Art Projects Made Out of Recycled Material

Written by leah james
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Art Projects Made Out of Recycled Material
Recycle newspaper for papier-mache art projects. (Newspaper image by huimin from

When school budgets shrink, fine arts departments are frequently among the first to feel the loss. Art projects require supplies, and those supplies sometimes come at a premium price Though teachers can supplement their budgets by fund-raising, they can also supplement their supply closets by recycling non-traditional materials to use in art projects.

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Scrap Weavings

When scrap weaving, students use basic under-and-over weaving to make wall hangings from recycled scraps and found objects from nature. For the warp, yarn or string is looped over a fallen branch broken into two equal lengths. In "School Arts" magazine, Kathryn Granchelli suggests 15 warp threads for 12-inch branches. With the branches taped to the work table to keep the warp threads taunt, have the students weave in flexible items like fabric and paper scraps, string, yarn, feathers, plastic-coated wire or broken bead strands. Once the weavings are finished, let your students add buttons, shells, beads or bits of broken jewellery for embellishment.

Pantyhose Sculpture

Your students can turn worn pantyhose, discarded wire coat hangers and scrap wood into sophisticated sculpture. To make the bases, drill two holes into each wood scrap. Have your students untwist wire hangers and insert the ends into the holes. Show them how to twist and shape the wire into abstract organic shapes, and then stretch hosiery over the wire and the base. To make the sculptures solid, cover them with at least five coats of a 3:1 craft glue and water mixture; let the glue dry between each coat. Paint the sculptures, base and all, once the final layer of glue dries. Metallic colours and black look best, according to middle school art teacher Lyn Kirksey.

Papier-Mache Carnival Masks

Share photos of Puerto Rican carnival masks to inspire your students to make their own papier-mache masks from recycled newspaper. You don't need to buy wig forms. Just wad newspaper sheets into balls 2 inches bigger all around than each student's head, suggests Socorrito Diaz in School Arts magazine. Cover the balls with aluminium foil to keep the papier-mache from sticking to them. To make the mask, have the students dip torn pieces of newspaper into a glue and water mixture, and then layer them on all but the backs of the foil-covered balls. After the glue dries and you've removed the ball from the mask, cut eye holes and trim the edges. Students can embellish their masks with horns, beaks, flowers or foliage also made of papier-mache. When the masks are finished, give them a bright coat of base paint and some contrasting dots and swirls, followed by a coat of varnish for shine.

Scratch Paper Sketches

Instead of buying pricey scratch paper from an art supply shop, teach your students how to make their own from used copy paper, cardboard or any other paper with a matt finish. Have them use broken crayons to completely cover the paper with bold splotches of colour, and then paint over the crayon with black tempera paint. Kirksey recommends adding a squirt or two of liquid hand soap to keep the wax in the crayons from resisting the paint. After the paint dries, your students can scratch their sketches onto the paper with bits of broken wire to reveal the rainbow of colours beneath.

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