Upcycled Owls: Art Using Recycled Materials

When I first started teaching art, I found very quickly that art budgets can be slim and teachers must get very creative and thrifty. Now that I am a stay-at-home-mom, it is still necessary for me to be frugal and cut costs where I can. A run to the craft store for one project can leave you a little shocked at the checkout line.

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Ever since the girls and I started making art together on a regular basis, I began hoarding many items that most people would throw away or recycle for us to use for projects. Some of these items include:

These items can make some very interesting art and they are things you probably use or come in contact with on a daily basis. They are practically free!

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We put many of those recycled materials to use for these fun owls. See our steps below.

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When I came across some of those plastic beverage holders, I immediately thought of eyes and how perfect they would be for owls. So, we gathered some other materials we had on hand to create our owls and got started with cardboard for the body and head. I cut out the shapes and the girls painted them with tempera.

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This particular cardboard was white so it worked out perfect for the tempera…if you use brown cardboard you may want to paint a quick layer of white paint or gesso so the paint will show up better. It also helps the paint adhere to the cardboard because tempera tends to flake sometimes.

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I gave them free reign with the paint and let them choose their colors.

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We wanted to give the owls a little design or texture on the body to resemble feathers so we pulled out some bubble wrap and our brayer. The girls picked out what tempera color they wanted and rolled it onto the bubble wrap. If you don’t have a brayer, you can also paint it on with a brush or sponge, however, the brayer allows the paint to go on more evenly.

This was Willa’s favorite part. She rolled and rolled and rolled to her heart’s content!

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The girls put their bubble wrap on top of their owl body and gently pressed (it actually works better to flip your piece of cardboard onto the bubble wrap instead but we did this a little backwards!)

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The reveal was the best part! Isn’t it beautiful?! I wish I had video of the squeals that resulted when we lifted the bubble wrap off. The girls were amazed.

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The next part was assembling the pieces. They glued their beak, wings, feet, and added bottle caps and googly eyes inside their plastic beverage holder.

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The finished result. So cute and very inexpensive to make. Go on and get thrifty and start saving some of your trash!



If you make your own owls, I’d love to see them! Share with them with me on Instagram @theartgardenblog or facebook @theartgardenblog

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Looking for more bird themed art projects? Check out our Bird SoftieFunky ChickensGiant Cardboard Feathers, and our Mixed Media Salt Dough Nests.


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