How Tos/Tutorials

Category Archives:How Tos/Tutorials

Make: DIY Cat Toys!

DIY Cat Toys! 

 

 

Make “kicker” cat toys easily with a few things from ACR, and customize them for your fluffy children’s needs 🙂

 

 

Materials: 
  • Fabric Remnants from ACR (the thicker, upholstery fabrics usually work the best because they are tougher materials and harder for your pets to rip apart) 
  • Crinkly cellophane, fabric scraps, paper scraps or whatever you want to stuff the inside of your toys with. (I choose crinkly plastic because my cats love it the most!) 
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks or liquid stitch glue (optional, if you want to glue them together instead of sew) 
  • Sewing machine (optional, if you want to sew them together instead of glue) Catnip (optional) 
  • Feathers, rope, bells, or any other extras you want to include 

 

Crafting time! 
  1. Remove any unwanted labels, etc from your fabric remnant that you want to use as your main body of the toy. 

 

2. Cut the fabric to your needs. If you sew, remember to give yourself enough room for a seam allowance.

 

3. Put the fabric together in your desired shape.

 

4. Sew (or glue) it together, leaving a hole in the shape so we can stuff it later. (if sewing- remember to sew the reverse side so it flips inside out to the right side!) 

 

5. (If sewing- turn it inside out to the right side of the fabric to prepare for stuffing)

 

6. Stuff away! My cats love the crinkly plastic, so I chose that to stuff with, along with fabric scraps as an extra filler. You can also add things like bells for extra fun. If desired, add catnip too! 

 

7. Sew (or glue) your final edge shut when the toy is stuffed to your cat’s desired squish-level. I sewed in feathers as well to this edge for an extra layer of fun- and because my cats love toys with feathers! 

 

Tada!

 

 

Cat Approved!

 

Make: DIY Jellyfish Floor Lampshade

Completed jellyfish lampshade by Reuse Specialist, James Talon!

 

Looking for the next cool thing to add to your house or just a fun DIY project to embark on? Well, this Jellyfish Floor Lampshade might actually help with more than just being Super Cool Looking! After learning about how my sleep schedule is affected by both the level of brightness of lights at night, and if a light is above eye level, I wanted to fix that!

Turns out that overhead lighting hits the cells on the bottom retina, and (of course) those are the ones most relevant to being able to sleep at night. And despite what people say about blue light, it’s not just blue light that’s harmful at night. It’s also the brightness of light that impacts a sleep schedule. “A mere 8 lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night-light—has an effect [on circadian rhythm]” said Steven Lockley, a sleep researcher at Harvard. So yeah, making a far dimmer floor lampshade (emphasis on the shade) seemed like the proper modification to do with my existing lamp. And so far for me, I can report better energy level at work and feeling more rested just from switching to dim lamps like this at night!

So how does one make this healthful, yet IKEA-designer-worthy DIY lampshade? It’s actually a fairly simple process!

 

Supplies Needed:

 

 

  • Hot glue gun, and gluesticks
  • Old printer paper stack

You might be able to use other paper but it needs to be fairly sturdy to hold all the weight of its tentacles. And on the other hand, too thick of paper will prevent light from coming through by the time you get to the third layer. You can test it by holding several sheets up to your light. You want to see enough light coming through that it’d still be a functional, yet dim lampshade.

  • Mod Podge
  • 3′ Inflatable ball

It can be bigger or smaller depending on how big your existing lampshade is. You’ll be covering about half of the ball to make a “half moon” shape, so keep that in mind when measuring it.

  • Bits of string

I used a leftover grapefruit size ball of yarn. I cut them into lots of 1.5′ – 2′ strings, (varying the size intentionally).

  • Floor lamp with LED* bulb

NOTE: The bulb MUST be LED. Do NOT use other bulbs. Any other bulb that heats up can start a fire using only the following instructions (i.e. without building a lampshade harp). This tutorial does not cover how to build a lampshade harp.

I used a Ring Light that came with an extendable tripod.

  • Sheer fabric

You need enough length that it almost hits the floor when held up to your existing floor lamp. I used 8 strips that were about 12″ wide, total.

  • Other “tentacle” pieces, get creative!

I found iridescent clear mardi gras beads, and some white ex-Christmas floral to hang down.

  • Actual jellyfish reference photos – it helps to achieve the “look”! You can look around your house for pieces to add using an inspirational photo.
  • Pencil

 

 

Instructions

1. Inflate your ball. Rip up several sheets of paper until you get lots of palm-sized pieces.

2. Mix together mod podge and water in a small bowl until you get about a 50/50 ratio.

3. Set the ball so the hole to inflate it is at the bottom and won’t be covered. Dip the paper into the glue mixture and lay it on the top of the ball. Continue laying down paper strips until you get about halfway down the ball, a “half moon” shape. Then start again at the top, working down and add 3-4 layers of paper total.

4. Test by holding it over your lamp light to be sure you went far enough down the ball that it will cover the lamp light.

5. Leave it to dry overnight or longer. Make sure it’s completely dry – it’ll be rock solid to the touch.

 

 

6. Deflate the ball and carefully peel it off.

7. Put the paper mache jellyfish “bell” over and on top of the lamp until it’s even and balanced. Mark where the lamp will touch the top by tracing around it with the pencil.

 

 

8. Use the hot glue gun to adhere sheer fabric strips for the “oral arms” close to the top of the “bell”, from the inside. I made four oral arms, according to the jellyfish anatomy diagram.

9. At the bottom of the bell, from the inside, I glued down the string at varying points – keeping some closer together, some farther apart, up to about 6″ inside the bell. Nature is messy, so I avoided making it all perfectly straight for a more organic and lifelike jellyfish look.

10. After that, you can glue on any extra pieces you’ve collected! Decide whether they’re tentacles or part of the oral arms. I used the mardi gras beads as tentacles, and the ex-Christmas floral as the oral arms by wrapping the sheer around each piece and glueing it down at the top. Balance the jellyfish over your LED light and boom – you have a new conversation-piece! Enjoy!

 

Turn Anything Into a Lamp!

 
In this easy tutorial, find out how ACR Board President Carole LeClair turns old household materials into unique lights for her home!

 

 

All supplies are found at ACR!
From our Container Section:
  • 1 Vintage Maxwell House tin – 25 cents 
  • From Architecture Section:
  • 1 decorative globe – $1
  • 1 switched light bulb cord – $1
  • 1 candelabra style LED bulb – 25 cents
From Craft:
  • 1 spool narrow duct tape – 25 cents
From my tool box:
  • tin snips

 

 

Instructions:

Use the tin snips to cut a small slot on the back side of the tin.  This will serve as the slot for the light bulb cord to go through.  Secure the light bulb socket using duct tape.  This was the fidgety part as it took a couple of tries to find a system that worked.  Add the bulb and then the globe. 

Let there be light!  I use this cutie on my back porch to add a bit of late evening mood lighting.

 

 

Here are a few more of Carole’s light creations. Thanks for always shedding light on the possibilities of reuse!

 

Creative Reuse in the Garden

Incorporate Creative Reuse in Your Outdoor Learning Spaces

Nature is the ultimate creative reuser.  Nutrients, water and other resources are constantly reused in any healthy ecosystem, meaning nothing goes to waste.  You, too, can use creative reuse to brighten up your home or school garden with decorative, sensory or functional projects made from materials that can be found at Austin Creative Reuse.

Our neighboring friends over at Harris Elementary School are using materials from ACR to create pollinator watering stations for their school garden.  Pollinators like bees and butterflies need water to survive just like we do.  Providing a pollinator watering station in your garden will help attract and protect these powerhouses of nature.

 

Pollinator watering station made with a pie tin, rocks, shells and marbles 

 

Creating your own pollinator water station is easy – you’ll just need a few things that you can find around your house or at ACR.
  • First, find a shallow pan or dish – an old pie plate or an upside down frisbee work great. 
  • Next, add a few small items for bees and butterflies to land on while they get refreshed. These are super important! Bees and butterflies can’t drink while they’re flying so they’ll need a little perch above the water. Rocks, marbles, shells, upside down measuring or baking cups and lids from glass jars are all good options.
  • Finally, put the dish in your garden, fill it with a bit of water (not too much!) and feel good about how you’re supporting our environment.  Refresh the water as needed to keep the pollinators coming back!

 

Here are some other ways to bring reuse to your outdoor space with materials that can be found at ACR:
  • Create plant markers by drawing on discarded ceramic tiles or laminate samples with permanent markers
  • Make a garden mosaic with broken tiles and small found objects
  • Create a bunting from fabric samples 
  • Hang a wind chime made from laminate samples, bells, old keys or other items
  • Build a birdhouse using scrap wood or wood flooring samples
  • Make a garden statue from old trophies

 

Garden mosaics made during an ACR Kids’ Workshop pre-pandemic

 

Garden statues created by ACR Reuse Specialist, Sabina Dodge

 

The possibilities are endless!  Be sure to share your projects by tagging ACR on Facebook or Instagram or emailing your photos to us at info@austincreativereuse.org. Happy reusing!

Using Earth to Make Art: Decoupage Seashells

 

This Earth Day, we are encouraging you to use your surroundings to make art. Here’s an easy tutorial to turn natural shells into decorative trinket bowls for your home, office, classroom, or shop!

 

 

Supplies:
  • Seashells
  • Tissue paper or printed napkins
  • White paint
  • Metallic paint
  • Mod Podge (or diluted Elmer’s glue)
  • Paintbrushes

 

Instructions:

 

Step 1

Use the white paint to cover any dark spots on the inside of the seashell. Let dry. Add as many coats as necessary.

 

Step 2

Lay the tissue paper on the inside of the seashell, and glue the paper to the shell by painting diluted glue on top. Rip off the excess tissue paper. Let dry.

 

Step 3

Use the metallic paint to cover up the edges of the shell and to give the tissue paper a nice finish.

 

Step 4

Use as a trinket bowl for your rings, keys, or knick knacks. Makers can also use these as a container or presentation for their goods.

 

Happy Earth Day from Austin Creative Reuse!

Make: DIY Doll Head Planters

Make a Doll Head Planter!

Make it Halloween year round with this creepy-but-cute Doll Head Planter tutorial by our Online Store Coordinator, Bianca! Super simple to make, grab a kit from ShopACR.org with everything you need to make your new doll-head friend!

 

 

Supplies:
  • One doll head
  • Paint brushes
  • Polymer clay
  • Paint

 

 

Instructions:

Step One – With the clay, roll some clay to where it stretches about 3 1/2″ and about 1/4″ or more thick to pose as a base. Then with more clay, make two small balls and press it to flatten it, about 1/2″ diameter. (Apply a tiny dash of olive oil to help soften the clay if it’s too hard.)

Make a tube of clay for the base, and flatten two balls of clay for the eyes

Tip: add olive oil to soften the clay

 

 

Step Two – Wrap the rolled clay around the neck of the doll head, adjust as needed. Then place the flatten circles inside the head where the eyes are and press until secured.

Wrap clay tube around neck, place flattened circles on the inside of the eyes

 

 

Step Three – Set your oven to 250-275 degrees and let the doll head bake for about 5-8 minutes or until the clay hardens.

 

 

Step Four – Paint! 

 

 

Step Five – Add two or three pebbles to the bottom of your new planter (optional) to prevent soil spilling out and then add soil as well as your favorite plant.

 

 

Make: Fabric Sample Stuffies!

Fabric Sample Stuffies!

Use up those fabric samples and scraps with this super easy stuffy tutorial by our Communications Specialist, Kaysie! Make these with your kids, create gifts for your loved ones, or snuggle up with your own creation! We have kits available in our online store so you can make stuffies of your own!

 

 

You will need:
  • Fabric samples or scraps
  • Scissors
  • Fabric marker
  • Embroidery needle and thread
  • Buttons
  • Filling (polyfill, dry rice or beans, etc)

 

 

Sewing Techniques

You can use different sewing techniques in this tutorial, based on the look you want for your stuffy. I suggest the following techniques:

running stitch

over stitch

blanket stitch

 

Making Your Stuffy:

Step 1 – Pick out your fabrics. Books of fabric samples have the perfect size fabrics for these cute little stuffies!

 

 

Step 2 – Figure out what kind of stuffy you want to make. Draw your template on the backside of the fabric with the fabric marker and cut. Make sure you cut out a front and a back!

 

 

Step 3 – Sew details onto the fabric pieces, i.e. buttons for eyes or embroidered details.

 

 

Step 4 – Sew together the main pieces using any of the stitches mentioned above, making sure to leave a gap to stuff!

 

 

Step 5 – Fill with polyfil or dry beans. Use a pencil to get in the hard-to-reach corners.

 

 

Step 6 – Sew the opening closed, finishing your stuffy.

 

 

Step 7 – Snuggle!

 

 

TIP!

Use a hairdryer to get those pesky stickers off the back of your fabric samples. Sew directly through them, or use the sticker fabric to create a fabric scrap collage!

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

A Pinch of Reuse this St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up! Check out these golden reuse ideas for crafts to make at home with your family and friends! 

 

Save those paper rolls from the landfill by reusing them into this super cute Leprechaun craft! Make mini leprechauns, green top hats, rainbow paper roll chains, and more – see our Pinterest Board for more paper roll possibilities!

 

Turn yourself or your little ones into a leprechaun with this easy and fun paper plate mask! Paint the plate orange, cut out the inner circle, and use construction paper to create a cute leprechaun tophat. Punch holes in the sides to tie elastic or string to wear your mask!

 

Avoid getting pinched this St. Patrick’s Day with these super cute and simple paper plate hats! Draw your design in the middle circle of the plate, color with markers or crayons, and cut around your design! Make sure to leave a part of your design connected to the outer ribbed edge of the plate to show off your cute hat!

 

Use a knife and a carrot to create a super cute shamrock stamp! Cut off the end for a smooth edge, and use a knife to cut an upside down triangle, so that the end looks like a heart. Dunk in green paint and stamp!

 

Reuse a plastic water bottle into a 3D shamrock craft! Just paint the bottom with green paint, cut off the bottom with a pair of scissors, and glue to your surface!

 

February Volunteer Spotlight: Julie Kennedy

Julie began volunteering with ACR in 2020, during a global pandemic. She has taken home numerous projects and helped us process, sort, label, and price the thousands of pounds of donations we get each month. A graphic designer by trade, Julie has also helped make craft tutorials for our social media channels to keep the community inspired in these crazy times! She was even featured as an artist in our Reuse Gallery back in November! We appreciate all of the work that Julie does for ACR and are so happy to have her as a part of the ACR family! Let’s get to know Julie a little more.

 

 

What motivates you to volunteer, and why ACR?

I was just raised that way. My mom was (and still is) a big volunteer. She volunteered at my school and in the community. I tend to volunteer with organizations that I’m passionate about… which is how I ended up volunteering at ACR!

 

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?

That’s a tough question… both are important. I am a scrapbooker and card maker…. So I am always wanting to learn new techniques. I used to shop at garage sales and thrift stores to find cheaper items, as well as items I couldn’t find in local stores. I like to try new art techniques without investing a ton of money. Now I get all that from ACR! Plus, I love that I’m helping keep items out of the landfill. So many things can be reused. I also donate as much as I can to ACR. I have a child who, like all children, outgrows her interests as the years go by. So I take those things she’s outgrown and donate them to ACR. 

 

Where else have you/do you volunteer?

I have volunteered at my daughter’s schools over the years, as well as the local SPCA and Austin Pets Alive. I’ve also volunteered at a few Special Olympics.

 

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR?

I enjoy feeling like I’m part of something important… something that makes a difference in our community. And I like the people… and I can’t wait to meet more in person after this pandemic is over! 

 

What do you do when you are not volunteering at ACR?

I work full-time on my freelance graphic design business. But I travel whenever possible with my husband and my kiddo. Of course, with the pandemic, that’s on hold. So I make cards and think about catching up on my scrapbooking (for some reason, that always gets pushed to the bottom of the list). I have decided there are four hobbies involved when crafting… there is the watching of YouTube tutorials; the purchasing of craft supplies; the organization of craft supplies; and if time permits… the actual crafting. 

I also love to read and spend time with friends and my dog. I am also taking tap-dancing classes… just because it’s always something I’ve wanted to do. 

 

Here’s a sampling of Julie’s incredible handmade cards:

Make: DIY Statues

 

Created by Reuse Specialist Sabina Dodge, these miniature, stone-like, DIY statues add interest to any garden or shelf. Try making them yourself by purchasing a kit from our online store. Be sure to share what you make by emailing us at info@austincreativereuse.org or tagging us on Instagram @austincreativereuse

 

Supply list:
  • 3 cork squares per statue
  • Small bag of moss
  • Small bag of small rocks
  • Trophy top(s)
  • White, Grey, or other neutral paint
  • 1 sheet green felt

 
Instructions

1. Remove any parts of the trophy you don’t want or that makes it look too modern.

2. Apply a first coat of paint to the figure. Holding the bottom screw with a clamp or pliers works great

3. Let coat dry while starting on base

4. Use a stick, or just the bottom screw of the figure to poke a hole in the middle of the cork squares. (Alternatively, wait until you have completed Step 7 to make the holes.)

5. Stack 3 cork squares to form your base, this will be tall enough for the screw on the bottom of the figure.

6. Line up the holes in the corks, then break off pieces around the outside of the cork to make the shape more irregular and natural looking. Each cork piece should be smaller than the one below it. This will add more dimension to the base.

7. Glue the cork shapes together, making sure to keep the holes lined up. 

8. Attach the figure to your base. The screw on the bottom of the figure will hold it in place, you can glue it in place if you want.

9. Using glue, spread the moss around the base, covering the cork. If a little cork shows through, it’s ok, as it’s still an earthy color.

10. Being very light with your glue or adhesive, sprinkle or place some rocks around the base, they’re great for filling in little gaps between the moss.

11. Using a slightly darker shade of paint (mixing a tiny bit of brown into grey works well), and a stiff brush, dry brush the figure to make it look more weathered.

You’re done!

 

Instructions for an Alternate Statue

1. After painting this figure, I decided I didn’t think the ball she was holding fit what I wanted, so I broke that hand off. Ancient statues often have limbs or other pieces broken off, so even damaged trophy tops will work great for this project!

2. Follow steps 4-7 above to make the cork base.

3. Cut a piece of felt a bit bigger than your base, then glue it over the cork base, pressing it down into the nooks and crannies of the base so it has more texture and dimension.

4. Trim all but a tiny bit of excess around the edge after gluing, then fold it under the bottom, gluing it in place.

5. Cut a small hole in the felt to match the cork, then attach your figure per step 8.

6. Decorate your base and figure how you want like in steps 9-11

Note: Using felt to cover the cork is nice if you want a more minimalist base, or if the brown cork doesn’t fit with your idea.

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