Monthly Archives: May 2013

Reclaimed Paper Wedding Dress


This was a very simple and fun project that started out with some coffee filters that had gotten wet in soapy water. Not wanting to throw away the filters, I set them out to dry and then stored them for a future project. Although this happened a few years ago, I saved them and they were still in good shape. I have been crafting with recycled manila folders for a long time because this sturdy cardboard lends itself to a lot of recycled craft projects. While cutting out a doll form for another project, I got the crazy idea to use the coffee filters as a combination of collage and paper mache.


The soft fluffy feel of the coffee filter gave me an idea. I decided to tear up little thumb-nail size pieces, gluing only a tiny edge of the torn piece to the cardboard dress form, and leaving the rest of the torn fluffy piece hanging freely on the cardboard. When gluing the torn rough-edged pieces very close together, the overall look of the rows started to look like light fabric ruffles on a dress.


I then decided to stop at a certain point and glue beads to the top part of the dress. I traced the top part of the cardboard form onto plain paper and cut out that paper shape. I drew different designs and held them up against the top row of ruffles until I found one I really liked. I then glued bigger filter pieces to the top part and all the way down to the dress hip area as a base on which to glue on the white beads. I glued the white beads following the drawn design and was happy to see the beads were staying in place, and better yet, I didn’t have to sew on each bead, (although I love hand sewing ) .


The simple veil was made from two small pieces cut from the same cardboard manila folder. I cut out a one inch oval shape, poked a hole in the center of the oval shape and cut out an opening leaving a 1/4 inch ring. I then folded one (shorter) edge of the oval shape forming it into an L shape. I then cut out a smaller oval shape from the cardboard and cut (about 1/8 inch) from the bottom edge (of the longer side of the oval shape). I then glued the smaller oval shape (straight edge down) to the larger oval shape making sure the flat side of the L shape was lined up against the straight edge of the smaller oval shape. I cut small coffee filter pieces and glued them entirely over the brown of the cardboard veil. I then glued on the same white beads to the front of the veil in a pretty pattern. I cut out a piece of white tuling I had in my remnants box, basted one edge and trimmed a complimentary shape by placing it near the dress, and then sewed the basted edge around the back opening of the cardboard veil. For picture purposes, I displayed the veil near the dress by taping a small piece of cardboard behind the dress neckline.


The frame we used for this project was made from recycled pieces of wood leftover from other projects and stained with a dark brown latex stain. Although I reused coffee filters, recycled manila folders and embellishments, one can make this project using any kind of paper and cardboard. This also makes a great project to work on with family and friends. So always remember to just have fun and create your very own piece of art.


Reclaimed Teddy Bear


This recycled teddy bear project started from a beautiful but slightly damaged teddy bear that we bought at a craft store sidewalk sale in our neighborhood. The bear was a little dusty but nothing a little soap and water couldn’t remedy. The only thing wrong with this bear was that the eyes were ripped out and needed some kind of patches or replacement eyes. So I decided to start my next project with this bear because it had a nice color and the body joints were flexible. I was inspired to make a dress for the bear from an old deep pink polka-dot dress of mine that I had wanted to recycle for a future doll project. The bear was the perfect size and shape for this reclaimed fabric.


The bear washed nicely and after drying it thoroughly for several days, I laid the bear flat on craft paper that was larger than the bear. I took a pencil and traced an outline around the bear and marked the paper at the shoulders and legs (to determine the length of the dress). I then cut out the pattern, placed it against the different sections of the old dress to decide the best possible area to cut.


The old dress zipped on the center back and after placing the bear around different areas, I decided to try placing the actual bear inside the shoulder/sleeve section of the dress and found that the slight curve of the dress’s neck fit snugly around the curve of the bear’s neck and the dress’ floppy sleeve hung loosely around the bear’s wide belly like a skirt. There was plenty of fabric to fit all the way around the bear and more than enough dress fabric left over to make sleeves and a small purse. I designed a little purse and hat on paper.

I carefully cut the bear’s dress from the shoulder/neck section of the dress, made a few minor alterations and hand sewed the fabric to complete the back of the bear’s dress. I then traced out sleeve patterns, cut them out on the dress fabric and sewed the little sleeves to the bear’s dress. I then put the dress back on the bear and it fit very nicely. From my box of beads, I found many pearl beads I had left over from another project. I sewed a few pearl beads onto each sleeve cuff.


Next I traced the purse shape onto a thick piece of chip board and cut out more little cotton pieces from the cream colored blouse to cushion the little purse shape, then cut the dress fabric out for the little purse. For the purse strap, I cut a strip of cream colored cotton making sure to measure the strip length by wrapping it around the bear’s paw. I rolled up the strip and hand sewed the strap ends, one to each inside corner of the purse. I then covered the purse with the dress fabric and sewed the seam to one side of the purse. I placed a bit of cream colored fabric in the top center opening (and over the chip board insert) of the little purse and sewed more pearl beads onto the top and corner sections of the little purse.


Using matching tan colored thread, I sewed close each eye opening where the button eyes had been ripped out. In my remnant box of fabrics I used the same cream colored cotton blouse that I used to make purse parts. This particular blouse had a wide thick cotton band around the top and bottom edges. I cut out two circles on paper and held them up to the bear. After trial and error I found the perfect size eyes. I then traced the paper circles onto the blouse’s wide band and cut out two thick cotton circles. I sewed on the eyes and used a black dye fabric marker to color in the eyes. I then used white fabric paint to dot the center of each eye. The eyelashes I used were leftover from Halloween and I used fabric glue to affix them over each eye.


I found an old pearl necklace and pierced earrings, which I used to adorn the bear. I decided a cream colored shawl would look nice against the cream colored polka-dots, so I knitted a shawl using cream colored fun fur and size 11 knitting needles. I cast on 7 stitches and kept knitting until the shawl reached the length I liked on the bear. I also made the deep red lips on the bear by hand sewing a small length of deep red chenille yarn to the bear’s mouth area.


The hat was made from part of a recycled brown (thick cardboard) accordian pocket folder. Again, I measured and cut a big circle out from craft paper, put the cut paper circle on the bear’s head as this would measure the brim of the hat. I then made a couple of adjustments to the paper circle, traced it on cardboard and cut it out on the thicker cardboard. I cut the center of the circle in the center of the hat, rolled a smaller strip of the thick cardboard slightly inside the edge of the open hole (used glue along the edges), cut the a circle from the same chip board to complete the crown of the hat (also using glue to attach the circle to the crown). Next I used a remnant piece of cream colored fabric to cover the hat. I used a small strip of the polka-dot fabric to make a band around the rim of the hat.



Although I used this damaged bear to work on this project, you can always use one of your own bears or an old doll. Just remember to have fun creating your own piece of art.


Recycled Hubcap Clock


This hubcap clock was made from an old auto hubcap we found. We tend to save items that we feel could be put to good use. The hubcap was such an artistic piece because of its interesting details, beautiful shape, neutral color, and plastic composition, which made it easy to drill through. Once we bought the clock kit, this was a fun and fast project to make. Clock kits are available at most craft stores and online for very little money. The instructions were easy to follow and with the aid of some basic tools, the whole project was completed in a few hours.


Although we used an auto hubcap for this project, one can use a piece of wood or any object that you can drill through, or make a hole through to accommodate the clock mechanism stem that holds the clock hands. Look around for items that interest you and you may find that they can be recycled into a functioning piece of art such as this one. This is also a fun project to do with kids, letting them create their own working piece of art for their rooms. Like always, just have fun.


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