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16 Unconventional Craft Supplies that are Free or Cheap

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Crafting need not be expensive, if you know how to think “outside the box” with your craft supplies. Here is a list of unconventional craft supplies that range from free to relatively inexpensive, that you may want to stock in your craft cabinet. Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

 

You will absolutely love this fun list of unconventional craft supplies that are easy and cheap to stock! And it also includes lots of crafts to make with them (including plenty of upcycled crafts)

 

16 unconventional craft supplies: 

 

1. Nail polish

It’s hard wearing, fast-drying, easy to apply in careful detail, and gives a beautiful, enameled finish. I put together a beautiful list of crafts using nail polish for inspiration!

 

DIY enameled spoons

 

Note: make sure your room is well-ventilated.

 

2. Old makeup

Whether you’re done with it, or the color was just wrong, your old makeup can be great for coloring things. Check out this amazing lipstick process art for kids!

 

Lipstick, eyeliners, and anything with rich pigments work too! You can even upcycle old mascara as a great textured paint brush.

 

3. Nature: Twigs, leaves, flowers, shell, and rocks

Nature provides us with some of the most beautiful craft supplies. From gorgeous seashell necklaces to a nature-inspired entry organizer, these eco-friendly craft supplies are totally free!

 

Make sure to always have a few handy in your supply closet… I put together a beautiful list of nature-sourced craft supplies for you to enjoy, along with some inspiration.

 

You will absolutely love this fun list of unconventional craft supplies that are easy and cheap to stock! And it also includes lots of crafts to make with them (including plenty of upcycled crafts)

 

4. Straws

Something that was formerly limited to toddler beading, this new-ish craft supply should now be a staple! Paper straws look totally cool in any craft, but these photo booth props are totally awesome!

 

5. Isolated game parts:Lego, puzzle pieces, etc.

Lego pieces are perfect for making fan crafts, and puzzle pieces are good for anything, such as this fun tree! Instead of chucking these orphaned bits, stow them in a container in your craft room.

 

You will absolutely love this fun list of unconventional craft supplies that are easy and cheap to stock! And it also includes lots of crafts to make with them (including plenty of upcycled crafts)

 

6. CDs

Time to back up your old CD’s and store them digitally! There is really no point in having those old things around, especially if you’re looking to declutter… unless you’re a crafter! With the iridescent surface, and the durable shape, they make a great starting points for kids’ crafts. Try out these simple, but pretty doodle discs, too!

 

Here’s a great list of crafts using CDs, including the fun craft below.

 

Note: watch for sharp edges when crafting with kids.

 

Upcycle old CDs and DVDs as doodle discs! Such a fun, easy craft for kids and adults of all ages!

 

7. Crayons

These are most likely a staple in your craft room – but do you use them in the craft itself? They are great for kids crafts, like this crayon initial art, and as a sensory activity, like this crayon play dough.

 

8. A bleach pen

If you love making crafts with fabrics, a bleach pen is a staple too. It allows you to create effects with bleach, only it gives you more control. Check out how cool this owl shirt is!

 

Note: You should probably not use this in kids’ crafts 😉


 

9.  Rubbing alcohol/nail polish remover

Sharpies may be an obvious craft supply, but its close relative, the blending component isn’t. Check out how cheap nail polish remover made this rainbow onesie into the beauty it is.

 

Bonus: nail polish remover works wonders on removing craft-related “oopsies” from your furniture.

 

DIY Rainbow Onesie Baby Shower Gift Idea

 

Note: use in a well-ventilated area.

 

10. Pool noodles

These are so versatile, and inexpensive, especially for larger scale crafts such as this garland or this sign stand. Get them at your local dollar store. Here are lots more things you can do with pool noodles: 

 

'Tis the season of stores overrun with pool noodles, cheaper by the dozen, and so the time to look into pool noodle crafts and activities to try!

 

12. Recyclables: cardboard tubes, glass jars, tin cans

My craft supply storage looks almost like a recycling bin! These are some of the most versatile and cheapest (or free) crafting supplies! I’ve made planters, a menorah, toys, and more out of things that normally get recycled.

 

These adorable denim flower patches will can be used for anything like knapsacks or headbands. Use promotional magnets to make things like car magnets, or these Earth magnets.

 

 

13. Metal bits: washers, old keys, zippers

These bits of “junk” can be treasures when crafting, especially when making jewelry. I love how this fidget spinner case incorporates a zipper as the handle!

 

 

14. Paint chips

The uses for these little bits of color are endless! I used them on the ears of a Pooh costume, and they can be used in mosaics, mobiles, etc. Since they are free, and come in every single shade imaginable, the possibilities are endless. They are perfect for ombre crafts, such as this garland, too!

 

15. PVC piping

Martha Stewart uses these a lot, and while PVC pipe might not be the cheapest, it’s versatile and adds a new dimension to your supply closet. Some examples of medium-scale crafts using this include these vases and this water shooter toy.

 

16. Old books and maps

There’s something charming about the yellow pages of an old book, or the familiar pages of a children’s classic. There’s something adventurous about the pattern of a map. Instead of throwing out those you’re done with, use them in crafts. Here is an adorable garland to get you started. Scour Pinterest for countless book crafts too.

 

You will absolutely love this fun list of unconventional craft supplies that are easy and cheap to stock! And it also includes lots of crafts to make with them (including plenty of upcycled crafts)

 

If you loved these, you may find inspiration in my “DIY – Upcycle it!” board on Pinterest, where I share loads of crafts from around the web made using upcycled materials.

 

Follow Moms and Crafters’s board DIY – Upcycle It! on Pinterest.

 

What unconventional craft supplies do you love to craft with? Share in the comments below! 

 

 

You will absolutely love this fun list of unconventional craft supplies that are easy and cheap to stock! And it also includes lots of crafts to make with them (including plenty of upcycled crafts)

 

This post was originally published March 2015.

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Robin

Friday 26th of February 2021

There are some neat ideas you have. Will b looking into further ideas with you! Great job!

Scarlet

Monday 19th of August 2019

This is a great list of free or cheap craft supplies you might have on hand. I am going to link to this from my post today. I pinned it too. Thanks for the great ideas.

Lori bates

Wednesday 6th of June 2018

I love to do craft I'm over 50 years old and really enjoy it I have some craft stuff I have made Dream catchers.

Linda Thompson

Tuesday 20th of June 2017

Styrofoam meat trays or plates are also treasures. I use mine for mixing my oil paints. I can put them in zip lock bags and store them in the freezer between painting sessions, and throw them away when my painting is done. They are also useful for holding puddles of glue for crafts, and sorting small objects such as beads. I have also cut out simple patterns such as stars, hearts, etc., that I wanted to use repeatedly in a project. I'm sure I've used them in many other ways, but those are the ones that come to mind immediately. Happy crafting!!

Menucha @ Moms & Crafters

Tuesday 20th of June 2017

Great ideas! I love the idea of using them in place of craft foam for shapes. Adds a bit of creativity to the process...

Margaret Owen-Trowbridge

Friday 17th of March 2017

Other inexpensive tools: My favorite art is making jewelry - actually wire wrapping stones and designing wire changes. I found a rock tumbler in the "kid's section" at Hobby Lobby. I could not afford a normal "Tumbler" but I did buy the kid's one - it worked great - I made wonderful pendants to sell. My son also found a light table at the toy department at Walmart. He is an artist and it helps him with is design ideas. I love the list you posted - I and my husband are on Soc Sec, we budget everything. This Trowbridge family are all artists (have won award locally and nationally) - being retired and on a tight budget should not stop us from still having fun with our art.

Menucha @ Moms & Crafters

Tuesday 21st of March 2017

Those are great ideas! And I'm glad you enjoyed my list :)