Up-cycling is a fancy way of saying re-purposing, which quite honestly is a fancy way of saying, use the old stuff you have to make cool new stuff you want. Up-cycle and save. Up-cycling for 25-50 % of your Christmas gift list will save hundreds of dollars.
A pair of earrings using recycled or found objects can not only be a beautiful and thoughtful gift, but can be personalized to the specific recipient.
Fancy Feather Earrings
• Re-purposed French earring hooks
• Feathers – found
• Fishing line
• Remove beads from old or mismatched earrings and retain for future projects.
• Use found feathers for ornamentation, selecting one or two for each earring similarly sized.
• Make a loop using fishing line and attach it to the quill end of the feather using more fishing line, leaving a small portion of the loop exposed.
• Attach to the earring finding.
Time: 10-15 minutes
Up-cycled cost: $0
CD Wall Clock
Create a dramatic and personalized modern wall clock with a great musical theme.
• Recycled table top, such as the ones from those little end tables with three screw-in legs that always wobble
• Clockworks from an old clock or purchased from a craft store. Hands should be approximately 6-8 inches in length
• 12 CDs from your favorite artists
• Paint – use whatever you have left over
• Picture hanging hardware
• Remove any table leg hardware from the table top and retain for future projects.
• Paint the table top and let it dry.
• Using a hot glue gun, attach the CDs, label side out, around the newly painted clock face.
• Drill a hole for installing your clockworks, securing the clockworks to the back and attach the hands.
• Install the picture hanging hardware to the back at exactly the 12:00 position.
Time: 45 minutes
Up-cycled cost: $0-15
Beautiful pottery embedded pots are lovely as a center piece on a dining room table or a deep window sill.
• Broken plates
• Leftover grout from home improvement projects
• Small clay pots, approximately 3″
• Hot glue gun
• Sponge and a bucket of water
• Find cool and interesting plates at yard sales or your own kitchen, using ones with chips or cracks. Cover the plates with old newspaper and break the plates into small shards.
• Attach small plate shards to pots using the hot glue gun.
• Fill in the spaces between the shards with grout. Use discarded earring beads and bobbles from earring project for added interest.
• Wipe excess grout with damp sponge.
• Plant with homegrown herbs.
Time: 45 minutes
Retail: $35 for a set of three without plants
Up-cycled cost: $0-10
Leather Shag Rug
Hot on the trendy design scene are hand tied leather shag rugs. Plan ahead for this project. It is a labor of love, but worth the time for the great design.
• Leather and lots of it. Look for discarded leather couches, old leather jackets, or gloves. Anything made from soft leather will work for this project. Cut the leather into 1″ strips approximately 6″ in length.
• Thin old blanket or bed sheet cut to desired rug size, plus a 2″ border. Start small, such as an entry rug or accent rug. This project takes some time. Use a double thickness if using bed sheets.
• Rug needle
• Embroidery floss in matching or complimentary color
• Box cutter knife
• Assemble your leather strips.
• Cut backing material to size.
• Working in a random pattern cut two small slits for each strip of leather. Thread through by hand and tie in a double knot.
• Fold border under and secure by sewing a blanket stitch around the perimeter.
Time: 8+ hours for a 4′ X 6′ rug
Up-cycled cost: $3 for the embroidery floss
Punched Tin Candle Holders
Decorative candle holders are always a great gift. Up-cycle food cans for a no cost gift.
• Food cans, various sizes
• Punch and old nail and a tack hammer work great
• Clean and wash the cans thoroughly, removing both top and bottom, retaining for later and only leaving the can cylinder.
• Create a punch pattern using your computer or other found pictures. Simple shapes are better.
• Tape the pattern to the can.
• Punch the outline and any details using the nail and remove pattern when punching is complete.
Time: 30 minutes
Up-cycled cost: $0