By Christina VanGinkel
Altering common household items to create embellishments to scrap or make personalized cards with is a great way to stretch your craft budget. Many of the items that are easy to alter, often have an equivalent on the average scrapbook, or craft store shelf, but were first borrowed at home by some ingenious scrapper, to be transformed into the very product you see in the stores for busy scrappers. What so many of us overlook though, is that if we have the time and the tools, there is nothing wrong with creating our own counterparts today. Just because the embellishments are now available to buy in their already finished form, does not mean that we cannot still make them at home cheaper or even free. In addition, because we are altering the items ourselves, we can personalize the pieces in a manner that will fit our projects better than anything we could ever buy anyway, on top of saving money, which was often the motivation behind their original counterparts to begin with.
Bottle caps are one of the easiest and most fun things to alter. They can be painted, words can be stenciled or freehanded across them, you can use stickers directly on them, or they can even be used as is once they are flattened. I have seen them used as centers of flowers, with the flower petals doodled around the edges, as wheels in a layout, or just lined up in a row, spelling out a saying or name. Bottle caps are fun to use in various ways. I cringe when I see what some companies charge for them though, especially when they are so inexpensive to come buy and so incredibly easy to alter.
All you need is safety glasses, a rubber mallet, and somewhere to put the rubber mallet to use. A good friend does the deed right on her carpeted living room floor, but I would opt for somewhere that the occasional flying bottle cap will not break or scratch anything. I like to do mine on the railing of our deck.
Place the bottle cap top side up, and give it a couple of good whacks with a rubber mallet. (This doubles as a great way to relieve stress, especially if you have a dozen or so lined up to alter all at once). When it is flattened, flip it over and give it another good whack to flatten completely. Once you have the number you need or want to do all flat, decorate with paint, stickers, enamel, or any way you can dream up!
Paper clips can be used in a variety of ways. Available not only in a huge assortment of colors, finishes, and sizes, they can be used as is, or altered into various creations. Because not all paper clips are made of the same materials, some brands and finishes will work better for being altered than others. What are paper clips good for other than clipping paper together? With a pair of round nosed pliers, you can transform a typical paper clip into all sorts of amazing creations. If you are unsure if the clips you have are suitable for such manipulation, your best way to find out is to try one. To start, decide what shape you would like to try to make. A simple swirl is the easiest thing I have found for beginners. Once that shape is made successfully, try something more difficult. Before you know it, you will be able to create all sorts of mini metal embellishments that will look like you paid big bucks for, but cost you nothing more than some time and a few paper clips. The one compatibility problem I have run into was when I tried to bend a couple of clips that in retrospect looked painted. As soon as I started to unfold the clip, the color, or paint, started to chip off.
Choose a thin metal paper clip to begin, or a colored plastic coated one as they are often of a very pliable metal. Straighten the paper clip out to begin with; unfolding the folds that the paper clips has been formed into. Grab one end of the clip with the round nosed pliers and turn slowly, creating a swirl. Once you are comfortable bending the clips, you can make anything from letters to complete words, flowers, and other simple shapes.