Ideas and inspiration for young crafters!

Category Archives: Upcycling

Forget the parrots and the eyepatches, you know what every sea faring pirate really needs? A telescope! How else will he spot his treasure island from afar?!

This make is super quick and easy and uses our favourite household craft item, the cardboard loo roll tube. We’ve previously shown you how you can use them to make a racetrack game and a cardboard critter, so now prepare for the next item in your repertoire…

You will need:

3 loo roll tubes


masking tape


brown and gold paint

a paintbrush

felt tip pens

white tissue or tracing paper

  • Cut a tube all the way down lengthways and roll it back up so that it fits into one of the other tubes.
  • Tape the overlapping sides together so it remains it’s new, smaller size.
  • Then take the remaining tube and repeat the steps, so that it fits inside the smaller tube you just made.



  • Glue each roll in place, one inside the other, so you have your basic telescope model.
  • On your tissue/tracing paper, draw a circle by measuring around the biggest end of the telescope.
  • Paint the whole telescope brown and leave to dry.
  • While this is drying, draw a desert island scene in the circle on your paper. Cut out 1cm around the circle and then cut little darts in the excess paper so that you can tape it to the base of the telescope.
  • Put another piece of tape around the smaller end of the telescope and paint both pieces of tape gold.

And you’re done! Arrrrr!! You will see why we used thin paper for the island picture when you hold your telescope up to the light and look through it 😉


Check us out! It’s a week to go until Valentine’s Day and we have our make all ready – we’re getting quite good at this deadline business.

Valentine’s cards are lovely, but you know what’s even lovelier? Chocolate. So, we have combined a heartfelt message with chocolate to bring you our…


The Box ~ You will need:

An empty paracetamol box (or anything around that size)

Heart shaped cookie cutter or template (but you can always draw by hand)


Craft knife or scissors

PVA glue




Step one

  • Place your heart in the centre of the box and draw around it with a marker pen.
  • Using your craft knife or scissors, cut the shape out.

Step two

  • Tear your newspaper in to strips and, using glue mixed with a little water, coat each strip with the mixture and cover the box. You can cover over the join at the bottom of the box, but make sure you can still open and close it at the top.
  • When this is dry (you will need to leave it overnight) give your box a few base coats of white paint – then you may decorate it however you like (paints, pens, stickers, glitter).

Chocolate Bark ~ You will need:

A bar of milk chocolate

A packet of white chocolate buttons

Loveheart sweets



  • Shape the foil round your box, so that you have a mold the same size and shape.
  • Break up the milk chocolate and carefully melt it in the microwave. Heat it for 30 seconds at a time and keep checking and stirring until its just melted.
  • Pour the melted chocolate in to your mold.
  • Break up some of the white chocolate buttons and scatter them over your milk chocolate.
  • Then pick the Loveheart who’s message you like the most and stick this in the centre of the bark.
  • Leave to set in the fridge until completely solid.

The finished product!

  • Remove the bark from the foil and pop it inside the box. You’re done! 😀

Just incase you were worrying we’d gone totally girly on you, we have a more boy/tomboy orientated make coming up next…stay tuned!…






We’re busy working on this year’s costumes, something we love doing. There are so many cool Halloween items in the shops right now, but it can end up getting very expensive and as you know, we at Ruby Makes love to upcycle whenever we can. Your costume can very likely be made from things you’ll find you already have at home.

Think about what you’d like to be. Do you own any clothes that could be used for your outfit? Are you allowed to alter them (cut them up, paint on them etc)? If you’re not, think of ways you could temporarily customise like taping, sewing or safety pinning bits on, layering up – there’s a way ’round most problems if you stop and have a good brainstorm.

Here are some past outfits from our Halloween collection, all of our “make up” is done with face paints which you can pick up fairly cheaply this time of year.

                                                                       The Mummy

This outfit did take a long time to put together, but was very simple. We sewed crepe bandages to a long sleeved t shirt and some jogging bottoms using a basic running stitch. After Halloween the bandages were easily removed with a few snips from our scissors.


The Halloween classic! We cut up an old t-shirt and splashed it with fake blood from The Pound Shop (dollar store), wrapped some bloody crepe bandages round the head and went mad with the face paints. This costume is perfect if you have any old, spare clothes – it doesn’t matter if the clothes are too big for you, it just adds to that ravaged zombie look. Alternatively you could pick up some bargains from a charity shop if you have nothing to zombify at home.

                                                                             Corpse Bride

If you have a dressing up stash it can come in really handy at Halloween. This was an old Barbie wedding dress, which came with a veil. We teamed it up with lace gloves (which Ruby also already owned) and face paints and blue hair spray provided the rest of the look.

We won’t let you in on our costumes for this year just yet, but we will be using face paints and clothes from our wardrobes…

…stay tuned!

Drumroll please…we have finished the doll’s house project. Ain’t no procrastinators here!

So, unlike your headmaster at a school assembly, we shall waste no time with chit chat and get straight to the point…

You will need:

Wooden clothes pegs ( for as many people as you want to make)

A saw and sandpaper

An old magazine or some fabric



Paint and brushes

Sharpie markers

  • You need the one piece pegs, that don’t have springs. So they fit inside your house, you will need to saw off all or part of the prongs. Even if you are a pro at sawing, have a grown up with you just incase as it’s quite fiddly sawing small objects. We needed to sand the bottoms of ours afterwards to smooth them off.

  • Next choose some funky textures or patterns (photos of clothes or wallpaper are ideal) from a magazine, or use fabric scraps, to make your doll some clothes. The body part of our peg measured 2cm so we cut out strips this size and glued them around the body. Ruby then cut out little pictures to stick on for detail, you could also use stickers or glue on little gems, ric rac or ribbon – whatever you like!
  • When the glue was dry we painted on hair, then drew on faces with sharpie markers.

And you’re done!

Thanks for sticking with us for longer than anticipated 😀  We’re officially gearing up for Halloween now – we LOVE trick-or-treating! – so stay tuned for Halloween costume makes and ideas…

We’ve been gathering supplies to make our doll’s house residents, but in the meantime Ruby created a fun little project with endless possibilities.

There are always a lot of supplements from the Sunday papers lying around our house at the weekend. All of us at Ruby Makes love a bit of cutting and sticking, so it’s only ever scraps and skeletons of these magazines that end up in the recycling bin. One of Ruby’s favourite interests is fashion, so yesterday she made a mini look book from pictures that she either found or created as a collage:

You can easily make your own zine this way using pictures from catalogues, magazines, papers or comics. You could make it a fanzine, where you showcase a band you love, or maybe a football team or a tv show. You could create one for your favourite hobby or about something you collect. You don’t need to cut and stick either, you could illustrate yours by hand or using the computer. Maybe you could print a few copies off for your friends – or have them contribute articles so you have your own newspaper or newsletter. It may even be something your teacher would be interested in as a class project.

Ruby’s magazine is made from folded sheets of paper, which we think is the simplest method, if you’re feeling a little more ambitious, here are a couple of other techniques we like:

Folded Paper Mini Album by Papervine

Click here for the excellent tutorial.


Mini Book Tutorial by Ruth Bleakley

Also a great tutorial which you can find here.

What did you make?

It’s not reaaally that we’ve been slacking, honest! Just with the whole back to school thing and then trying to cram weekends with fun stuff (sorry school, but we’re just not that in to you!) the project got a little neglected.

But fear not! Ruby has spent the past few evenings making with a vengeance, so whilst we have yet to make our dolls, we have enough furniture to give you some inspiration.

Making Furniture

You Will Need:

Small cardboard boxes, eggboxes etc


PVA glue






Pipe cleaners

Pictures from magazines etc

We love recycling and junk modelling really is the way forward here. Experiment, get creative – here’s what Ruby has come up with plus some other ideas from the ‘net 🙂


  • The cooker is a small box (that contained stock cubes) painted, details added with pens and paint.
  • The kettle is a section cut from a cardboard roll (clingfilm, much thinner than the ones they use for loo rolls), with a handle from card/ paper and a spout and cord from pipe cleaners.
  • The mirror and framed picture are made from cardboard frames (cut from cereal packets) that were then painted. For the mirror we used foil and for the picture you could use a photo (passport photos of your family would be awesome!), pictures from a magazine or your own artwork. Glue on to the card, or for a more 3D feel, glue to the back of the frame.
  • The chair is made from another section of cardboard roll that’s been cut to make a back for the chair and then painted. The bed is the top section of a box that contained tea bags. It’s been painted and we are also planning on cutting some fabric up for a blanket to go inside it.


  • The garden table and umbrella are made from cereal packet cardboard, with rolled up, sellotaped paper for the umbrella pole. The chairs are cut from an eggbox and painted.  We plan to get some greengrocer’s grass to use as a garden for the house, that it can just stand on when you’re playing – or you could even line the inside of the lid of the house (the front of the house) with it and use that, face down, as your garden.

Here are some more ideas we found…

  • For wall art you could use hama/perler beads, like these cute creations from the Happy Doodle Land blog.


  • The Martha Stewart site has a tutorial for a popsicle (ice lolly) stick house, we think this would also be a great idea for furniture like a sofa, a table or a bed.


  • They also have a blog post about rock/pebble crafts, we thought you could paint a cat or a dog on a pebble to be your dollhouse pet.


  • We love these Matchbox Monsters from Chez Beeper Bebe, which is another great idea for dollhouse beds.


The dolls are up next, so see you soon!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in to the craft area!…

As promised, though possibly a day late, here is the next step in our dollhouse project:

Decorating The House

You will need:



Tissue paper

Card/thin cardboard

Fabric or patterned paper



  • Before we got decorating we looked at different styles of houses on the internet. The style we have chosen is quite a traditional dollhouse one, but it’s really up to you how you want your house to look. It doesn’t even have to be a dollhouse – it could be a mad scientist’s lab, a shop, a Pokemon Centre, a Moshi Monster home, a haunted house, a toy’s hospital, a vets, a cafe, a Gormiti lair…as usual, let your imagination go wild!
  • Let’s start with the inside. Again you have lots of options. You can paint your walls, you could wallpaper them with pictures from magazines, wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper or material. We chose to use fabric. An easy way to make sure you cut your paper/material etc to the right size is to push a scrap of newspaper into the house and use your fingers to crease around the sides of the wall (fig. 1)
  • Then you cut around the creases and use the newspaper as a template for your fabric, which you then glue in to place (fig. 2)
  • We cut our material slightly longer at the bottom so it overlaps on to the floor. That way when you put your floor in it looks nice and neat with no gaps showing (fig. 3)
  • For the floor you could use more material, maybe some cord or felt, you could use card, cork tiles or – if like us – you have scraps of old lino or carpet lying around, use that! (fig. 4 & 5) Use your glue to attach it. You could even make rugs to fit your house using our rag rug tutorial.



  • For the outside, pick what colour/s you’d like your house to be and get painting! You can add details when the paint is dry with pens, or you can do slightly different coloured layers of paint and use an old pencil or crafting tool to scrape patterns in to a wet layer of paint so the layers underneath show through. We used this for a tile effect on our roof (fig. 1)
  • When we had finished painting and the house was dry, we added some white trim which we cut from card and glued on (fig. 2)
  • If you do this remember to leave a gap to ensure you can still fit your lid on to the box (fig. 3)
  • Then we used more card and tissue paper to glue on windows and a door (fig. 4)



  • For a final bit of colour we added a rose bush growing around the door of our house. We spread glue on the area we wanted covered and scrunched up tiny balls of tissue paper for the bush and roses.

And we are almost done!! Stay tuned for the final stage…making dolls and furniture.