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With Earth Day just around the corner, this is a great time to consider how we can all be more conscientious about how we use resources. While it may not seem like an obvious Earth Day choice, good ol' plastic-based polymer clay can be part of some wonderful reuse & recycle projects. Here's 10 things you can save from the landfill & use with polymer clay:

  1. Light BulbLight Bulbs: Are you replacing your old light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescents? Don't throw those old ones out! Cover them with polymer clay to make a lovely rounded base for any sculpture.
  2. Plastic Easter Eggs: Polymer clay-covered eggs are all the rage, but you don't necessarily have to cover a real egg. You'll want to test yours first, but some plastic Easter eggs are oven-safe. This means you can use your leftover eggs -- which seem to multiply faster than Easter bunnies this time of year -- for your polymer clay egg projects. Check out It's Jest 'er Clay for one creative "eggs-ample" of egg covering.
  3. Bottles to coverBottles & Jars: Glass bottles are wonderful for covering with polymer clay, whether you're making a Bottle of Hope or a votive holder. Try incorporating translucent clay into your design if you're doing candle holders, lampshades, nightlights, etc. The light shining through will give it a whole new dimension.
  4. Wooden Boxes: Thrift stores and yard sales often offer unwanted jewelry and trinket boxes. Snatch them up! Depending on the condition, you may have to do some sanding and/or repair work, and wood often needs to be baked before covering with clay to remove excess moisture. Afterwards, just cover it with clay to make your own unique treasure box.
  5. Cardboard TubeCardboard Tubes & Boxes: Paper towel & toilet paper rolls can be great when you need a rounded section in a sculpture. Other cardboard shapes work well too -- for example, matchboxes are are a popular base for small pendants that slide open.
  6. Mint Tins & Tin Cans Mint Tins & Tin Cans: Mint tins are simple to cover and great for carrying small items in a purse. Pet food & canned meat/fish also come in small, easy-to-cover cans.
  7. Can LidsCan Lids: Speaking of cans, can lids can be a cool base for magnets, holiday ornaments, and more. Look for a can opener (such as the Handy Can Opener) that takes off the entire top of the lid, leaving no jagged edges.
  8. Bottle CapsBottle Caps: Don't toss those bottle caps! Use them with polymer clay to make jewelry, magnets & more. If you don't drink anything that comes with bottle caps, you can probably find pre-smashed bottle caps on the side of the road. (You get bonus points for recycling and cleaning up the neighborhood!)
  9. Scrap Paper NotepadScrap Paper: Use polymer clay to turn your scrap paper into a sturdy polymer clay notepad.
  10. Recycled FrameFrames: Garage sales & thrift stores are full of frames that have seen their better days. Fix them up with a little polymer clay. They'll be better than new!

Stay tuned for more earth-friendly polymer clay ideas between now and the big day! In the meantime, I'd love to hear your suggestions for an Earth Day-worthy polymer clay project.


What great ideas! Checked out the It's Jest'er Clay site and man what great stuff there! Thanks for all the great info Angela.

thanks for the wonderful post
I wanted to share with you my gallery of big ladies all sculpted on a refurbished light bulbs

Right on! Great to see! Am getting ready to do exactly that as there is a market with festivities planned for Earth Day in our area. Reuse and recycle is definitely on my agenda....with polymer clay attached, lol. I love the frames!

Thanks for the comments, ladies.

Cindy: I'm so glad you enjoyed the It's Jest 'er Clay site. Linda does such interesting things -- and she's a wonderful person, too!
Naama: I *love* your light bulb ladies! They all have such character, & I like that it's not obvious they're built on bulbs! Thanks for the link.
Tina: I'd love to see what you put together for the Earth Day festivities -- it sounds like fun!

can polymer clay be reconstitued when it gets hard in the package?

Good question, Linda. The answer is, it depends. If it's just old, then putting it in a (clay-dedicated) food processor with a drop or two of mineral oil should do the trick. If it's been partially baked, though (such as in the delivery truck on its way to the store), then there's no way to re-constitute it. But you can find uses for even partially-baked clay -- I've seen folks recommend using partially-baked clay, chopped into bits, as inclusions for faux rocks among other things.

Here's a blog post with more info on recycling clay: More Recycling Tips for Polymer Clay.

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CraftyGoat's Notes is all about sharing polymer clay tips & tricks that have worked for me. (And even a few that haven't!)

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