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Many years ago we moved my grandparents from their home they’d been in for many years. As we sorted through the space beneath my grandma’s staircase, I was astounded at the things she’d kept: stacks several feet high of plastic green strawberry baskets, dozens of egg cartons, and canned dry beans that were over 50 years old. My grandmother had been through the depression, she understood making innocuous things into something crafty or useful. (Not the beans—I’m not sure when she intended to finally use them.)

There are dozens of things you can do with egg cartons and strawberry baskets—most of them geared to crafts for children. A simple internet search produces more options than I cared to link to. Once upon a time, when I was young and ambitious, I used egg cartons to make fire starters. I still have several in one of my camping gear bins.

Materials Needed:
• Cardboard Egg Carton
• Dryer Lint
• Small Pine Cones and/or Dried Pine Needles (optional) (I’ve never used them.)
• Canning Wax (my choice), old candles, and/or old crayons.
• Medium size can, (like for tomatoes) bent to have a spout on one side.

Instructions:
Fill each egg carton cup loosely about half full with dryer lint. May add small pine cones and/or dried pine needles on top of the dyer lint. It you use the pine cones and needles, it is okay if the cups are slightly overfilled, just make sure the lint does not get packed in too tightly. Set aside, on several layers of newspaper.
On the stove top, place the can inside a small pan of water. Add wax of choice (or combination) to the can. Don’t worry about candle wicks, they should settle to the bottom of the can. Heat the water and melt the wax. Carefully pour the wax into each egg carton cup. Let set.

Once the wax is cooled, the egg crate cups can be cut into sections. This site has detailed pictures–using wood shavings instead of dryer lint. And this videoshows one burning.

On the same theme of dryer lint, this last year I read about dryer lint clay. The idea was so off-the-wall, I decided to give it a try. I began collecting lint in a bag in my laundry room. Here’s the recipe I used:

Materials Needed:
• 2 Cups Dryer Lint torn into small pieces
• 1/3 Cup White Glue
• 1 Tablespoon Dish Washing Soap
• 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Warm Water
Instructions:
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the white glue, dish washing soap, and a 1/4 cup of the water. Once it is mixed well, slowly add dryer lint. [I didn’t tear mine very small, as the picture shows, so I really can’t say how well this could have worked.]
Mix this all together, kneading if necessary. If the mixture is too dry, you can add more water, a little at a time, until your lint clay is easy to work with.

What I got was not clay. But I molded it over the bottom of a square vase anyway and let it dry overnight. Note: cover the vase or other mold with plastic wrap for easy removal—dry two days. Then remove from mold, remove the plastic wrap, and let the inside dry thoroughly. I sprayed mine with some leftover paint and filled it with dry lavender cut from my yard. Interesting, organic texture, but it does not hold water.

I am secretly glad it didn’t turn out too well—I will not be keeping bags of dryer lint under my stairs for my grandchildren to find someday.

I have learned that there’s a limit to all good things—even recycling.

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