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This is for all the little collectors out there!

My son is a collector of all things. I find screws, bolts, washers, leaves, and rocks sitting at his spot at the table.

Some of his collected things do get tossed out, but other things he keeps.

We set out a mission to make some art out of them.

What You'll Need

  • Junk or Nature Items - Make sure it's light and not super heavy
  • Heavy Structure Gel found in the Acrylic section at an art supply store
  • A few Acrylic Paints
  • A Pen
  • A Scissors 
  • Paint Brushes/Foam Brushes
  • A Spoon/Palette Knife
  • Canvas Board
  • String - Optional
  • Sand - Optional
  • Rainbow Looms - Optional

Some of What We Used

The 3 images below would be the only things you'd need to buy - Heavy Structure Gel, Paint, Sand, and Canvas Board

The trash turned to treasure - Screen, Washers, Caps, Rusted Metal and more

Things you probably have laying around the house - Spoon, Pen, Scissors, Rainbow Looms, Brushes, and a Foam Brush

Let's Turn Some Trash into Treasure

Plan out where you want to put the found objects on the canvas. I told my son, "You have a lot of things on here that are circular, let's go with most of your things being circles too." He agreed. 

Try and have a focal point. One area should stand out either with size, texture, color, or shape.

The only thing you'll need the pen for is drawing on the junk to cut things out. If you can't see your line use a white colored pencil, chalk, or crayon.

Our focal point was the big white screen with the stick on it.

Mounting the Treasure

I'd say most of us have used school glue, or hot glue to mount things down. In this case we're going to use something called Heavy Structure Gel. I got Windsor & Newton brand, but there are other brands out there.

Why use Heavy Structure Gel? Your treasure will stick, it dries pretty fast, and you can paint right on top of it with no problems.

I don't use a brush to apply it. It's pretty hard on brushes. I use a palette knife, spoon or fork for texture.

You can apply it to the canvas directly, or the treasured items. Sometimes I do both if the treasure isn't flat.

It's on!

My son was hesitant to apply these things at first, but quickly got into it. I think he needed to see me apply the first few things before he felt comfortable.

He added Rainbow Looms to areas.

We decided to add string. It's ok to make last minute decisions on things to add. Especially if it helps bring it all together. I feel like the string helped one area flow into another.

Let it Dry!

Once things are set down they don't move, unless you pick them up to move them. One cool thing about Heavy Structure Gel that we didn't do is you can put the different mesh things down in it, pick it back up, and it holds the shape! The could be a whole different project.

It really didn't take long for it to dry. 

Paint it!

We used my son's favorite color, Gold. I said, "We should use just one more color at least." He agreed that silver would be a good choice. 

He sprinkled sand in areas.

We put blobs of silver paint inside where the Rainbow Looms are.


Considering the fact that I teach art, I wanted to keep going. I could see adding some rusty reds, and teal with copper areas. I guess that's a good sign. I like this project so much I could hang it in my house.

Kids love to work on things, and be done in one day. 

It can go in any direction. There is no up or down.

This Craft is Best for Ages

Four and up. An adult would need to help for ages 10 and below.

Alissa Apel

Art Instructor and Parent Blogger

Alissa Apel is a wife and mom of 2 happy and energetic boys ages 9 and 12. She is a college instructor at the Creative Center. She spends her free time blogging for, baking, cooking, working on craft project with the 9 year old, and painting. Learn More About Alissa Facebook Instagram Pinterest ...

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