From Recycled Material Ideas

Tips, tricks and ideas for reusing, recycling, upcycling and restoring source materials for art and craft projects

Spray Finishes for Papier Maché Clay: The Sequel

Krylon Crystal Clear - satin spray finish
Krylon Crystal Clear – satin spray finish

Well, I finally got around to trying out the last hopeful contestant that I had around the house, in the search for a clear spray finish for my papier maché bowls.

I tried out Krylon’s “Crystal Clear” finish, using the same kind of coverage as I had in the previous experiment.

The results were disappointing, to say the least. I had thought the polyurethane and Rustoleum sprays were yellow. This was slightly more yellow than the Rustoleum, and not much less so than the polyurethane.

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Inspiration And Recycling Ideas From Fairy Gardens and Gnome Homes

Fairy garden with mushrooms purple flowers and stick fence
Fairy garden with mushrooms, purple flowers and stick fence

I love botanical gardens. I love miniatures. I love recycling materials. And I love creative uses for found objects.

So when I found out from a friend (who also loves miniatures and gardens) that there would be a fairy garden exhibit in the local Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, (more photos there) how could I resist? Thanks for being on the lookout, Cindy.

In the intro photo, notice the campfire, using bark with an orange lining made to look like flames. In the middle ground, there's a bowl made from an acorn cap. And of course, the moss. I want to lie down on it!

There were dozens of fairy homes and other environments, made of everything from bark, pine cones and moss (another fave) to fabric, beads, paper and twigs.

The builders also had so many unusual ways of creating a homey atmosphere for the fairies.

Someone even made dresses for them and hung them on branches all around a twig ball.

The ambience was made even better by the number of small kids wearing fairy attire. Adorable!

Several sections of this filled up in no time, since it was school vacation week, but it was still worth the trip.

There was a scavenger hunt, looking for items in and around the fairy environments, that everyone could join. My 10 yr. old partner in fairy garden love and tiny home creation, Alana, took part in it and we all joined in the hunt.

The center had an activity called Make a Gnome Home, encouraging kids to use whatever the staff (I assume) found around the greenhouses.

Between the gorgeous, varied and mature plantings throughout the greenhouses and the use of materials, there's plenty of inspiration for artwork and jewelry making - from shapes to palettes to material ideas.

The new series of polymer clay earrings in the ChirpHop Studio Etsy shop had its beginnings in the idea of Spring, fairy gardens and fairy-sized plants.

Stay tuned for Part 2, with more photos. There were just too many interesting houses to pass any up.

Fairy drops - pink and green
Fairy drops - pink and green polymer clay and small crackled marbles


Papier Maché Clay – Testing “Clear” Spray Finishes

Papier maché clay testers for "clear" spray finishes
Papier maché clay testers for “clear” spray finishes

There have been shelves full of decorative papier maché clay bowls just waiting for the weather to be warm enough to spray a finish on them. The time has finally come!

To make sure any finish worked well before I use it on the bowl that I’ve put time and effort into, some testing seemed like a reasonable idea.

The spray finishes were some I already had from other projects and wanted to make sure wouldn’t do something funky to the surface, like discolor it or react strangely (bubbles, stickiness, etc.)

I also have a few bowls with a white painted surface, so I wanted to make sure they’d stay white.

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Black Papier Maché Clay Experiment

Black papier maché clay mixture
Black papier maché clay mixture

I’ve been waiting for the weather to be warm and dry to seal my papier maché clay bowls and put them in the ChirpHop Studio Etsy shop. It’s been either warm or dry, but not both.

In the meantime, the notion of changing the color of the clay got into my head. If it was built into the bowl material, rather than applied to the surface, I could save some steps. Applying paint also sometimes has a “fake” look, almost like the bowl is made of molded plastic.

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Happy Accident – A Recycled Storage Case for DIY Alcohol Inks

Alcohol ink storage from recycled floppy disk case
Alcohol ink storage from recycled floppy disk cases

Sometimes it pays to clean out your closet, even if you’re avoiding something you should be doing instead (preparing tax info).

So, I’m pretty sure what possessed me to do my more-or-less annual computer/office supply closet purge and reorganization. If it hadn’t happened just after I made the alcohol inks from Sharpies, this idea would probably never have occurred to me.

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Make breakfast last a little longer

Always looking for ways to recycle household packaging (and a huge fan of my sacred morning ritual), one of my favorites is the plastic lining in cereal boxes.

cereal box liner They get a lot of use during gardening season, being a great way to store greens like lettuce, kale and arugula.

Liner bags can be rinsed out easily, closed with a chip clip and seem to keep produce fresh for a fairly long time.

The kitchen is always well-stocked with them, but after a certain point, the line between saving and hoarding gets a little blurry. Throughout the winter months, it seems like a such a shame to throw the liners away. Kale and arugula grew through November, but in the last few months, you wouldn’t be able to find them under the snow if it survived.

Today they got a chance to stay out of the trash a while longer.

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Patching Papier Maché Clay Bowls

Papier maché clay balloon bowl
Papier maché clay balloon bowl

When you work with papier maché clay, it can take awhile to get a feel for how thick you’re spreading the mixture over the mold. Too thin and it’s fragile, most likely with weak areas and pinholes. Too thick and you lose some of the delicacy of it.

A thickness of about 1/8″ (.125 cm) is sturdy yet not clunky. The photo above was taken before patching, when the sides were a bit too thin and there were pinholes in the bottom from flattening the base.

No wonder there are issues… it’s like spreading really wet tuna salad! Thankfully there’s an easy fix.

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Patching Cast Paper Bowls with Papier Maché Clay

Cast paper bowl gessoed and sanded
Cast paper bowl gessoed and sanded

Cast paper can be pretty lumpy, depending on the type of paper you use and how well you “puree” it. The papier maché clay recipe I altered for my bowls makes a smooth, sandable, easy to apply patch material to fill in the ruts.

I recently used it on a couple of different bowls – one made from cast paper and one made from the same maché clay.

Cast Paper Bowl Surface Finishing

The bowl in the photo above has been around for awhile. I love the finish on the other side, but the craters on the outside didn’t seem to “go” with it.

I sanded and sanded with a multi-function tool and only got so far. The results weren’t very satisfying after a lot of work.

Enter maché clay…

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New Papier Maché Clay Recipe for Making Bowls

bowls made from the new papier maché clay recipe
Bowls made from the new papier maché clay recipe

Cast paper bowls are fun to make and I’m a self-confessed container and paper lover. I’ve been making them for a few years, but was sometimes disappointed in the strength of the finished product, especially with larger bowls.

Then one day, I came across, which has a wealth of wonderful information. Jonni Good offers recipes, clear, helpful videos and the site has an active forum full of even more ideas.  It’s obvious that she’s always coming up with ways to improve her techniques.

For my purposes, the recipe needed some tweaking, but it transformed how I make my bowls (and how satisfied I am with them).

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