14 Items to Recycle for Art Projects

14 Items to Recycle for Art Projects

The great thing about recycling materials into art is that you’re not only prolonging the lives of these items, but you are also making the world more beautiful and more clean. Read on to discover what materials you can reuse for new art projects.

1) Beaded necklaces or other beaded items you no longer want to keep can be repurposed for a new beaded project. I once received this beaded pillowcase as a gift and I wasn’t feeling it at all. In fact I really did not like looking at it in my room and I didn’t see the point in a beaded pillow– like why rest your head on something that isn’t soft? So I cut it up and now I have all these pretty pearl looking beads that I can save for a future art project. If you have any beaded stuff that you don’t exactly love, but would want to repurpose, just chop it up and make it into something new :) 

2) Sometimes the artificial floral decor you get at a craft store are made of bendable wire. I bought some fake ivy stems once to create a Poison Ivy costume for Halloween, but after the event, I didn't know what to do with it. I ended up using the ivy to wrap around my bedroom lamp, and I used it to hold back my curtains.

3) Have you ever noticed that tissue boxes usually come in cute designs and patterns? Before tossing out your next empty box, be sure to cut out the cute patterns and use them for your next collage!

4) We all receive Hallmark cards for special occasions. But once the nice check in there is deposited, what do you do with the card and envelope? Usually I keep the most meaningful cards with the rest of my memorabilia. But most of the time I receive cards that just contain names, the date, and the pre-printed message. Those cards don't hold much meaning to me but I still cherish them by recycling them into fun collages. 


The image above is a collage I made using red scraps. The big triangle behind the woman was actually the flap of an envelope from a card! 

5) I always find cool images and patterns from flyers, subscription magazines, and random stuff in the mail. For example, my mother passed away a few years ago but for some reason we still get nursing related magazines and the church newspaper. No one at home reads them so I take them and repurpose them for my collages. Before you cut up any of these items make sure they aren't going to be used by other members of your household!

6) Cereal boxes sometimes have fun looking fonts or cartoon characters. Cut up any images that stand out to you and you can use them for collaging. 

7) If you have an empty spray bottle lying around, try adding paint in it to add a cool splash effect to your canvas.

8) Leftover grocery store paper bags, like from Trader Joe's, are perfect for holding paper waste and collage scraps. Sometimes I also open it up and lay it flat to use as a table cover when I'm painting or working with glitter. 

Trader Joes bags are great for collecting paper scraps.

9) Old CDs or DVDs are hardly used anymore now that we rely on streaming services and Youtube. While decluttering a few years ago, I found an old DVD disc that I made as a gift for one of my exes. My best friend suggested I smash it up instead of tossing it in the recycle bin. So I smashed it into bits with a hammer, and used the shiny pieces to add a mosaic effect to one of my collages.

10) Old socks or old underwear (cleaned!) work great as stuffing if you ever wanted to sew a doll or a small toy. 

11) Wire hangers are so great because if you bend it open like one big circle, you have yourself a base for a Christmas wreath! 

12) Old bedsheets give you so much material to work with for sewing projects such as face masks, clothes, dolls, and more. Or you can just cut them up in pieces to use as rags for cleaning at home. 

13) Wall calendars are filled with large scale images. When you finish your calendar for the year, be sure to save it for a collaging day!

14) Sometimes you wanna get rid of old plastic tupperwareWhether they have impossible stains, dents, or you can't find it's matching lid, you can use these to hold and mix your paint. 


I hope you found this post helpful for your future art projects. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other recyclable materials that can be used for art projects!

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