Whether you are feeling super creative and really want to try your hand at making something fabulous, or you just want a gentle, healing project to take your mind off things, we’ve made a list of our favorite crafts to give you a little bit of inspiration to try something new.
This is not a how-to, but I will point you to where you can learn more as we go along.
So without further ado here is The Big Bumper List of 15+ Creative Hobby and Craft Ideas for you to try…
1. Scrapbooking – Make a Junk Journal
The idea of a junk journal is that you make a beautiful handmade journal from scraps of paper, card, envelopes, junk mail magazines – or anything you can find that you otherwise, would just throw away – how cool is that?
But there are really no rules, so if you want to, you can use pages from books, buy printed craft paper and there are all kinds of beautiful ephemera and printable kits on Etsy that you can decorate your journal with.
The photos above are journals I’ve made using a mixture of materials. The vintage journal top is my WIP. It started out as 3 pieces of cardboard taped together to for the front back and spine and covered with hand-dyed (straight out of the kitchen cupboard – with a little sugar-free blackcurrant and apple juice) muslin fabric.
The two nature-themed journals (above) were Amazon packages that I painted with white acrylic and then decorated with decoupage using napkins.
Here’s a list of other types of journals you may like to make:
- Art Journals | For collage, sketching, or painting, etc.
- Bullet Journals | A planner style journal.
- Traveler’s Notebooks | Usually taller and slimmer or passport size.
- Smash Books | A spiral-bound scrapbook.
If you want to start making journals, here’s a great beginner tutorial from My Porch Prints for a junk journal.
Just remember that copyright is something that you should always be aware of. Just because it’s out there, doesn’t me you have the right to use it. So always read the license first.
If you want some great free stuff that (to the best of my knowledge) is copyright free or in the public domain. Here are a few absolute gems that I found.
Decoupage dates back to 17th century France. It was first used to decorate items of furniture but the possibilities of this technique are endless.
You can transform just about anything with decoupage – from jewelry boxes to matchboxes, or go large scale with pieces of furniture.
It’s actually very easy. Below are very basic instructions to give you an idea of the process.
- Preparation – The background color of whatever you decoupage is very likely to show through, so you may need to gesso, or paint it unless you are starting with a white or light background.
- Brush Mod Podge or PVA glue (thinned with water) onto the surface.
- Place the paper you want to use on top – dabbing it flat with a scrunched-up paper napkin works well.
- Gently brush a fixing coat of Mod Podge or thinned PVA over the top.
Thinner papers are preferred for decoupage as they allow the glue to permeate all the way through, examples of media you can use are:
- Illustrated/printed rice paper
- Napkins (use only the very top layer)
- Decoupage paper
- Wrapping paper
- Crepe paper
Iron-on Method of Decoupage
The iron-on method is worth a mention here. It works really well to prevent wrinkles and minimizes the chances of your paper tearing.
- Prepare your surface (the background color of whatever you decoupage is very likely to show through, so you may need to gesso, or paint it unless you are starting with a white or light background)
- Brush Mod Podge or PVA glue (thinned with water) onto the surface but allow it to dry fully.
- When dry, apply your napkin layer or paper.
- Place a sheet of parchment over the top and iron. This will reactivate the glue. Note: I used greaseproof paper because it’s all I had, but it’s not the best choice. The wax melted a little onto the surface of the iron. Ironing a piece of plain copy paper afterward did clean it up. But I would suggest using unwaxed if possible.
- Apply your final layer of PVA (or similar) in the normal way. It will wrinkle but don’t worry.
- Repeat the ironing process when dry to completely flatten.
This is the process I used to make the decoupage envelope and tag shown above.
3. Handmade Paper Making
Papermaking is so much fun. You’ll need a screen and you may need to sacrifice your old blender or buy a new cheap one to blitz small scraps of torn-up paper with water to make the pulp. It’s a great way to recycle junk mail. And you can add flowers or petals and herbs to make your paper look pretty and unique.
I just wanted to quickly add this one in because I’ve been doing a lot of paper dying lately for my journals.
And it’s a super easy and fast way to get very unique, pretty paper to make into journals notebooks or to use to wrap small gifts.
You’ll just need a shallow tray large enough to fully immerse your paper in. It’s not an exact science – well actually it probably is, but I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. I basically just wing it when making mine (I love the surprise).
Generally speaking, the longer you soak the paper and the more concentrated the dye, the deeper or brighter the result will be. Here are my most successful recipes:
Avocado | Boil avocado (skins only) and the stones in some water. I tend to leave it overnight. Soak paper for up to an hour (if it’s not delicate paper).
Results will be surprisingly a soft pink.
Red Onion Skins | Outer paper skin only – same process as above.
Results will be surprisingly a soft green.
Kool-Aid or squash concentrate | OK so saying “this is hand-dyed Kool-Aid paper” doesn’t sound as sophisticated as “this is hand-dyed avocado paper” but it totally works.
I used blackcurrant and apple concentrate straight out of my kitchen cupboard. The paper came out a lovely soft pick and smelled divine for about a week. I worried it would eventually smell off, but it doesn’t, after several weeks it doesn’t smell of anything.
4. Needle Point, Cross Stitch, and Embroidery
There was a time when I always had a cross-stitch or needlepoint project on the go. I have to confess I haven’t done any lately, but now I’m thinking I should. It’s calming, fun and there are so many beautiful kits out there to choose from.
Some kits have a printed canvas like this one others are ‘counted cross-stitch’ like the adorable kit below. Counted cross-stitch is the choice of serious needleworkers – but don’t be put off, it’s easy enough to do even if you are a beginner.
5. Bead Work
Beadwork can be hand stitched or on woven on a beading loom.
I have to confess I am a little bit obsessed with it right now. You can see my latest projects above. I followed some YouTube tutorials (I’m a huge fan btw) to make the 3 bracelets at the bottom and I adapted what I learned to make the necklace.
…And that’s a great way to start. There are a few basic stitches to learn, and you will become familiar with the different sizes and types of beads as you go along.
Here’s a free guide sheet to get you started.
And below is a video tutorial of a necklace that I designed for myself. It uses 11/0 Miyuki seeds beads and 3.4mm drops.
(I’m not very good at making videos yet, but I’m determined to improve.)
6. Needle Felting
Needle felting is a fabulous way to express your creativity.
There are two basic processes:
- Wet Felting | This process uses water, soap, and agitation to tangle and shape the fibers.
- Dry felting | This is the process of tangling together the loose fibers of wool roving with a barbed needle. Poking the fibers multiple times, compacts the fibers to create structure and form.
The angel, that you can see in the top image is my latest project. Itwas my first attempt and it was honestly so quick and easy to make.
I’ll post how to make one very soon.
The most popular craft of the 1970s is back! But there’s nothing out of date about this new trend. So if you’d like to try your hand at making something boho-chic and contemporary with fiber, this is the craft for you.
I highly recommend you start with a macramé kit (similar to the one I made the wall hanging with, above). I also recommend you choose a kit that also comes with video instructions if possible.
Speaking of videos… Here a macramé feather that I made.
8. Crochet and Knitting
Ok, so knitting is not my strong point. And while I’d absolutely love to be able to knit, frankly I find it a bit frustrating. I have to concentrate 100% or I just drop stitches.
And it takes me about an hour each time, (not to mention, various illustrated diagrams, and a YouTube tutorial or two) to work out how to pick it up again.
But that’s probably just me. Both my mother and grandmother knitted beautifully (that’s actually my grandmother in the photo, right).
Above is my attempt at a lovely simple free pattern I found online.
The dark green hat was crocheted just following a simple tutorial I found on YouTube. It actually turned out really well.
Weaving is another wonderful way to express yourself creatively. If you are keen to get into weaving you could go straight for a rigid heddle loom. Alternatively, you could go for a simpler (and more affordable) tapestry loom like the one, pictured above, that we featured in our article, 5 (Beautiful) Best Looms for Beginners.
10. Sketching, Drawing, Illustration Digital Art and Painting
One thing I firmly believe is that no one is bad at drawing! Everyone has a unique style – and it’s just a matter of developing it.
I’ve always loved painting and drawing. That being said, I couldn’t draw people if my life depended on it. But I dearly wanted to. So I put my 10,000 hours into practicing and I slowly improved over time.
Today I work as a digital illustrator, mostly producing book covers. Above is a cover I created for the lovely author, Melissa Baldwin.
10. Diamond Painting
Diamond Painting is quite a new craft, it’s only been around for a few years but it’s enormously popular. If you already like cross-stitch or painting by numbers, you’ll love diamond painting.
Some kits require you to fill the entire canvas to complete the project, but the kit shown above is a partial kit that I recently completed. It has an inked background to which lots of diamonds (or drills) are added.
Partial kits make a great starter project. You can read more about diamond painting here, or see below for an idea of what diamond art is all about.
13. Wood Burning
…Or how about drawing – but with a twist. Wood burning is just that little bit different.
11. Candle Making
You can make some beautifully scented candles in your own kitchen at home.
They make lovely gifts and if you are thinking of making some extra cash, or even starting a new business, they’re the ideal make-to-sell item.
To get you started, there are some fantastic candle-making kits out there and the best thing about them is that they’re made from soy or beeswax.
Regular paraffin candles are made from petroleum, coal, or shale oil, whereas soy candles are made from plants and beeswax comes from the wax caps bees use to seal in their honey.
Not only will these candles give you a much cleaner, and therefore healthier burn, but you’ll also get a cleaner scent throw.
12. Soap Making
In my honest opinion, the melt and pour method, using a soap-making kit is the way to go here – at least to start with. With a kit, there are no harsh chemicals to use, because the lye process, (known as the saponification process) has already been done for you.
It’s super easy to make beautiful artisan soap, anyone can do it, and it’s a fun activity for kids too.
Aromatherapy is a wonderfully interesting subject to study. Especially if you are a true lover of nature and feel and sense of peace being around plants, and herbs.
I was inspired to learn more about aromatherapy after watching a wonderful BBC documentary called The Frankincense Trail several years ago. It’s well worth a watch.
I only make very basic and safe recipes.
15. Pottery and Clay Crafts
Throwing pots takes practice and you should really expect it to be several weeks before you’ll make anything that looks like you intended it to. But it’s great fun, so we say – just keep going!
Attending a local pottery class is a good way to start. If you find you really love it and want to start throwing your own pots at home, you’ll then know it’s worth investing in a good pottery wheel.
Below is a rundown of the different types of clay you can use:
- Porcelain: Porcelain is quite soft and easy to center. It has high plasticity – and therefore it’s suitable for fine teacups and saucers. The downside is that it dries out quite quickly and that means you have to add water to keep it working. That can be tricky to get just right. So it’s not the most ideal clay to use as a beginner.
- Earthenware clay: Terracotta is an earthenware clay. It fires at a low-temperature and remains porous after it’s fired. This means if it’s used for anything that’s intended to hold liquids it will need to be glazed first. It molds well and holds its shape.
- Stoneware clay: Is naturally strong and is cheaper than either porcelain or earthenware. The addition of a fine grog makes it easier to work with and therefore, on balance, this is the best clay for beginners.
If you like the idea of sculpting or hand building with clay and don’t have the room or want to throw pots on a wheel or use a kiln.
Fortunately, you don’t have to invest in equipment to get started.
You see, Air-dry clay doesn’t require a kiln to harden – so no big investment to get started. It’s ideal for hand-building and generally has a long working time before starts to harden. When dry, it can be decorated with tempera, acrylics, or oil paints.
That being said, some air dry clays can be thrown on a pottery wheel if you want to.
Just remember that air-dry clay is porous – so it’s no suitable for use as a vessel or vase (unless purely for decorative purposes) – nor is it food safe.
Polymer clay and oven bake clay are non-toxic media that you bake to harden. You can use them for doll making, sculptures, home décor, and more. They are very pliable so can be rolled, shaped, and cut, or pressed into molds.
After baking you can sand, drill and paint them if you wish.
Do you enjoy a craft that you think we should add to this list? Tell us about it in the comments below and we’ll add it and give you a mention if you’d like.