Unique Uses For Plastic Straws

Plastic straws aren't just for drinking any more. Why not use a few to make a planter mat, child's toy, or artist's paintbrush drying rack?

The common household straw is not just for drinking; the following crafts are simple to do, and make attractive additions to any home or school. Straws come in such a variety of colors and designs that there is really no limit to the crafts you can create from them.

Planter mats

One effective way to keep planter with rough edges from scratching your furniture is to make a mat of straws. This project will require yarn, straws, white glue, a large book, and scissors. Choose straws that match or complement the colors in the room where the planter will be placed. If the planter is a round pot, the straw can be cut shorter to make a square planter mat. If the planter is a long rectangle or oblong, one variation is to alternate the ends so that every other end sticks out to form a jagged edging. Lay out the straws side by side, with 5-6 more straws than the planter is wide. It may help to leave one edge of the straw mat hanging about two inches off the end of the table it is laying on; lay a large book on top of the straws to help keep them from slipping sideways as weaving is performed. Take a long strand of thick yarn and begin weaving it over and under one end of the straws. When the row is completed, bring the yarn back down the row using opposite straws for the over and under motion. When there are five rows of yarn in the weaving, cut the yarn and glue the end underneath or at the back of the last straw. Repeat process at the opposite end of the straw mat. Using the same color of yarn will show uniformity, alternating colors of yarn can create patterns. This mat will last about 2 years before becoming flattened in the area under the planter. In the meantime, furniture is protected in a decorative fashion.

Garden and House Plant Supports

Some plants tend to droop if they have heavy blossoms or large buds on them. This project requires green or clear straws, a carpet-cutting knife or X-Acto art knife, and a ruler or yardstick. Take the straw and cut it down one side from top to bottom. Measure the stem that needs extra support, fit the straw around the stalk This device will lend extra support to those large flowering plants with small stalks, while not interfering with available sunlight or causing an unattractive garden. Since the straws are plastic, they can withstand wind and rain.



Eye-Hand Coordination Toy

Supplies needed include a straw, pencil, one double-ended peanut in the shell, a small drinking cup, glue, and yarn. Use the pointed end of a pencil to punch a hole into the center of the bottom of the paper cup. Cut a 15-18 inch length of yarn and knot one end. Thread the unknotted end of the yard into the cup and pull through until the knot touches the inside bottom. Tie the other end of the yarn to the middle of a peanut. Using the pencil again, make a hole in the side of the cup about three-eighths to a half-inch from the bottom; this hole should be big enough for the straw to fit into snugly. Apply glue around the hole on both the inside and outside of the cup. Insert the straw and place newspaper or a book under the straw so that it is supported straight out from the cup. Let air dry for 20 minutes. When the glue has dried, hold the toy by the straw handle and see how tough it is to land the peanut inside the cup. Makes a great birthday party favor.

Artist paintbrush drying racks

Supplies needed for this project include 2 drinking straws, 1 or 2 pound coffee can, and duct tape. Clean out a metal coffee can that has one open end with a dull inside edge. Take the two straws and cut them in half. Place two straw halves pointing the same direction, side by side, about 2 inches apart, on top of the open end of the coffee can. Put them with the ends hanging off either side of the circular top. Bend the ends down and use duct tape to secure them to the side of the can. Take the other two halves of the straws and place them in the opposite direction, like a tic tac toe game board, on top of the first two straws. Bend the ends of the straws down to the side of the can and secure with strapping tape. After cleaning the brushes, stand them on their ends in the can, with the brushes facing upward. This makes a convenient way to store cleaned, drying paintbrushes. The metal part of the brushes won't rust from touching the can sides because they are inside the tic tac toe straw arrangement, which is plastic. The can catches the run off drips of water, so there's no mess.

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