There’s nothing quite as therapeutic as creating something new. This enormous list of things to make is organized mostly by material . You’ll find something for every skill level and every age group – including many unique ideas! And you’ll love that you already have most of the materials for these handy! This post contains affiliate links and was originally published in November 2017.
This post contains affiliate links.
I have a personal craft challenge that I like to do all by myself. I choose a random material and see what I can make with it. It’s a really simple challenge, and a great craft room purge.
It’s also great for when you’re looking to repurpose and make use of what you have.
Below, you’ll find things to make with unusual materials, with recyclables and trash, with craft scraps, and nature crafts.
In this post, you’ll find links to lists that use a specific material. The challenge: use this post as your prompts/challenges. I’ll include some thought starters within this post and then click through to that material for specific ideas.
Things to Make with Unusual Household Materials
Sometimes you just need to think a bit further than your craft closet! And sometimes inspiration can be found in your craft closet… but not in the way you think.
Material #1: Nail Polish
My long-time favorite, nail polish crafts are a score mainly because it’s so much fun to paint and cover surfaces with a little polish… But they also make for a very hard-wearing paint.
When looking for things to make with nail polish think: updated fashion accessories, things that look great with a glossy, hard-wearing finish. You’ll find that nail polish chips much less when you’re not washing dishes with this – I have it last on updated jewelry for years!
Tip: buy cheap assortment packs from inexpensive brands.
Material #2: Balloons
From decorated balloons, to making use of the flexible rubber sheet that you get from dismantling a balloon, you get surprising possibilities. There’s really no specific direction to take when brainstorming things to make – some balloon crafts even just enjoy the bright colors that balloons come in.
Material #3: Drinking Straws
Between plastic straws and paper straws, you really have lots of possibilities for things to make with straws. You’ll want to go for a better quality straw when crafting with them if you want your craft to last. Some cheaper options can be quite flimsy.
Of course, you can start with beads – and they don’t need to look like a toddler made them. Wrap them with string, spray paint them, make ’em look cool!
Material #4: Pool Noodles
First of all, they float – so they’re fantastic for water toys or activities. They are also easy to cut with a knife but have a big, solid form, making them fantastic for easy large-scale projects.
But there’s lots more so check out the full list of pool noodle crafts and activities!
Material #5: Clothespins
Clothespins are so versatile for crafting, they’ve become a staple in my craft room! First of all, I use them as a “clamp” to secure glued projects until they set.
As for things to make with clothespins, my favorite is puppets with mouths that open and close (I’ve made a few styles of clothespin puppets) but you can make all sorts of cool crafts for kids and grown ups.
Material #6: Zippers
Colorful zippers make a cool craft supply beyond sewing, and one of the ways I’ve challenged myself was to find things to make with zippers that are somewhat unusual.
I’ve made three different types of bracelets but beyond jewelry , there’s more you can do with zippers! Think of them as a glorified strip of ribbon with a little edge. I stock up on colorful zippers and keep them handy in my craft room as a non-sewing craft supply.
Crafts made with Recyclables and Trash
Instead of throwing it out, why not craft with it? These super cool things to make use materials that would otherwise probably go right into the garbage bin. Some of them might be recycled, but the most eco-friendly solution is to turn them into something new!
And the best part? These craft supplies are F.R.E.E.
One of my first regular-stock supplies, baby food jars come in a small size that’s unique. When M was a baby, I used a lot of baby food and so we emptied a few jars a day. I saved loads of these for crafting.
While lots of these crafts can be made with full-size jars, many make use of the small size. Think first of storage solutions, then globes, candle holders and more!
Material #8: Promotional magnets
You know those business card magnets that you might have plastered all over your fridge? While slightly less versatile than other recyclables, they’re still free and make fantastic magnets for lightweight crafts.
I’ve even used these to turn printables into magnetic toys for the kids.
Material #9: CDs and DVDs
When decluttering and scaling down, one of the big steps is to go digital with all media. That means backing up movies, home movies, old music and more on more compact high-capacity media, or even on the cloud.
That leaves loads of CDs and DVDs to be thrown out… or used! The best things to make with these are those that make use of the iridescent back or translucency. We’ve done scratch art that shows the beautiful back. We’ve also made use of the fact that it’s a hard plastic surface for other art projects.
Material #10: Wine Corks
Ah… wine corks! It’s one of those things that we, as savvy crafters, impulsively tend to save without really knowing what we’re gonna do with them.
They are from the more versatile materials, with things to make ranging from magnets (they’re lightweight so don’t require very strong magnets to back them) to jewelry. Some people like saving a lot and making larger scale projects, like cork boards.
Material #11: Cardboard tubes
For sanitary reasons, you may want to remove these before you use the roll, or stick to paper towel tubes. Either way, there’s no need for me to elaborate on how useful these are. But you might not realize that cardboard tube crafts does not end with kids’ character crafts.
I’ve seen these repurposed into gift boxes a lot, but my favorite is a pencil pouch I made from cardboard tubes. Ultimately, you’ll probably want to focus on the cylindrical shape and challenge yourself with things to make from there.
Material #12: Bottle Caps
Confession: I hoard bottle caps. And I’m far from done crafting with these. But for now, I’ll share with you two tips for brainstorming things to make with both plastic and metal bottle caps:
- Think small and sturdy – so crafts like magnets and jewelry are a score
- Round shape and a solid material. Use it in DIY toys, or use the round shape as a starting point for art.
Material #13: Old jeans
While most fabrics can be repurposed into smaller-scale fabric projects, denim is especially sturdy and upcyclable.
Think jewelry, covers for smaller crafts, and patchwork ideas. But the possibilities don’t end there.
Want to learn how to make jewelry out of anything? Get the book!
Use up craft scraps and your craft room stash
Are you a scrap hoarder too? I know I am…
Bust your scrap stash with these cool things to make with scraps and leftovers. Or, make something unique with more common crafting materials that you aready have, to clear out some space for that new hobby.
Material #14: Felt scraps
Believe it or not, I sometimes buy my felt in scrap sizes because so many projects call for small amounts of different colors.
Many things to make with felt crafts fall in the toy category, but kids’ fashion and costume appliques are a great idea too! And there’s more!
Material #15: Ribbon Scraps
I actually buy scrap packs of ribbons to begin with, because you can get such a good variety in those! But even if you simply collect from gift packs or have leftovers from things you’ve done, there are endless things to make with ribbon scraps.
First, group them by color family so that you have a better handle on making aesthetically-pleasing, scrappy projects. Then you can weave them, tie them, and sew them. You can make sensory toys, home decor, and even bookmarks.
Material #16: Colored coloring pages
Coloring intricate pages can be so cathartic but what do you do with them when you finish? Besides for accidentally wallpapering your craft room, of course…
First of all, they can be repurposed as a craft paper, preferably in a craft where the paper takes center stage. You can also cut out your favorite elements and use those in crafts.
Material #17: Crayons
Besides for all those broken crayon stubs, we’ve also had circumstances where we just had extra. Once it was a cheap pack that we started using before we gave up and got some Crayola. Another time, someone bought my kids huge art cases and they stopped using the assorted packs they had.
Regardless, crayons make a fantastic craft supply beyond their obvious mission. They are sometimes melted down and used as a dye of sorts, and sometimes the fun, artsy look of crayons is enjoyed as the main decorative element.
Material #18: Beads
Here’s the deal: I used to make LOADS of jewelry. And while I still do, it’s not my main craft. Back in the day, if I was crafting, I was making bling – other things were the exception. So I was left with lots of beads when my jewelry pace slowed.
For that reason I challenged myself to find things to make with beads that AREN’T jewelry.
Beads can be glued onto a variety of crafts as embellishments. There are also more bead-n-string/wire/chenille stem ideas that aren’t wearable.
Material #19: Craft Sticks
Not just for kids, these wooden popsicle sticks are so awesome!
Material #20: Scrapbook paper
And finally, if you’re like me and love exploring pretty papers… and then get stuck with loads you need to purge, you’ll want new things to make with scrapbook paper (besides scrapbooks).
Paper crafts are a favorite of mine, and all of these ideas make great use of the pretty patterns. You can decoupage scrapbook paper, fold it, or make wall art with it. There are so many FUNCTIONAL things to make with your scrapbook paper.
Things to Make with Nature
Some of my favorite craft materials can be found for free in nature. Even better: they are sometimes collected from a favorite trip to a special place, making them nostalgic too..
Here are some cool things to make with these natural treasures. If you use a lot of these you might prefer to pick up more at your local craft store but otherwise they’re free.
Material #21: Rocks
Rock painting has majorly taken off lately, but besides for that there are many things to make with rocks.
I’ve used them in jewelry making and I’ve seen them used as mosaics in outdoor crafts, as garden decor, and more.
Material #22: Seashells
But of course. Collect these on your trips and turn them into keepsakes. Paint ’em. Embellish with them. The possibilities are endless.
Not on this list: my mom used to use a large one as an ashtray.
This list is far from done.
First of all, I’ve also made things with toy animals – totally out of the box.
Second, I still have a long list of materials to challenge myself with including:
- Coffee filters
- Twigs and sticks
- Paper clips
- Nail polish bottles
- Pasta sauce jars
- Wine bottles
- Milk jugs
- Fabric scraps
- Wooden cubes
- Lego bricks
- Chenille stems
- Cardboard boxes
- Yarn leftovers
As you can see, if you think outside the box a little, there are so many things you can make with the things you already have in hour home! I’d love to hear some of your favorite ideas.
What are your favorite things to make? Which odd material/craft combos do you love? Comment below!
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