If the idea of going to the mall and shopping for presents this year fills you with dread, one alternative is to make your own gifts. While craft and art supply stores can sometimes be a little pricey (especially this time of year), you'd be surprised by the cool things you can make using odds and ends from around the house, thrift stores, or at a cool little shop on Saint Clair Avenue in St. Paul called ArtScraps
The ArtScraps store is a project of ArtStart, a nonprofit that provides arts education programming at schools and in the community. ArtScraps collects scraps, overstocks, and factory rejects and sells them cheaply to artists--or anyone who likes to make things.
Carol Sirrine, executive director for ArtStart, says that when people walk into the store for the first time, they have one of two reactions: Either they walk in, turn around, and leave because they are overwhelmed, or they walk in and explore until somewhere along the way, they have an "Aha!" moment.
It might not be obvious at first what anyone would want with a box full of baby food jars. Well, it turns out you can turn them into snow globes. You can glue a recycled plastic figurine to the bottom with some simple putty, fill the jar with water, throw in some glitter, and voila! A snow globe.
Another idea is to make a handmade purse using recycled upholstery samples. Or you could make a cool brooch or a hair pin out of old buttons from vintage winter coats. Got a bunch of bottle caps lying around? Just draw an image on a piece of paper, stick it on the bottle cap and spread some resin on it. Hot glue it on a recycled magnet (which you can buy at ArtScraps) or hot glue it to a pin.
Artscraps also has tons of reused papers and boxes. Just use your imagination to make a pretty box for gifts, decorating them with collages of colorful paper and stamps.
Other materials available at ArtScraps at a given day include tennis balls, plastic tubing, trophy parts, plastic spoons, CDs, wood pieces, rocks, cork, used slides, and more. With a little imagination, the possibility are endless. You can also seek help from the staff, or visiting artists in the store.
And when you give out your gifts, you can be happy because you're limiting waste and offering something unique. Check out the video below to get some more gift ideas- including a wreath made out of corks and a chandelier made out of recycled slides.
ArtStart is located at 1459 St. Clair Avenue in St. Paul. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and are open until 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. For more info, visit www.artstart.org