eco craft center


You know I have a thing for cool jars.  Even better, I love saving the ones we use.  So I decided to do something productive with our old jelly jars I’ve been {secretly} saving.  There they are holding the colored pencils.  I bet you’re asking, “this family eats that much jelly?” Yes, we do.  My husband has a serious weakness for this particular blackberry preserves on English muffins.  But in our defense I’ll remind you there’s six of us and the collection took about two years to create.

I love the shape and size of these jars, so tossing them out has not been an option.  Confession:  I’ve gone behind husband and retrieved a few from the trash.


Every day after school, our older two offspring come home with a good bit of homework.  This is no problem, but requires my one on one help and focus.  But it leaves the little two left idle.  Never good.  So I thought I’d make a little craft center for them to sit and stay “busy” while I focus on the big kids’ homework.

They can cut, play with playdoh, color, or build blocks.  It’s amazing how creative they love to be when they have these choices at their fingertips.  Yes, they make a mess.  One time, after working on two pages of math word problems with our eight year old, I turned around and our four year old had cut about a bazillion small pieces of paper and it was everywhere.  I bit my tongue.  And he helped sweep most of it into the dust pan.  I kept telling myself, “he was being creative!”

Again, I didn’t buy any new materials for this station, just recycled and reorganized.


Pippi loves projects around the house.



I grabbed our coffee table and made it their table.  Then took a European antique tool tote I already had and filled it with the recycled jars.  I thought it might be interesting to group the colors.  The BEST part was letting little one do this job on her own.  She spent a long time doing this and absolutely loved analyzing each color.  It was a great exercise!  I totally recommend doing this with your child sometime. 

I also noticed that when any of the offspring color now, they enjoy deciding
“which green” or “which blue,” etc. to use since the selection is now more condensed.



Another benefit of this station is that it’s just their size and the perfect spot for their own occasional homework.  Breaking up into two groups of two is good.  Ever tried watching four siblings sit at the same table at the end of a long day?  It can get very unpretty.

Today we did her reading assignment here.



The book she is coloring in is the coolest creative book I’ve seen yet.  It’s wide open creativity – no boundaries.  It’s actually quite sophisticated and simple.  She loves to color in it.  I do too!  It was one of her birthday gifts from a friend.

Here it is.  You can pick one up here.


Next I’ll show you my progress in the laundry room closet.

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  1. Erin says:

    Oooh I love this! Gets my creative juices flowing just seeing pictures of all those pencils! What a great station!
    Thanks for the book info too…I always need great gift ideas for the creative little ones in my life! :)

  2. Melissa says:

    The colored pencils in the jars make me crazy for color! FABULOUS idea!

  3. Andrea says:

    Are the colored pencils from the 500 pencils that you get in monthly doses? I really want to color again…

  4. Grace says:

    I adore those pencil crayons organized by colour. It makes me want to go and buy school supplies. I’m a bit anal about organizing things and lining things up, so I can totally get into your little craft caddy.

  5. Kelly says:

    Oh I love it! And I love how you have to be a secret hoarder! When I was hoarding pasta sauce jars to use for M&Ms for a party, I too had to hide my problem so my husband wouldn’t call the crazy police.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Kelly! Thanks for making me laugh. And not feel so hoarder-ish.

  7. Cricket says:

    I use the french jam jars with the red gingham tops for drinks-on-the-go since we are trying to get rid of plastic. But they do take a long time to collect! Never thought to use for the pencils/pens/crayons.

  8. Karena says:

    Seleta, I love what you have done and you are just the greatest Mom!!
    The jars are perfect for the colored pencils.
    Art by Karena

  9. Frances Jackson says:

    Seleta, Brilliant idea, and lovely too! Inspires the little ones to get those creative juices going. Oh my secret shame, I too am a glass jar “keeper”, I refuse to go down that hoarding road. After all, we’re being good citizens, reusing, recycling, reducing and all that. I am trying to get away from using plastic for food storage, so I use my glass jars for leftover storage, among other things.

  10. Debra says:

    I save pretty jars too-I love the way all of the colored pencils look. Thank you for the tip on Squiggles-I know a little girl that will love this! Now- could you PLEASE show and tell us more on your lovely coffee table/art-center-table? Reminds me of Quartermaine fabric.

  11. KJ says:

    This looks amazing, much better than anything at PBK. Thanks for sharing the idea. I have been hoarding Costco White Linen pasta jars…

  12. Chrissy says:

    Wow!! How inspiring! I want to sit down and color with those pencils! Right now all the kids’ crayons are in one plastic bin. And their markers are in another. I’m going to figure out a way to display them better than that!!! Your solution is gorgeous!!
    What is in the large bin to the left of the pencils?
    Thanks for showing us your organizing solutions … I can’t wait to see what else you have come up with!

  13. Absolutely practical and beautiful! It’s such a great way to inspire creativity.

  14. Rachel Ridd says:

    This looks great! Today, you have inspired me to start saving my jars.

  15. modgirl says:

    way cool! i want my own eco craft center:)

  16. Just one question: how to add your blog into my rrs reader, thanks so much.

  17. Beth says:

    I love the colored pencil set up. I feel like I need colored pencils in jars now !!!

  18. Bonnie says:

    Just title this comment “Confessions of a Dumpster Diver”. I, too, have retrieved “attractive” jars from the recycling bin/trash can, etc. My husband is a “use-it-up-and-throw-it-out” man. I’ve even been known to hide said jars until I find a use for them. But, not all my containers are pre-used. We recently went to the Container Store together (this is not something I make a habit of–shopping with my husband unless it’s for jewelry) and he asked: “What do you need a container for?” My answer: “I don’t know but if I find a container I really like, I’ll buy something to put in it!” Now I need to go buy some colored pencils.

  19. pve says:

    Oh you are the dearest Mommy! I would so love to be one of your little crafter’s!

  20. jbhat says:

    Your jelly-eatin’ family is just so lucky to have you!

  21. simplygrove says:

    I love everything about it Seleta!!! xx

  22. Christie says:

    What a great idea! We have all of our crayons/colored pencils in a big basket, and it is a big, fat mess!

  23. Cecile says:

    Why do I have a sudden urge to collect jelly jars and buy lots of colored pencils in every color imaginable? Oh right, because you have a way of making everything looks so pretty Seleta! Thanks for the great idea!

  24. Brittany says:

    I love the way this looks!! Love the jar organizers. Such a cute idea. I’m linking this post to my blog for future reference. Thanks so much!

  25. Sommer says:

    our art supplies live in our old bonne maman jars, so i completely understand how one family can accumulate an egregious supply of used jelly jars!!
    also, could you take a picture of the table without the chair…i’d dying to see the painting on the sides!!

  26. Rae Grant says:

    Beautiful colors!

  27. Lily Perry says:

    Amazing! You’ve totally inspired me!!

  28. Maria says:

    I collect jelly jars too…but I like the mason type with a handle…pottery barn had them a season or two ago, but I found them with jelly inside. :)
    And that scribbles book! I love those…we have another one that I may have to hunt down…I think my kids may have forgotten about it…

  29. Michelle H. says:

    Simply Sensational!

  30. Me ha encantado como todo lo que haces!!

  31. Anonymous says:

    iGracias tanto!!!

  32. flora says:

    What beautiful photos! I love your idea of organizing the pencils by colour!

  33. carlee says:

    Thank you. I am not the only one sneaking back to save jars. I have an entire box of jars for things just like this. I haven’t been around in a while, bummed I’ve missed out on all this good stuff. Catching up!
    LOVE what you did.

  34. kayce hughes says:

    Please tell me that your kids don’t put the pinks back with the pinks etc.

  35. TellaLuca says:

    Selita, stumbled on this by way of another blogger and thought of you and this post:

  36. alice says:

    Seleta, I love your children’s play table and chairs. Can you share where they are from?

  • Simply Me

    SeletaI‘m Seleta, a city girl living the beach life with my family. A former TV personality turned designer, I love to share the sparkly side of life. Read more here.
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