Don’t Craft with a National Treasure! Do A Price Check Before You Make Recycled Art

DenimWhen I sell record bowls at craft fairs, people tend to say lots of awesome things to me, and they also tend to say three annoying things: 1) Look, sweetie, this is a record! (to their child). 2) How exactly do you make this? 3) Oh, no! You ruined all those records!

Statement one is annoying because a) the kids being shown the record bowls are always like ten years old, and their response is always to just roll their eyes at their parent, because OF COURSE they’ve seen a record before, and b) if a kid had never seen a record before, well, a record bowl really doesn’t look a lot like one, ya know? Statement two is annoying because, as my partner pointed out to me, the people who try to get me to tell them how to make a record bowl NEVER buy one from me–they just want me to tell them how to make one for themselves. Do a Google search, friends.

Statement three, though…that’s only annoying because someone says it at every single craft fair, and I have to assure them that I have a record player of my own and I only craft with the vinyl that’s way too beat up to have another use. I’m pretty sure, though, that there are people in the world (teenagers who just found mom’s old record collection, I’m talking to you here) who WOULD ruin a perfectly good, and super-valuable, vinyl record just because they didn’t know better.

Don’t accidentally ruin super-valuable stuff when you craft, friends. Check out these sites to determine the value of some of the more common items recycled for crafting, and thank me on air when Antiques Roadshow calls that postage stamp you were going to solder into a pendant a national treasure:

  • Stamps: When I was flipping through my childhood stamp collection (yep, I told you before that I’m a dork) and researching my old stamps to see which I wanted to craft with, I learned that one of my old postage stamps commonly sells for about $250. To figure out if your postage stamp is worth much, much more than the piece of steampunk jewelry you’re going to make from it, the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue is the definitive place to check, but that’s a print reference, and you never go to the library, do you? Instead, try a postage stamp dealer’s site or collectors’ sites (check out the crazy-awesome number of links at The Stamp Collecting Round-up) to see what similar stamps are selling for–search by the country of your stamp, the year it was issued, the image on the face, or anything else you can tell about it. At super-best, you could sell your postage stamp to a dealer for half of what a dealer sells it for.
  • Vintage Jeans: When Papa gave me a closet-ful of all the jeans that he and Mama used to wear in their stylish youths, I knew waaaaay better than to make them into denim quilts, as he suggested. Ebay is a good place to start looking if you’re interested in seeing how much jeans similar to yours are selling for–make sure there are actually bids on that pair of Levi’s listed at $300, though, before you get your hopes up. Locally, there also tend to be some options in selling vintage jeans through consignment or vintage shops–even if they only give you a few bucks for your jeans and you could sell a denim craft from those jeans for more, think about the extra life those jeans will get before they need to be recycled, and send them back out into the world for a while longer.
  • Vinyl records: Here’s where it’s good to have a record player of your own, because if you’re unsure whether or not your record might be valuable, then play it. If it’s totally thrashed, then it’s not worth anything unless it’s so crazy-rare that somebody would pay to have it just to look at. If it does play, again search online vinyl dealers for similar records that they’re selling (I like Music Stack), or take it to a local independent record store.

What else do you recycle for crafting? Shout it out, and we’ll see if it’s worth any money!

10 thoughts on “Don’t Craft with a National Treasure! Do A Price Check Before You Make Recycled Art”

  1. I offered to craft with some of my dad’s 45s, I got a stare of disbelief! I craft with paper, mostly junk mail and magazines. The rare comic that I cut up is usually one that my husband has an extra of, or was a freebie (free comic book day is coming up in the US!)

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  3. Ooh, yeah, comics are very important! I craft with comics, too, and my partner is in charge of checking to see that the comic I want to cut up isn’t at all valuable first. I’m always calling him at work and saying things like, “The Salvation Army has five issues of The She-Hulk at $1.49 each. Should I buy them?”

    I also don’t cut up the weird comics, either. I have this one comic in which Wonder Woman gets a job as a fast-food worker–I have that cover framed.

  4. I make a lot of items out of old, discarded books. When people see my journals and notebooks made from the covers of books and especially the bracelets made from the spines of books, I usually garner similar responses of “YOU RUINED A BOOK!” or “I bet this was really valuable!!”

    I am of a very similar mindset where I would never destroy a perfectly good object to create something else – especially a book. I receive my books from the FREE/discounted section of used books stores where the owners have told me the books are headed to the recycling center. I contact libraries that officially discard books that are damaged, out of circulation, duplicates, etc. All of these places check the titles to make sure they are not valuable financially and it is usually clear that they are not valuable reading material.

    Whenever I receive books through other ventures, I check the titles online at book resellers like Amazon Marketplace or Alibris… I haven’t found one listed for over a few bucks yet!

    Great discussion!

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  10. Also old bottles are a good idea to research too , before you get too creative with them . I’m a construction worker in St.Louis MO . And we come across a lot of old trash/burn pits , as we are digging. And I’ve found hundreds of old bottles. Some I’ve seen for sale on eBay for as much as $50-$100 . If you know of a better source of reference on old bottles, please let me know . Thanks , Ted

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