Never heard of it? The summertime kid art fun called “Backyard Art Camp” dreamed up by Jane of Buzzmills and Melissa of A Happy Stitch has a clever theme this year. Crafts and art made with repurposed materials. Cool right? Less trips to the craft store with my kids is always a plus. Digging in the trash or the bookshelves or the junk drawer is way better. We bring a special flavor of chaos and noise to any store with craft supplies, and there always seem to be old ladies who brought their judgmental faces to shop with them.
I was tasked by Jane with coming up with a few books that may inspire you and your kids towards reuseum worthy activities, so here I give you my Girl Like The Sea curated bunch of inspiring art books
Starting with the super obvious, I have a book called Recycled Crafts Box. Duh. Straight up trash to treasure projects that actually sound like a lot of fun.
For a different theme, you can go with Recycled Robots. You can make robots that actually move because the book comes with a kit that supplies you with things like a motor that will get you going faster than if you had to figure out those parts yourself. Pretty cool!
Project Kid has all sorts of repurposed activities to be done with kids, like envelopes made with old book jackets and a sock rocket. The end results of many of the projects are a bit goofy looking, but it’s pretty realistic considering they’re meant to be done by kids. Lol! The paint chip backed melissa and doug wooden box shelf is pretty neat IMO.
Tinkerlab isn’t a strictly repurposed craft book, but there are several ideas and major inspiration for supplying your kids with interesting things to create with.
I haven’t seen the Paper Playhouse in person, but I’m totally wishlisting it. Here’s the description:
Artist Katrina Rodabaugh shares her artistic training and up-cycling sensibility in this unique and inspired book, The Paper Playhouse. With simple techniques including sculpture, printmaking, bookbinding, collage, and even ideas for public art, families work through step-by-step instructions while using imagination and budding aesthetics. This book goes beyond the typical paper craft project to include contemporary design references like Mid-Century Modern dollhouses, VW buses, paper monsters, costumes and masks, and the classic lemonade stand–all made with unique style and flair! Focused around surprising and easily accessibly materials like shipping boxes, shoeboxes, junk mail envelopes, newspapers, maps, found books, and other paper ephemera, and with stunning photography by Leslie Sophia Lindell, The Paper Playhouse has 22 projects aimed at inspiring children to create amazing paper crafts
Not really a “craft” book, Loose Parts does give you ideas for giving your kids collections of parts to be creative and imaginative with. Open ended play and creating!
Another of the books on my haven’t seen it but want it list is Playful.
Here’s the description: Perfect for after school or a rainy Sunday, Playful is a charming collection of 26 unique, modern projects for adults to make with and for young children. Divided into five categories—Playful Dress Up, Playful Toys, Playful Paper Crafts, Playful Repurposing, and Playful Art—the low-skill, high-style, low-cost projects include a tiger piñata, a parade of paper puppets, and a dollhouse made out of cardboard and bright duct tape. Sweet and straightforward, this enchanting book is sure to inspire many happy, colorful hours of making—and make-believe—among adults and the children they love.
The aesthetic looks gorgeous!
Going a little out there for a recycled theme, but whatever, is Nature’s Art Box.
From the description: In Nature’s Art Box, writer, gardener, and nature-crafter Laura Martin offers 65 fun projects kids will love to make, using materials they can find just about anywhere. She explains how to make paints and inks from flowers and other plants; how to use shells, moss, seedpods, and cones to embellish large objects; how to build elf-sized furniture; how to decorate picture frames, birdhouses, and keepsake boxes with woodland treasures; and how to dig clay, weave vines, and make natural dyes to color T-shirts.
Getting even more creative with my inspiration sources, I’m throwing The Incredible Book Eating Boy out there. Not a craft book obviously, but each page has artwork that’s been done over old pages from books, or even books themselves. It’s a resource for inspiration in how you can transform or reuse old books or things from the thrift store. Of course I’ll always be disappointed that my art doesn’t come out look like Oliver Jeffers’. Waaaah. He’s a major family favorite here. I have an art crush on him.
And one more out there suggestion for you is a book called Mouse Mansion. We’ve spend so much time poring over the tiny mouse sized stuff in each of the scenes in this book, and without fail, my oldest will be chomping at the bit to make her own mouse sized stuff out of things we have. Last time we were bundling tiny newspapers. Maybe we can combine some of the cardboard house skills from one of the other books, we can make our own mansion for little mice.
I hope you’ve gotten a bit of inspiration from my roundup of repurposed crafty books.