I forgot to pick a category

Dingle Danglers

such a helper

I think I could write a book on all the fun things you can do when re-purposing toddler art. Maybe I will someday. But really, my book should be about how well watercolors soak into cheap IKEA roll paper and how prettily it can be cut up into other things.

I love this stuff. I can’t rave about it enough. If you like to draw or paint, then you know exactly what I mean when I talk about how the texture of a certain kind of paper can excite you. Okay, maybe that’s just me but I think I’ve read about others feeling this way too. Sometimes it’s the way the pen feels scratching along the paper or maybe it’s how bright vibrant blue watercolor soaks into it or how easily it cuts with a sharp pair of scissors. It’s almost like the paper is crying out, “Paint on me! Draw on me! Cut me up! Have your way with me!”

I don’t know that there is anything particularly special about IKEA paper. It’s heavier than regular butcher paper I’ve bought at supply stores (like Smart & Final) and a bit more porous. It soaks up paint well but it isn’t rough and fibrous like regular water color paper. (Your paint will definitely go through it and get whatever is behind it sopping wet but it won’t fall apart like toilet paper. You just let it dry and it’s good as new.) Here’s a close-up…it’s almost sort of hairy.

It isn’t really watercolor paper at all. If you are a real watercolorist you would probably hate it. I think it’s meant to be used with cheap student-grade acrylics or finger paints but I don’t care. It’s my favorite paper that I have discovered since becoming a mom. And it’s only $7 for 130 feet. I think it’s fantastic.

art waiting to be re-purposed

I keep Baby Bug’s easel set up on our patio day in and day out. Sometimes her artwork gets a bit weathered but only minimally. (We do live in the land of no weather, after all.) What’s nice about having the easel up at all times is that she is free to paint any time she wants and because it is just water and a palette of cheap grocery-store watercolor tablets, it’s never very messy. I don’t have to stress about her running inside and pouncing on the couch covered in red paint. It’s happened but it usually washes right out.

So because the easel and paint are always there, we have a LOT of paintings. I never throw them away. I fold them up neatly and stash them in the closet for another day. Sometimes the stack gets a little out of hand and then I pull them out and make something out of them.

modeling for mommy

Today we made window “dingle danglers.” I’m sure this has been done before and I’m sure there is a much more fitting name for them but that’s what we call them. They hang in the window and “dingle dangle” of course. Baby Bug came up with that name so you can take up your problems with her. I’m sure she’d be glad to discuss it.

All you do really is just cut a circle from a colorful part of a painting. I’m partial to the aquamarine sections. For some reason that particular color is the most vibrant and pretty in my opinion. Then you cut around and around and around until you have a spiral like this:


paper sculpture

Then you can bunch them all up and take macro shots and pretend they are really cool complicated paper sculptures or you can hang them in the window and stand back and say, “How pretty!”

boing boing

I think they would work really well for an under-the-sea theme party. You could paint some green and some blue and it would look like water or sea weed floating around. I suppose with brighter colors, you could drape them horizontally from corner to corner in a room and make them look like party streamers. Who needs make a trip to the party store when you can just re-purpose paintings that you probably wanted to throw out anyway?

they're pretty!

I can’t promise you they’ll stay up for long. But they will provide at least a few minutes of entertainment for you, your kid and possibly your cat.


  • Annika

    Thank you for the tip about the IKEA paper! I bought some way overpriced crappy paper at Michaels and swore “never again” but I didn’t know where else to look. Did you get her easel at IKEA too or do you have a better suggestion?

  • Jennifer

    I need to go to IKEA and get some of that paper. The girls keep stealing Jeremy’s computer paper. We have all of their artwork in the kitchen dining area. I think they’d love to take it all down and do the dingle dangles as a replacement. We could eat under them, hahahahaha.

  • Photographer Lori

    So funny about the paper texture/type. Darrell will spend hours in the art store touching the paper, writing on the samples, painting on the samples, touching again…I can’t go in art stores with him! Drives me crazy! :)

    Glad you’re back!


  • Calee

    I love your repurposing ideas! I finally transformed one of my daughter’s paintings into a couple of birthday cards.

    We have a little ikea table with leftover large format printer drafting paper and crayons out all the time. I’m too afraid to give her constant access to paint since 99 percent of the time the paper is on the floor. I think come birthday it will be time for an easel on the patio!

  • lynne

    Hurrah for dingle dangles, I remember making them. Also I will pass on my party trick. It is entirely possible using the dingle dangle cutting technique for a grown up person to pass through a peice of paper the size of a postcard.. it’s true! Bend the post card in half and carefully cut a square sided spiral, not too thin else the paper will rip and voila! you have a big hole you can step through.

  • BeachMama

    We have that same easel. I has been set up in our kitchen for years and only gets used occasionally, so I have now replaced it with a bench and it will be sent down to the basement. Watch J will want to paint every single day now…

  • Deb

    What the heck were you standing on to get that last photo?!

    SAJ says: the arm of the couch of course! And then I fell off and broke my head. Just kidding. But I did set a bad example for BB. Arg. Stupid photo!

  • Barb

    Could you use this paper for giftwrap? Or would it be too heavy?

    SAJ says: It works great for gift wrap! I’ve wrapped many presents this way. I even sold some for a while! I might have to do that again, seeing I have such an abundance…

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for another fun, artsy project to do with a kids! I posted about it on my blog today, but needless to say, my four-year-old always gets excited when she sees that I’m on your site. When I showed her these this morning, she said, “Mom, I really love that little girl” about Baby Bug. Hilarious, no?