishments I was looking for. The crucial bit was sewing the second sandal well enough to match the spacing of the first – but I got there in the end. Roll on summer!
We have always been more Twitter people, but over the festive period we were determined to master the art of Facebook (one has to move with the times after all!). I am glad to say that Crafty Beggars TV is now up and very much running on Facebook so do check in with us there. We are under Crafty Beggars Presenters and our ‘Page’ is Crafty Beggars TV. Or just click on the FB logo on our homepage here! We put up lots of ‘makes’ and news on Facebook and enjoy sharing some amazing works of art that we find along the way!
It’s been another busy week at Crafty Beggars HQ as we get ready for Christmas and begin to look ahead to filming series 2 of the show in the spring of next year. Julie and I always say that actually presenting the show is the easy bit – it is all the pre and post production which takes the hard graft! However, even though our days are still jammed with meetings, press and paperwork we have still found time to squeeze in a bit of crafting. There is nothing like a tube of glue in one hand and a glass of wine in the other to slow things down and find some pleasure in an otherwise manic day! Having said that, my initial efforts at making a bowl made from buttons was less than relaxing….
I love the result but it wasn’t an easy journey, primarily because I was under the misguided notion that if I greased the inside of a bowl and lined it with buttons they would melt in the oven.
They did not! The smell of burning buttons was so bad that the kitchen stank for a week and Gary and the boys complained bitterly! Not to be deterred I came up with a Plan B, which was to line a small cereal bowl with tissue paper and simply glue the buttons on top. When it was bone dry I took it out of the cereal bowl, turned it upside-down and sprayed the underside gold.
Now this one DID do as it was told! This bowl was made using white plastic ‘pony’ beads and bottle tops. I put some sea creature pictures in the bottle tops because the melted white beads reminded me of sea foam! These bowls are so easy to make yet look like something you’ve spent hours on.
I painted this oil on canvas recently to help raise funds for the Born Free Foundation. I am a Patron of Born Free along with my husband Gary and my sister Anthea and we have all had the pleasure of working with them over the past 15 (at least!) years. My lion went into an auction and some kind person purchased him for £350. For more info about the charity visit www.bornfree.org.uk
On a more festive note I had fun making these earrings out of a used Coke Life can and a couple of sparkly red charms. If you have a look at our December Make of the Month video you will see that I am wearing them in that. They are certainly unusual and people always admire them when I wear them – which goes to show that sometimes the simplest and cheapest crafts can sometimes be the most effective!
At the end of November we had a Crafty Beggars / Hobbycraft stand at the Hobbycrafts Simply Christmas event at ExCel in London. Visitors could stop by and have a go at making a Desk Hog or a Sock Teddy, and also have a look at some edited highlights of the first series of Crafty Beggars. Our stand was busy from dawn til dusk and it was really lovely to hear such kind comments about the show. We will be back at ExCel at the end of March next year so do hope to see all our crafty friends there again.
This year our annual family holiday was in Cornwall (as indeed it is every year!) and we had a lovely couple of weeks staying at Watergate Bay near Newquay. We have only been going to Watergate Bay in particular for the past three years after my close friend Jane asked us to join her and her family down there one summer. Previous to that it has always been a part of Cornwall that I have consciously avoided…. When I was little we spent some extremely happy times there as a family – then my sister (Ruth) died and I couldn’t bear to return to the beach where we had spent our last holiday together. Places are rarely as idyllic as you remember them and I didn’t want to damage the memory. However, bolstered by the enthusiasm of my two boys we did indeed join Jane at Watergate Bay and after some tears (from me, Jack and Freddie were already in the sea!) it turned out that it was as magical as I remembered it and my childhood holidays there were something to celebrate, not mourn.
Now… I am not at all lured by the Cornish surf and so this year whilst my husband Gary and the boys were in the sea I spent HOURS pottering around the beach collecting ‘treasure’. This was in the form of any interesting shells, small stones and the most coveted items of all – sea glass! When I found pieces of sea glass I may as well have spotted diamonds, such was my delight. Once home however all these things were in danger of gathering dust in some forgotten pot in the garage and so pretty much immediately I set about making something from them which I could look at every day and think of Watergate Bay. The result is this sea horse which I have called Melody (there was an episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants which featured a sea horse by that name and SB is one of my favourite programmes on TV!)
I had two pieces of glass left over and twiddled some wire around it, adding it to the line-up of the broken piece of china and skull-and-crossbones charm to create the brooch pictured here.
The beige stones pictured here are ones I found on the beach at Watergate Bay (will I get into trouble for admitting that? Hope not!) and the glazed pottery ‘stone’ in the middle is one I made many years ago when I was at school. I remember calling it a Pobble which I guess is a cross between a stone and pebble!
Well… since Crafty Beggars has well and truly plunged me back into the world of crafts and creativity I recently made it my business to revisit some of my finest moments from years back. As ‘Potteries born and bred’ I did ceramics at school for O and A Level and am pleased that my mum saw fit to keep some of my best efforts! I departed London, hit the road northbound and some 3 hours later arrived in Stoke-on-Trent and ultimately through the doors of my family home – the mothership!
I had actually gone primarily to do some work for The Evening Sentinel ‘Our Heroes’ awards (The Sentinel being our local newspaper) but took the opportunity to photograph some of my old work – which brought back wonderful memories of Mr Lowe and Mrs Harding (the pottery teachers at St Dominic’s in Stoke) and of my very happiest times at school.
This is large and heavy– measuring 18”h x 14”w – and thus never moves from this window ledge. I didn’t make the dragon in the picture but he is a great addition to the ‘fairy castle’ idea.
This has survived the last 32 years rather well – the tip looks like it has been glued back on at some point however!
Obviously this is a VERY early piece – and at some 40 years old I guess it’s not too surprising the fairy has lost both her arms! Nevertheless my mum kept her, as a proud mum would do! I can see now it was only biscuit fired (unglazed) so it’s a surprise it’s survived at all.
I took photos of a few more bits of pottery and also some examples of my early efforts at sewing… it’s amazing the array of things my mum has kept from all those years ago! I will share them with you in the next post. Until then…