We love a good upcycled craft project around here, so when Michael Welsh wanted to send me a review copy of his book, How to Make Crafts using Recycled Materials, I took him up on the offer.
The book is geared towards kids, and the idea is to teach them how to start thinking about crafting with reclaimed materials. Michael was kind enough to chat with me about the book and why he published it. The projects are simple, mostly using empty juice boxes as a base.
Michael says that he’s wanted to write a book since he was a in second grade making up up stories and building toys. It just stuck, and he kept on doing it. He gets his inspiration from construction vehicles and loves trying to figure out how to make models out of reclaimed materials that work they way do. Over the years, he’s developed processes for building trains, cars, trucks, cranes, ships, aircraft carriers all out of boxes and other materials from the recycle bin. Over time he learned how to make moving joints out of recycled materials.
The projects you see in the book are smaller projects for little kids, and Michael visits local community centers and hospitals to teach kids from a young age up to 6th grade how to make recycled models of their own. He says that teaching kids is super rewarding, because after he shows them how to build models, they start coming up with their own designs. Michael said:
The kids let you inside your hearts when you build with them. They become friendly with you and talk to you…it’s fun! They’ll even give you ideas on what to build and how.
One misconception that Michael says he runs into a lot is that idea that upcycling is about taking garbage and making toys, and it’s much more than that. He wrote How to Make Crafts Using Recycled Materials to get kids thinking about creating. If kids and their parents got together to build stuff on a smaller scale, imagine what they could do as a community. It’s all about encouraging play.