Do you find upcycling to be a fantastic, creative way to help the environment? I know I do, however, there has always been something stopping me. I’ve seen several gorgeous upcycling projects online but refused to try any of them. I’m not sure what it was, perhaps I didn’t think I had the time. Maybe it’s because I doubted my ability to create something so unique and beautiful. One thing I know for certain is that I was wrong. Sometimes it’s not about the time it takes or our artistic ability, it’s about finding the right project to suit us individually. Here is a list of several easy and quick upcycling projects, each allowing you to put your own personal twist onto things.
1. Books to Shelves:
If you’re like me, your house is full of books. If not, well, you probably still have one or two you didn’t enjoy or are simply bored of. Instead of recycling, giving away, dropping off at goodwill, or throwing away these books, you could try a few simple yet beautiful tricks to repurpose them. The first tip I’ll share, and my personal favorite is turning them into floating shelves. To start, chose a hardcover book. If it’s not visually appealing, feel free to paint it prior to turning it into a shelf. Some other items you will need are L brackets, screws, and a drill. If you really want to get creative try using multiple books to create a “stacked” appearance.
Step 1: Take 1 or 2 L brackets and place them evenly between the back cover and the rest of the book.
Step 2: Screw the brackets into the pages, and glue the back cover to the bracket.
Step 3: Choose where you want to hang your shelves. Drill holes where the bracket holes line up. Screw the bracket to the wall tightly to secure the shelf.
Step 4: (optional) Stack books on top of the base book.
For video directions, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B_zpRYyLok
2. Books to Picture Frames:
This craft is a beautiful was to display your photos while finding a new purpose for your old books. Again, find yourself an old hardcover book and some photos you want to display. Other items you may need for this project is a plastic page protector (especially if you want to be able to change the photos), a sharp knife (Exacto encouraged), pen/pencil, masking tape/glue, and a ruler.
Step 1: Open the front cover of your book, take your photo (center it), and trace around the edges.
Step 2: Use your knife and ruler to cut about 1/8th and inch inside the lines you traced on the book cover. Important note: do not force the knife through, try slicing it a few times first.
Step 3: Once you’ve thoroughly cut through the cover, turn the book over and slice it from the front, at this point the hole for your picture should just pop out of the cover.
Step 4: Use your knife to clean up the area, removing stray threads and rough edges. Don’t think you have to make it perfect, imperfection can be just as beautiful.
Step 5: Take the sheet protector and cut it to be slightly bigger then the photo you traced. Now you can put the photo in the protector and secure it down with tape or glue to the book.
Step 6: This step is unnecessary but may be fun; use art materials, ribbons, string, paint, to make your photo frames more visually appealing, and to better fit your home décor and personality.
For steps with pictures, follow this link: http://www.itsalwaysautumn.com/2012/05/03/make-a-photo-frame-from-a-favorite-book.html
3. Old Cans into Wall art or Organizers:
Who doesn’t have old food cans? Before finding these upcycling options, I used to simply throw them in the recycling bin, but not anymore. This craft is very simple and allows for endless opportunities. Simply start off with some old tins cans, if they are food can's remove their labels, wash thoroughly, and file down any sharp edges.
For wall décor:
Step 1: Take several cans and arrange them in any pattern or design you want.
Step 2: Glue them together with hot glue, or super glue.
Step 3: (optional) Paint or design them. Spray paint is the quickest method.
Step 4: Use a few screws to hang them on the wall, or place around the house.
Instead of wall art, you can also use them for organization. This is even simpler, just take the cans, and follow the same steps as above but don’t glue them together. Feel free to make them more desirable to look at, or leave them as is, you can place them around the house, or glue them to wood and place them on the wall.
This video shows 10 different organizational ideas you can do with old cans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmbgZMciNuQ
Do you have any shirts with holes, stains, or even just out of fashion? Try these few quick trips to make them wearable again. These ideas may be the quickest and most simple form of upcycling there is.
Slits: Cut slits into the backs or sides of your shirts. Slits can be small or large, personalize it to fit your taste.
Sleeves: Cut slits in your sleeves or tie them into bows. Cut one large slit, then using a piece of fabric or ribbon, tie the sleeve into a bow as seen in the picture below. Sew it for longer lasting effect.
Bow-back: Start by cutting slits in your shirt. Then you can take a piece of fabric, this can be from the shirt or even just some ribbon, tie the fabric around the middle of the slits as seen in the picture below. Sew it for a more secure and permanent result.
5. Glass bottles and Mason Jars:
Mason Jars, and Glass bottles are perfect for adding a little decoration to your house. Beer bottles, jelly jars, and other recyclable glass containers are all things we don’t think about and just throw into the recycling or trash. Seems a little silly once you see what we can make out of them instead. Here are three quick and easy projects.
Vases: Thoroughly clean glass bottle or Mason jar. To make more attractive add paint, ribbons, string, etc. to decorate the jars.
-Some decoration ideas -
What you need – a clean and clear mason jar or glass bottle. The Photos you want to display. A ruler, pencil and knife/scissors.
Step 1: Measure the container you want to use and trim your pictures to fit its size.
Step 2: Roll up the photo just enough to fit into the opening and slide it into the jar, use your fingers or a pencil to unroll it and put it into place.
Step 3: Display.
Note: Mason Jars are easier, bottles can be a bit tricky.
Turn Glass Bottles into cups:
This process can be a little difficult. First start with a well-washed glass bottle. If you attempt this make sure you are wearing protective goggles, gloves, and are in a well-vented area. I suggest doing it outside on concrete.
Preparation – Make an ice bath. Pour acetone into a dish. Cut yarn.
Step 1: Wrap yarn around the bottle where you want it to be cut. Wrap about 3 times.
Step 2: Soak yarn in acetone.
Step 3: Put yarn back on bottle.
Step 4: Holding the bottle over the ice bath, light the yarn on fire. Roll the bottle in your hand a few times, then put the bottle in the ice bath.
Step 5: File down edges.
The following video shows this process as well as 2 other ways to do it…