Category Archives: Eco-friendly

DIY Decorative Gift Container

What started out as a tin for my tea has been transformed into this beautiful decorative gift container.

What started out as a tin for my tea has been transformed into this beautiful decorative gift container.

It’s easy to make your own decorative gift container. All that is necessary is a container, some decorative paper, double sided tape and a craft knife or scissors. Just follow the do-it-yourself instructions below.

From left to right: the tin my tea comes in. the tin with the paper torn off (sticky stuff still showing), tin cleaned, De-Solve-It which really takes the sticky off my tin.

From left to right: original tea tin. tea tin with paper torn off with sticky residue remaining, tea tin cleaned, De-Solv-it which takes off the sticky residue.

I love to use cylindrical containers like the ones that tea or hot chocolate or oatmeal comes in. My favorite is the metal tins in the photo on the left that contains Double Green Matcha Tea from The Republic of Tea.

First I empty the contents from my container and clean it as best I can. For my example I have used my tea tin. I first remove the paper label. There is usually an awful sticky residue and some paper left behind. To clean this I use De-Solv-it which is organic, biodegradable, environmentally friendly and works like a champ to remove all sorts of sticky stuff.

Paper cut to the height of the can and enough to overlap about an inch.

Paste paper is cut to the height of the can and enough to overlap about an inch going around the can.

Once my tin is ready, I measure the height of the tin. I cut a piece of decorative paper the height of the tin and about an inch longer than its circumference. I have found that using a fairly light weight paper works best. In this example I am using a piece of paste paper that I made. For information on how I make my paste papers, see my posts Making Paste Paper: Part 1 and Making Paste Paper: Part 2.

Here I am trimming the double sided tape to the height of the paper.

Here I am trimming the double sided tape to the height of the paper.

Now I attach a strip of double sided tape to each of the ends of the paper. Be sure to apply the tape to the wrong side of the paper. I put the tape as close to the end of the paper as possible and overlap the tape on top and bottom on to a cutting surface. Then  I cut the tape as close to the height of the paper as possible without cutting the paper. See the photo on the left. The double sided tape is just one I picked up at a local stationary store. You don’t need a special type of artists tape.

The photo above shows one side of my paste paper has been attached to the can.

The photo above shows one side of my paste paper has been attached to the can.

Now I attach one side of the paper to the tin. I carefully line up the paper on the can and press to attach the paper to the tin. I roll the tin slowly while making sure the paper fits properly. If I am off, I unroll the tin and carefully reposition the paper and start rolling again. When I come to the end of the paper it should overlap a little and I push to attach the end of the paper. Now all I need to do is to add a gift.

My finished gift container.

My finished gift container. Note that the seam is facing you in this photo. It’s hardly noticeable at all.

See, it’s easy. I love finding ways to re-use things that would normally end up in either the trash or recycle bin. Once I give a gift in this container, I am sure my container will get used over and over again.

Enjoy, Candy

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Eco Friendly Earth Paints

Non-toxic water-soluble Earth Paint kit for children

My friend Leah Fanning Mebane has produced kits of non-toxic water-soluble paints for children and kits of non-toxic oil paints for adults and professional oil painters.

Leah, herself, is a professional oil painter. She found out she was pregnant with her first child at the same time she was invited by a local gallery to hang the largest one-person show of her career. She needed to create 25 new large-scale oil paintings. Being pregnant, she did not want to be breathing the fumes from toxic paints every day throughout her pregnancy. Luckily she had already begun researching natural paints and eco-friendly oil painting techniques for environmental reasons and had already started taking steps to reduce these toxins.

Leah got rid of all her toxic solvents and resupplied her studio with natural clay pigments and walnut oil. Turpentine, paint thinner, mineral spirits and varnish emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as they dry, so out they went. Long-term exposure can lead to cancer and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system.

Leah painted with her non-toxic paints throughout her pregnancy. She even went out and dug up clay to make some of her paints. Her show was a success and the reception was a week before her due date.

Django and Leah painting with water-soluble Earth Paints

After Leah’s son, Django, was born, she discovered that most commercial “non-toxic” kid’s paints contain biocides such as pesticides and fungicides. Some paints contain formaldehyde to extend the paint’s shelf life and yet are still called “non-toxic.” She also learned that conventional paints may contain hundreds of different chemicals, many of which contain carcinogens or neurotoxins. After more research she was delighted to find out that natural earth paints are not only eco-friendly, but have a far better track record of quality, archival durability and UV-resistance than any synthetic paint on the market.

Leah found that other mothers were asking where they could find truly non-toxic paints for their children. She realized there was a market for safe, healthy paints for children as well as adults. Thus, she launched Earth Paints.

Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon

Earth Paints are created in much the same way that our ancestors made their paints. The clay pigments are collected from the ground, and they are crushed, sifted, and sieved into a very fine powder. There are a surprisingly large range of earthen colors in nature, including blues, greens and violets. Look out your window as you’re driving down roads that have been cut into the earth. You can sometimes see the layers of colors formed over millions of years. I was reminded of Leah’s Earth Paints when I took a trip through Eastern Oregon this past summer and stopped at the Painted Hills.

Mothers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that only the simplest and safest earthen paints are touching their child’s skin.

Leah’s children’s paints can be used on rocks, paper, fabric, wood, shells and more. They have a creamy, tempera-like consistency that is easy for toddlers to use. Unlike many other children’s paints on the market that are transparent or dull because of added fillers, preservatives and low quality pigment, these are very high quality, opaque and can be enjoyed by older children and adults as well.

Earth Paints oil painting kit

Leah’s Earth Paints Eco Oil Painting Kit is designed for artists from teens to professionals. Included in the kit is a booklet that tells how to eliminate every single toxin from the oil painting process.

To find out more about Earth Paints, nature-inspired art projects, DIY natural art supplies, recipes and move, visit Leah’s website at www.NaturalEarthPaint.com.

Enjoy, Candy