Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Recycled Art Canvases

This summer the kids thought it would be fun to have an art show before school starts back up. They are working on different types of projects each week and learning new techniques. Since the idea for the show was not planned for, neither was a budget. In an effort not to stifle creativity, and keep an eye on the wallet I came up with some guidelines for their materials. I will fund any project (without exorbitant costs) if:
  • All previous projects are 100% complete before moving on. I am going to try this myself, because I notoriously have several unfinished things "going" at once. They are welcome to start something else while their paint dries, but the materials must be on hand.
  • They must dig through the recycle bin, goodwill bag, or house for materials first. If they find something they want to use, they must make use of it in a timely fashion so we don't have a mountain of recycling clutter.
  • They have to try hard and have fun! After that, I will pick up whatever materials they need.
I have seen several posts recently reminding me about using old cereal boxes as art canvases. That fits with our art show plans beautifully! Below I have compared three variations of this upcycled art supply.

  • Great coverage
  • Labor intensive, but easy
  • Uses more supplies
  • Good texture
  • No waste
I used newsprint we had on hand instead of tearing out book pages and I am pleased with the result of it. It did however take quite a bit of time between seaming the edges, tearing the paper, and adhering with ModPodge. In the grand scheme of DIY, the labor is minimal, but by comparison to the other canvases, too much work. Let's paint already!


  • Great coverage
  • No texture
  • Smelly - it must be done outside
  • Minimal time and effort
  • Waste from spray can
I already had spray paint and it was by far the shortest and best covering method. The drying time was shorter, but it smells terrible. Because of this, you are bound by the weather as to when you make it and you end up with an empty paint can at some point, but if you are in a hurry this will do.

  • Thin coverage
  • Good texture with brush or roller
  • Takes more time
  • Minimal waste
  • Easy peasy
Obviously, this one will need several more coats of paint since I used craft paint instead of wall paint primer, but I had every supply on hand and it was cathartic brushing the paint on. No good for a time crunch though.

I will probably use a mix of the three canvases to offer more variety to the kids. I won't buy any spray paint for this project, but rather use what is in the house to keep the cost and the smell down. I believe I favor option three the most, for its therapeutic qualities. Have a great afternoon! ~ OP


  1. Great idea. I am excited to see how it all turns out. Would you be willing to share on my site? my full site is located at where I feature recycle artists,project ideas, and events but I am in the process of changing it all over to the ning format. -Tammy.

  2. Thank you Tammy! I have emailed you back.