Creating pretty things for your home is fun and magical. But art supplies can be expensive.
So what if you are on a budget and can't justify buying all the pretty things? You shouldn't have to wait to create a few pretty pieces for your home.
One of my favorite ways to collect a few free art supplies is by taking nature walks. You don't even have to be too far out in nature to find some wonderful treasures.
Hunting for natural craft supplies can be a fun experience to share with your kids too! You can easily combine science and creativity while enjoying some fresh air and exercise.
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You probably won't have to look farther than your bird feeder to find a few excellent feathers. Check around ponds and lakes for duck and geese feathers.
When you find perfect feathers, they are excellent trim for ornaments such as dreamcatchers. They also look beautiful stuck into floral arrangements.
Feathers that aren't perfect can be used for painting to create marbling and other textures. Smaller ones are fun for kid craft projects such as mask making.
Call them rocks, stones or pebbles...nature is full of them. And right now, painting on rocks is a thing. (I hope it stays a thing too, because I think they are so beautiful!)
Unpainted rocks have tons of uses too, especially if you like having natural textures (and colors) in your decor.
- Glue them to any container
- Use them to fill flower vases
- Lay them like mosaic tile for table or counter tops
- Drill holes in them for jewelry or incense holders
- Glue around photo frames or mirrors
- Use them to create fairy garden structures
- Add them to aquariums for more realistic scenery
Real leaves won't last forever, but they can still be used for seasonal crafts.
Colorful autumn leaves are perfect for photo props. They also look best (right off the tree) for Halloween or Thanksgiving wreaths and decor.
Green leaves make great stamps for inks or watercolor. Since no two leaves are identical, you will always having something unique. Add leaf stamps to stationery, seasonal decor, signs, tablecloths, clothing, and canvases.
When you are done with them, use them for temporary stuffing inside fabric or plastic holiday items such as pumpkins.
People have been drying and preserving flowers for centuries to use in crafts. Fragrant flowers make excellent potpourri, while delicate flowers can be placed in shadowboxes. There is even a technique where "sappy" flowers are beaten to leave an impression on fabric.
And of course, dried flowers can be decoupaged to decorative items. They are often placed in a vase to simply be enjoyed too.
If you have your own flower beds, then you will never have to buy a dried flower. If not, look along the roadsides for festive wildflowers.
Dried flower seeds can also be used for making delicate art and collages. Collect seeds as the flowers start to die at the end of summer, dry them, and use them for crafts all winter.
(Here is my tutorial for making your own seed envelopes.)
Twiggy branches are used for everything from floral arrangements to building doll furniture. They can be cut, glued, painted, bent and woven to create endless crafts.
Of my favorite twig crafts is to make miniature Halloween trees. Just find a bare twig with several branches, spray paint orange or black, and decorate with miniature Halloween shapes and figurines.
(Tip! It's hard to find tiny Halloween ornaments, but many of the novelty toys sold in the dollar store are just the right size. Erasers are super easy to thread with a sharp needle and look just like ornaments on your little tree!)
Shells are used frequently to create wind chimes and to add decorative touches to candle platters. Large shells are used alone for "beachy" decor.
Shells are a bit trickier than other natural craft supplies. If you don't live near a beach, then you are probably going to have to buy seashells. However, there are some lovely varieties of freshwater shells too.
Don't neglect to look under wet stones and rotten logs. Here you can sometimes find incredibly delicate snail shells.
Shells can also be painted, like rocks, and glued to a variety of items.
Moss is everywhere!
Depending on where you live, you might not be able to find certain types of moss. But anywhere there is a shady moist area, you are sure to have some moss.
- Living art
- Filling out flower arrangements
- Adding some texture to succulent planters
- Holiday projects
- Fairy gardens
Tip: Dried moss dipped in paint creates a unique texture when you use it to "sponge" and item. It will shed into the paint though, but that adds to the charm.
Gather several coils of vines for making wreaths. They look good in their natural state or spray painted. If you are patient (and dedicated), they can be coiled to create baskets (or glued over a bucket to create a "faux" basket).
Just be careful not to grab poison ivy!
Nuts are another cute addition to holiday decor.
Acorns are especially abundant just about everywhere.
Once you have collected them, bake them on the lowest setting for about 15 minutes to sterilize them and kill any insects that might be hiding inside.
Nuts can be used to fill decorative bowls and vases, to glue onto wreaths, to add to fairly gardens, and as garlands. (if you have the patience to drill all those holes!) If you like miniatures, acorns can be painted to resemble whimsical little people or animals, too!
Raffia, broom, straw...dried grass is a common element in certain decorating themes. You can use it to fill vases, layer baskets, or to make bows. It is commonly seen on wreaths too.
Not all dried grass will be equal. But if you look along the sides of the road, you can often find tall wild grasses that will dry and be quite flexible.
Dried grass can also be used to make a "paint brush". Dip it in acrylics, watercolors or inks to make unique textures.
Why would you want sand? It makes a lovely addition to any natural theme! It can also be dyed or painted to fill a vase. Sand added to paint creates a coarse, stone-like texture.
It is also fun for kid craft projects.
Look for sand near any creek, river, or lake.
If you walk often, and you are very vigilant, there are tons of other interesting things you can find. Here are few other things to look for that could be added to your craft supplies:
- Egg shells
- Turtle shells
- Animal teeth
- Wood knots (polished, these make beautiful abstract sculptures.)
- Hollow, woody stalks
With a little glue, some paint, and some help from the great outdoors, you can find tons of budget-friendly craft projects to dress up your home decor and your holidays this year!