Eco Kids Crafts – Junk Mail Beads


{photo courtesy of NewNew]

If you are like me,  you have children under the age of ten and are dreading the summer dulldrums of “Mommy I’m bored” blues (dot dot dot)
You start scoping out project cards now for a craft a day challenge. I actually did this before the Ultra Hip Craft Mama movement of indie craftsters and make it your own doers hit the web. Five years ago, Etsy was not huge (godbless it for being fabulous) and communities were still in their infancy.

Keyword searching “Crafts for Kids” on Google yielded pages of pages of junk you had to sort through. It’s still not easy finding really the list of ideas of “Things to do with the Kids” with out a big cup of coffee and organizational skills. I lack the org. I really do. I may fool you into believing that I am so domestic goddess of clean and all together, Yeah it should be mentioned I am still living out of boxes from my move in May.

This will help though.I promise.

1- Collect Projects and print them out. Yes I know this is horrible for the Earth. But hear me out one second. Most you can stash on a drive and if they are PDF well then you are one step ahead of future easy print out sheets. Don’t bookmark a site though and expect 12 mo from now when you need a rainy day activity that it will still be there. People change blogs – close sites – have accounts revoke.. so on. Copy Paste Clean up for easier instructions (lets face it not everyone is a technical writer) and print.
(ECO TIP) Lots of that junk you’re going to use for this project are flyers – one-sided letters – statements. Look on the back if its clear it’s a printing space. Cram that in your inkjet and recycle it that way !

2- Stash it in something you and the kids can get to. There are lots of easy things to make and create that will stash your supplies – project sheets – and idea hosts for activities with the kids. The Container Store has this great thing to hang – that I potentially see as a project sheet stash mount. Go old school and get an old file cabinet from Goodwill and paint it bright and fun. Go simple and get a legal file box from Office Depot  you can put folders in. Those can be recycled completely when your kid craft days (age of 14) are done.

Think about it – sort activity by “messy” “easy” “rainy day”. Rainy day are very important. Here in GA when it rains it pours and that often means no power. Do you have activities to do when the power is out and the kids are pulling a “Lord of the Flies” in your basement… ? Ahh the lightbulb just went off didn’t it 🙂 Thanks that’s what I am here for folks!

(Health Tip) If you are going old school on the cabinet – check it out real well in out and under. Look for large rust deposits. These are hazardous to little fingers and mouths. Hardware stores have rust cleaners – removers – primers and such to hook you up get it gone and then ready for the paint. All of this however has to be done in a space – kid free where it can sit and air 24 – 72 hours during the process. I dont OWN anywhere in my home that has such a place do you ? Something to think about.

3- Project boxes. I had these when Pixie was little. I couldn’t trust her in her early years not to glitterati my walls or paint the carpets, so I had shoeboxes at the top of my closet full of crafting fabulous. Papers scissors glue glitter and everything under the sun. Yes it actually kept me organized and kept her out of trouble. Buttons off newly bought shirts went up there immediately, so she nor the cats would engage in a choking hazard. Same goes for this beading project. Get a nice basket and set that up by the front door, in the laundry room, in the pantry, as your paper box. This is where you will be putting the recycled paper goods for mache and future crafting efforts. Those tubs, bins and such you see, love them but when the kids are young, its like a disaster waiting to happen. What three-year old DOESNT want to get in those see through compartments and wreak havoc ! UP IN THE CLOSET TRUST ME!
Now with two more little ones coming on board I am rethinking the “I really need to get rid of all this extra craft stuff”. Summer is so hard on so many parents, start collecting your sanity tokens now!

From Lisa H – Bead Tutorial

Equipment:

– Kitchen blender
– 2 Buckets
– Large bowl or tub
– Sieve
– Awl
– Cutting mat
– PVA (white) glue
– Acrylic gesso
– Acrylic paints
– Clear varnish
– Paintbrushes
– Paper for recycling.

For this tutorial, I loosely packed a 1-gallon bucket about 3/4 full with scraps, which yielded around 100 beads ranging in size from 1/2″-1″.

Ideal papers to use: anything printed on standard office paper, business envelopes, take-out menus with a matte finish, kraft paper.

Papers to avoid:
glossy or coated papers such as magazine pages, waxed paper, newspapers and phonebooks (the ink is very messy and gross), facial tissue, paper towels.

NOTE: I recommend that you have dedicated equipment for home recycling/papermaking, rather than use the same items you use for food preparation. A good, used blender can easily be found at a thrift shop or yard sale. My rule is: if I use it for papermaking, I don’t use it for food. Papers are/can be  made with toxic chemicals.
STEP 1: Tear paper into 1″ scraps. (I have a shredder – this makes a huge difference) Make sure you remove any staples and all plastic windows from business envelopes. Place torn scraps in a bucket, fill with water, and let it soak overnight.

STEP 2: Now it’s time to make pulp! Put a couple of handfuls of paper into the blender and fill blender about half-full with water. Blend until the paper has the consistency of oatmeal, about 10 seconds. Place sieve over second bucket, and empty blender into sieve. After the pulp in the sieve has drained a bit, manually squeeze out excess water before transferring pulp to large bowl or tub. Repeat this step until all your scraps have been pulped, drained, and squeezed. (Wiremesh drainer – cheesecloth – broadcloth all work just as well).

STEP 3: Add a nice big dollop of white glue to the pulp, mixing it in with your hands.

STEP 4: Roll yourself some beads! Take a bit of pulp and roll it into a little ball between your palms. This is the tricky part. If the pulp has too much water in it, it won’t hold together. If it has too little water, it will be too crumbly to hold together, and your beads will break apart. Try rolling a couple beads and see how it goes. If the pulp is too wet to hold together, squeeze out more water. If the pulp is too crumbly, add back a little more water and some glue. You’ll soon get a feel for the proper consistency, and it’s easy to make little adjustments as you go. When in doubt, add more glue!

beadtutorial 2
Once you’ve formed all your pulp into little balls, let them sit in a nice, out-of-the-way spot until they are dry as a bone.

STEP 5: Put holes in your beads with an awl. (thats craft talk for nail for those of you who dont own crafty stuffs) Working on a cutting mat to protect your work surface, hold the bead steady between your thumb and forefinger and press the awl slowly and firmly straight down through the bead. (or on a block of wood press sharp nail through bead pop with a hammer on block –  not in your hand scar story from that one – and make a hole)

STEP 6: I like to prime my beads with a nice thick coat of undiluted gesso because it helps to smooth over the rough surface. This step isn’t absolutely necessary, and you can go straight to decorating your beads with paint, if you want.

STEP 7: Grab your paints and brushes and go nuts!

STEP 8: When the paint is dry, you can brush on a coat of clear varnish to give your new beads a little added protection and shine.
beadtutorial 3

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5 thoughts on “Eco Kids Crafts – Junk Mail Beads

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