Art With Everyday Things

I stumbled upon Tsh Oxenreider’s blog, Simplemom.net, and its words of clean and simple living wisdom have been a huge inspiration to this pile-making, book-loving, overstuffed home-making, can’t-throw-away-art-supplies-from-college kind of gal. I was so drawn in that I purchased her book, Organized Simplicity, and I’m finding myself on a new path toward simplifying my home and life.

Related to all of this, my home has fallen under The Great Purge, and odds and ends like never used triangular make-up sponges are mostly finding their way into the trash. Or in this case, because I still have the art material hoarding sickness…the art table. Although the whole point of this journey is for me to get rid of things, I had a feeling that my little art explorer would enjoy tinkering with them.

Art With Everyday Things

And she did! After sponging to her heart’s content, N reached for the paint squeeze bottles. Mixed media painting begins here! When she was younger I waxed poetic about limiting art supplies in any given project to avoid overwhelming a child with options. I’m still formulating my thoughts on this as she gets older, but it’s becoming more and more clear that she enjoys having access to a wide variety of materials in one sitting. In another recent session, she used pom-poms, glitter glue, and watercolor paint…all of her own design.

Art With Everyday Things

And then she picked up a grease pencil, or china marker, for some additional mark-making. These pencils not only make beautiful bright marks, but they’re fun for kids to peel open.

While the triangle sponges were saved from the dump this time around, it’s a whole other story for the old blender, maternity clothes, and set of rarely used hot cocoa mugs. Although, on second thought, that dying blender may find a second life as a paper pulper. Or not.

I’d love to know…what everyday objects you or your kids like to tinker with?


  1. Love it! Now there’s an excuse for an art teacher to wear more makeup.

    Printmaking was not part of my K-12 or college experiences, so I love simple processes to get started. My kids (students) and I have also printed with soft leaves, flat rocks, and by using a pencil to create relief surface in a foam disposable plate.

    • printmaking in all its forms is so rewarding — i like your use of natural materials. and yes, more makeup for art teachers 🙂

  2. spool from sewing machine string, deodorant caps, the fun shaped, piece of plastic that holds new socks together, puzzle pieces from puzzles with missing pieces, parts to broken toys. If you haven’t heard of it already, Beautiful Stuff by Cathy Topal rocks. There’s also Thinking with a Line by Topal as well.

    • such creative ideas! i’m big on recycling, but i have never thought to save deodorant caps or the plastic that holds new socks together!! i recently purchased beautiful stuff, and have yet to look through it. and thank you for the other book suggestion as well 🙂

  3. You might also enjoy Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I borrowed it from the leader of our Waldorf parent-child group and pretty much devoured it. 🙂

    I have a push-pull thing going on with saving things for the art studio “just in case” and trying to be honest with myself on whether we’ll REALLY use whatever it is. (There’s also a push-pull between having options and having so many options we’re overwhelmed!) Meanwhile, after spending over a year during which my third child was only happy when strapped to me–as I watched the clutter just kind of build up while I couldn’t do much about it (feeling strongly that the baby’s happiness came before tidying up)–I went on a bit of a tear this past fall. The holidays derailed me but I think it’s time to start loading up the car for Salvation Army trips again!

    • Thanks for the book suggestion, Amy! I haven’t heard about this book, and I’m also having fun poking around their website. Good stuff! I just made my big trip to Goodwill, and there’s more to come. A friend inspired me this morning with the suggestion of getting rid of one thing each day for the entire year!

    • I just ordered the book! Thank you so much for the tip.

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