Money box

“Save” is the word for the world today! Let’s start by reusing old plastic bottles, pen and jar lids to make these cute money boxes. The material that you will need is the following:

– 2 liter plastic soda bottles
– paper tape
moneybox_by_mara_branco– rope
– cardboard
– kitchen paper
– glue
– pen lids
– yarn
– jar lid (~2”)
– spackling paste (optional)
– sand paper
– acrylic paint
– clear acrylic sealer
– scissor
– utility knife

Step 1


Cut the bottle carefully with a scissor and knife to the height that you prefer for your money box (shouldn’t be more than half of the bottle). You only need the bottom. Then tape the rope around the edge that you cut.
On the bottom of the bottle between the bumps make a gap to insert the money.

Step 2


Put the bottle with the cut edge down on the cardboard and mark the size of the circle that will cover the money box. Now cut the circle. Pick up the jar lid and put it on the center of the circle that you just cut and mark a new circle around the lid. This will be later the access to the inside of the box.

Step 3


Cut the pen lids and glue them in the cardboard circle as shown in the picture. You only need three pen lids. This will prevent the jar lid from falling inside the money box. Before cutting the pen lids check the height of the jar lid so you will have the right height.

Step 4


Now cover the bottle with glue and put the kitchen paper all around it. Do the same to the card board circle. Let it dry and then glue them together before covering everything with another layer of kitchen paper and glue. Let it dry.

Step 5


This step is optional. If you want to have a perfect surface without the plastic bottle indents you may cover them with speckling paste and sand it after dried. Then you will have to use a spray prime before painting.

Step 6 – Pom-pom


Although I made this the step number 6 you can do it when you feel like. The best option is to make the Pom-pom between the drying process of step 4 or 5.
Making the pom-pom is nothing new. You just need two cardboard circles with a small round hole in the middle and also the yarn that will go around the circles. Remember that the size of the circle determines the size of the pompom. Once you cover all the circle with the yarn use the scissors to cut between the card circles and tie a knot firmly around the stitches that meet in the center hole. If you need help with this process go to:

Step 7


This is the fun part. Here you just have to use your imagination and draw a cute face. To make the winter hat with a perfect line use paper tape all around bottle to serve as a mask. But do it after you have painted the face with the skin color.

Step 8


When you are done with the painting let it dry. Then spray all over with the clear acrylic sealer.  After drying out the sealer, you may glue the pom-pom on top of the winter hat.

Congratulations! You have a beautiful money box. Enjoy and save a lot :) Give me some …

Christmas Collage


It is that time of the year that we pile a lot of paper advertising all the christmas supplies that we can imagine, and more. Well, this year instead of throwing everything in the recycle bin I decided to do something out of it. I decided to make some collages and here is the result. Not bad, I think … I was surprised, since this is not something that I usually do.

First I selected the images that I liked the most from all magazines, catalogs, flyers, etc. cut them and grouped them in different categories, like colors, shapes, styles, etc. As I stared to do that ideas popped in to my mind, a piece of paper here a piece of paper there  and when I realized a composition was done. Sort of!

Once I had all my images pre-mounted in a paper with the right dimensions and in a place that satisfied me I had to make the background.

I used acrylic paint and painted the background in a different paper. With the background ready and dried I just had to transfer my composition piece by piece and glued them with glue stick on top of the background.

Happy Holidays!


Roses forever


Five roses with lots of love! I received a very precious bouquet that I wanted to keep forever.
In the beginning they looked fresh and smelled good. The fragrance usually goes away quickly and the water that I kept changing was not going to prevented the fact that the flowers were going to fade their colors and eventually die. I wanted to do something! There’s always a way to keep precious things and moments alive, as long it is our will. And I was determined to not throw away my five precious roses. What did I do?
I decided to make a painting with my five roses. And to do that, I first let the bouquet dry completely. Once the roses were dry I cut and aligned them in the configuration that I wanted. Only then I decided the size of the cardboard. The cardboard was used as the surface of my painting and was covered with paper and glue to have a stronger and thicker surface. After applying the primary paint I used acrylic to paint the background. I also applied  some paint to the roses and leafs before gluing them. In the end I sprayed everything with varnish and hung it on the wall. Oh… Thats right! I had to glue two frame hooks in the top corners in the back. Voila!






creativity is intelligence having fun

Jeans bowl

Jeans Bowl by Mara Branco If you are looking for some bowl were to put small things like loss receipts or kids stuff like crayons or little  toys here is an idea:  a funny paper mache bowl. You will need old newspaper or magazines, two paper cups, paper tape, a balloon and the paper mache paste  (flower water and a pinch of salt), acrylic paint to decorate and varnish. First you have to cover half of the ballon with the paper that is soaked with the paper mache paste. Make several layers until you feel a good consistence. Let it dry between layers. When you are done remove the ballon and place the bowl on the two cups and tape it so they will be well attached to the bowl – like two legs. Now cover everything with another layer of paper mache.

Jeans Bowl by Mara Branco Tutorial 1

Once again let it dry very well and then prepare to paint.

Decorate as you please, use your imagination and have fun. Don’t forget to paint the inside.

Jeans Bowl by Mara Branco Tutorial 2

To finish use a clear acrylic sealer to varnish your bowl.

Jeans Bowl by Mara Branco Tutorial 3

Perfect time


It’s time to recycle!

I had an old and broken wall clock so I though into transforming it into somethings more useful.

Here’s how I did it.

Step 1 Break it appart
I had to disassemble the clock, remove all the screws and separate all the parts. Then I cleaned and selected the ones I needed. Only the machine’s clock was to waste, it was old and rusty.

Step 2 Preparing with time
I glued canvas with spray glue to the face of the clock and cut out the excess glue around the edges. Then I painted the background with blue and green acrylic paint.

The frame and hour hands were also painted after sanded with a fine sandpaper.


Step 3 New time elements
I used cardboard from cereal boxes to cut the numbers, the heart and the silhouette figures. Then painted again with acrylic paint.

Step 4 Assemble with time
After all elements were painted and dried, I glued them on the face of the clock, put back the glass and the frame and screwed all the screws again.


Colors in a jar

Colors have a powerful influence in our lives and can influence our mood, having the ability to make us happy.

With that in mind I transformed a jar full of dark stones in a colorful ornament.

Choosing the basic colors like yellow, red, green, blue, etc. I started painting the stones. Them I rolled several pages of news paper to make long tubes that I colored using the same colors. After that I just had to arrange everything in the jar of glass and enjoy the colorful work of art.


Paper Mache Gecko

Who could imagine that this beautiful and colorful Gecko came from a pile of newspaper!

That’s right, with the old paper mache technique its possible to design almost anything!

Essentially paper mache or more correctly “Papier Mâché” (French expression for ‘chewed paper’) is made with newspaper and a mixture of water and flour.

First thing you need is the base form of your project, and for that you may use cardboard, masking tape, balloons for round shapes and any other item that works best for what you decide to make.

Then tear the newspaper in pieces and dip on the paste made of water and flour, and cover your design’s shape. Let it dry completely between layers.

When your are satisfied with the consistency of your work it’s time to start painting. I always start with a first cover of white paint. Then you just have to use you imagination.

This is another great project to work with. Just give it a try!

Recycling Toilet Paper Tubes

Art can be a messy job but it is always fun.

flower box

My new work with the kids brings the recycling principle again. This time besides the newspaper and cardboard we used the toilet paper tube.

It’s amazing to see the things we can do with that! To give you an idea of what we can do just take a brief look at the great work of Junior Jacquet and Yuken Teryua.

Toilet Roll Artwork

Toilet paper tubes art by Junior Fritz Jacquet

Jacquet is an artist that loves working with paper and has created a series of small masks by bending and folding empty toilet paper rolls (*).

Yuken Teryua is 
a Japanese artist who cuts trees out of paper bays and cardboard toilet paper rolls (*).

Toilet Roll Artwork

Toilet paper tubes art by Yuken Teryua

back to my project with the kids. We wanted to make pretty flowers to be applied on a hand made recycled gift box. To accomplish this we smashed the toilet paper tube into an oval shape then we cut it. After this we colored all the pieces and glued them together. Now we were ready to apply the flowers into the gift box.

The gift box was made with cardboard and painted with acrylic. It was made with the exact size to fit mom’s gift. Surprise! When we craft we are able to make creative gifts and also the packages for them.

The kids loved this work so much that they didn’t want to stop. Try it and you will find an endless world of creativity and solutions that will surprise you.

* The information an photos about Junior Jacquet and Yuken Teryua were collected from

Recycled Picture Frame

Recycled Art?
I have recently thought about making a recycled picture frame with my students and give it a try. It really doesn’t take that much time and you can make a nice and original gift to your friends and family that helps the environment.

It’s an awesome idea to recycle things… “It costs at least three times more to dump trash in landfills than it costs to reuse and recycle”[1] and it makes you think in creative ways to use those things and make them practical and look good. These are more than reasons to check this post and trigger your creativity.

I also used this recycled artwork as an education and awareness tool for my students… in short we had lots of fun :)
You can have an idea of how to make a recycled picture frame with the following pictures >>

Picture frame #1

To make a recycled picture frame from scratch we only need cardboard, news paper, glue, paint and creativity. This is what I came up with:

Mara Barnco Arts Mara Branco Arts
Mara Branco Arts Mara Branco Arts

And this is what the kids came up with :)

Picture frame #2

We tried another picture frame style. For this one we need cardboard, an old magazine, glue, magnet, and paint. Here’s my frame:





And the kids work :)

Now we’re finally ready to frame our family and friends pictures in the freezer. Great job everyone!