Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Great Repurposing of December 26th

I am a clearance rack scrounger, an archaeologist of the scratch-and-dent aisle, always looking for a way to reuse some 80% off castoff into something nifty. Natually...I love after-Christmas decoration sales.

The other day, I happened upon a blog post detailing an awesome tutorial for using shatterproof tree balls to make Victorian hot air balloon decorations.

Clever idea and, considering come Monday, the main component of this project will be on deep discount, it's a really inexpensive one too! I can just imagine one of these dangling in a bell jar (or in one of those 1990s glass candle holders turned upside down. These seem to pop up with some regularity at my local thrifts) as a steampunk decoration on a shelf.

Martha over at Ornamento also posted some ideas for combining glass balls with polymer clay, fibers, and other items to create not-necessarily-Holiday ornaments.

Goodbye snowman! Hello posh frippery!

Skitzo Leezra Studio posted a few years ago about transforming a estate sale find tree skirt into a circle skirt for a child (which looks like it would be easily transferrable for a shorter skirt for an adult)

Jumping completely away from the Christmas look is this white flower lantern tutorial from CraftyNest. What a clever re-use of a fake pointsetta garland!

This started me thinking about what sort of repurposeable bits I look for when hitting the post-Holiday clearance section.

-Ribbon: Admittedly, the Christmas red plastic-backed "velvet" outdoor stuff is of limited use, but better made ribbon is a good find. I usually look for dark jewel tones or ivory, but non-Christmas-y shades of Holiday colors like deep burgundy or olive/forest tones work.

-White Lace: Whether paper, fabric, or tatted-looking, I consider whether I can cut it apart for usable portions and whether it will take a tea/coffee bath for a more antiqued shade.

-Decorations That Can Be Deconstructed: Can beads or glass cabochons be removed to use in other projects? If the starburst was clipped off with wire cutters and repainted, would it look midcentury modern?

-Broken Things: Is there anything usable/salvageable about the item if you look beyond it's original purpose? The porcelain angel may have a cracked head, but could the repaired head/limbs be used in an assemblage piece? The embroidered table runner may be stained, but does the remaining undamaged fabric justify the $5 price tag?

-Metal trays: Repainted or decoupaged with a hanger mounted on the back, these make great magnetic memo boards. Paint the inside surface of a deeper tray with chalkboard paint for a writeable board (the wall of the tray makes a good chalk rest).

-Holiday Paper Products: Sometimes just the 20 high quality envelopes are well worth the 90% off price of Christmas cards in January. Also, I look at wrapping paper and paper napkins as potential papercraft materials (For example, Hobby Lobby had some nifty black on black swirly design paper this year). While bright gold foiled paper might look pretty Holiday-specific, it would look less so if sponged with brown alcohol ink to mottle it (Same for silver foil and grey ink). Tissue paper is also high on my snag-able list for countless reasons.

-Random Tchotchkes: Often I look at the basic shape of things and figure out whether a good coat of paint (or sometimes stripping of paint) could un-Holiday them. If I unscrewed the hooks from the bottom of those cast iron fleur-de-lis stocking hangers and painted them black, I could have bookends! Stars and birds are frequently-used holiday decoration shapes and de-hollyfied, can be used year-round.

My best finds from last year were a few very nice Baroque-looking glass and silverplate cross ornaments that were marked down to 1/10th their original price. I combined these with my holy water and wolfsbane potion charms and "silver bullet" charms on a long silver-finish chain to make vampire and werewolf protection talismans for a local LARP convention.

How have you recycled something "Holiday" into art supplies? Please share!

Junkie handmade projects


  1. really interesting and useful blog post!

  2. One of the women in the Chicagoland costumers Guild made the headpiece and staff of her Snow Queen outfit from holiday decorations out of the clearance bin, deconstructed and repainted.

    I also pick up rolls of wrapping paper for a quarter and use the back for drafting custom pattern commissions - the glossy paper is heavy enough to withstand a bit of abuse and wrinkles can be ironed back out easily. Bonus if you find the kind with grid squares on the back!

  3. Wow, what a great post. Food for thought!

  4. Wonderful ideas! Thank you for sharing :)

  5. Great tips! I plan on doing a little post-Christmas clearance shopping myself this week, so I'll have to keep your ideas in mind.

  6. I love repurposed items and I do this myself. This is a good post. Thanks.

    Happiness and Abundance to ALL !

    PS I found you on etsy mmm team.
    Bright Blessings

  7. Great ideas, Moira! I love to repurpose and would not have thought of most of these!

  8. Great ideas! I'm in love with vintage Christmas wrapping paper. You've got me thinking about how I might repurpose it. Thanks!

    Here's my blog post about it, if you're interested:

  9. Great post to remember throughout the year, I try to remember to save birthday wrapping paper, bubble wrap, etc. all year long. My husband hates it but understands why I do it!
    Glad I found your blog via Etsy's Bloggers and Readers team :)


  10. ok, now you are seriously impressing me! Thanks for the list!

  11. You have some great ideas on what to look for! I am glad I had a chance to check out your blog.


  12. Great ideas to the get the creative juices flowing. I also like the ring design in your header.

  13. What a fabulous Blog Post! I have not taken part is sales these past holidays because I have so much in the past! Now, to get busy creating with all my great finds but, they are only great if I do something with them. Thanks for the inspiration and ideas for some of my things!

    I really hit the thrift stores for vintage clothing for just the bits of fabric, buttons, lace,etc. also.

    Now, I have the time to get busy! But, I need to stay inside. Our new cabin keeps me outside all the time. Onward!
    Smiles, Cyndi

  14. love your blog! Thanks for the great ideas! : )

  15. Love your post, thank you for sharing!

  16. Great post and thanks for sharing it at Socialcrafters.