4 ways to turn ordinary household items into craft supplies

Make Your Own Craft Supplies

by Sharon Lopatka

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It's a great project! You've read about it and now you finally have the time to do it. You race to your neighborhood craft supply store and put all the items you need in your basket. You are now at the checkout counter when you hear the dreaded words from the cashier, "that'll be $87.27"! What? Just for these few items? "Do you want to put something back"? she asks. "No", you reply because you know you need everything you've gathered to complete your project. After thinking it over a bit you realize that you could buy the completed craft project that you were about to make from a craft retail store for less money than it would take for you to make it. You empty your basket and go home. After this fiasco, you asked yourself "how can I possibly do a project without spending so much money?" After all, crafting is supposed to be inexpensive as well as fun.

Well I have some exciting news for you! You can make your own craft supplies at home, using ordinary household items presently sitting on your kitchen shelves collecting dust! Let me share a few of these "recipes" with you:

Dryer Lint Modeling Material

You will need:
3 cups dryer lint
2 cups cold or warm water
2/3 cup non-self-rising wheat flour
3 drops oil of cloves
old newspapers

How to make it:
1. Put lint and water in a large saucepan. Stir to dampen all of the lint.
2. Add flour and stir thoroughly to prevent lumps.
3. Add oil of cloves.
4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture holds together and forms peaks.
5. Pour out and cool on several thicknesses of newspaper.

Makes 4 cups

How to use it:

Shape over armatures (boxes, bottles, balloons and so forth), press into a mold, or use as you would paper mache pulp.

This material will dry in 3 to 5 days to a very hard, durable surface. When wet, it has a feltlike consistency. It dries smooth or rough, depending on how it is used. Press material into a mold to obtain a hard, smooth finish.

Stored in an airtight container, this material will keep for several days. See Dion's Newsletter for modeling dough, soapsuds clay and other modeling compound "recipes".

Flower Preservative with Cornmeal

If you love to make flower wreaths, I know you will love this "recipe." Dried flowers always break apart and are hard to work with. On the other hand, fresh flowers turn brown and lose their vitality with time. Using this method, you can preserve daisies, pansies, apple blossoms, asters and other flowers. They will stay summer fresh indefinitely! I've seen a kit advertised for sale on T.V. that uses a more tedious technique and costs around $50!

You will need:
1 part powdered borax
2 parts cornmeal
covered cardboard box (a shoe box or stationary box)
fresh flowers

How to make it:
1. Thoroughly mix borax and cornmeal.
2. Cover the bottom of box with 3/4 of an inch with the mixture.
3. Cut flower stems to about 1 inch long. Lay the flowers face down in the mixture. Spread the petals and leaves so that they lie as flat as possible. Do not place flowers too close together.
4. Cover the flowers with 3/4 inch of mixture.
5. Place the lid on the box and keep at room temperature for 3-4 weeks.


Here again is a great technique to use to make ordinary objects into colorful creations. This also has been advertised in kit form on T.V. and sells for $39.95. But once you see how easy it is, you'll wonder why anyone spends money to buy the kit!

You will need:
8 packets (2 ounces) unflavored gelatin
1 pint boiling water
shallow baking pan
5 pints cold water
oil paints
brown wrapping paper or paper bags

How to make it:
1. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.
2. Pour mixture into shallow pan and add cold water.
3. In separate bowls, mix each oil paint with a bit of turpentine to the consistency of thick cream.
4. Drop a few spots of one color into solution in shallow pan. If the color sinks, the solution is too thick. If color spreads too much, it is too thin. When the solution is just right, drop in large spots of each color, one at a time.
5. With a spoon or stick, swirl into patterns.

How to use it:

Cut a piece of brown paper to the size of the pan. Hold the paper by opposite corners and lower onto the solution. Lift paper carefully and lay right side up on newspapers to dry.

Marbleized paper can be used for covering scrapbooks, notebooks, lamp shades, wastebaskets and many other objects.

Clean pan with turpentine.

Thin Paste

You will need:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-self-rising wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon powdered alum
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon oil of cinnamon

How to make it:
1. In a medium-sized pan, mix together sugar, flour and alum.
2. Gradually add 1 cup water, stirring vigorously to break up lumps.
3. Boil until clear and smooth, stirring constantly.
4. Add remaining water and oil of cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Makes 1 pint

How to use it:

Spread paste with a brush or tongue depressor. Thin paste is an excellent adhesive for scrapbooks, collages and strip paper mache. This paste can be stored in a jar for several months without refrigeration.

DION'S NOTE: Most of the ingredients used in the above "recipes" can be found at your local grocery store. Everything else is easily found in any hardware store.

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