Creative Prompt: Use What You Have

One of my favorite creative prompts is to simply use what I already have on hand. I open up my craft drawers and start playing. It's the best ever.

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This week on The Creative Play Challenge, we’re going to do one my favorite things. Our prompt is to use what you have to make a project. Yes, of course I love new craft supplies. At the time of writing this post, I’m looking forward to Jane Davenport’s new line of paint materials like you wouldn’t believe. BUT, there’s also something to be said with using what you have.

I’ve written about this subject before—how your craft stash can actually supercharge your creativity, for instance—but today I’ll share five examples of projects that were made from supplies I had on hand. The biggest takeaway here is to PLAY and have fun.

P.S. For those who are literal thinkers, no you don’t have to use what you have if the item you need is critical to the project. Making chocolate cookies without the chocolate chips would be just plain sad.

Thanks to my mom, many of my projects employ the “use what you have” principle. So, thank you, mom.

One of the first prompts we did for this challenge was to make a set of artist powerup cards. A friend of mine had bought a set of artist cards for me a while ago, and I used watercolors, some old letter stamps, and a gel pen to make them.

I love these. I especially loved rediscovering the stamps. I don’t even know how many years it had been since I had taken them out of their plastic box. Poor little stamps! And you should have seen how my daughter’s eyes lit up when she saw me using them. Love at first sight.


The “harvest moon” pictured below was also made with supplies I had on hand. I had bought a small wooden circle from the craft store a long time ago thinking I was going to paint a family picture on it. But it ended up sitting forlornly in a drawer for several months until I remembered it one day. I painted it with gesso, let it dry, and then experimented with markers, water, and salt. (Here’s the full tutorial; it’s super easy.)


The project below was inspired by a post (or maybe it was an Instagram photo?) by Alisa Burke (who always has amazing projects to share.) Anyway, I thought I’d do this with my daughter one afternoon and ended up loving the technique so much I’ve used it for my art journals ever since.

I took several tubes of paint I had on hand (fabric, acrylic, etc.) and squeezed dots over the surface of the paper. Then I pulled out a sheet of plastic wrap and pressed, smeared, and then lifted up the wrap and did it all again. What was left was a delightful print that I’ve used as a background for art journaling.


These tissue paper flowers were made from tissue paper we received in a gift last year.


And finally, this card was another happy accident. I was art journaling and squeezed too much paint onto the paper I was working on. (Often I squeeze the paint directly into the journal instead of using a palette.) Anyway, I was trying to think of a way to get rid of the extra paint and the thought of making a card came to mind. I dropped a plain white card into the paint and carefully peeled it up. I ended up making three textured cards because of that.


I’d love to hear what projects you’ve made as you’ve used what you had on hand. Go ahead and share your creations in the comments!

And have a lovely {and creative] day!

2 thoughts on “Creative Prompt: Use What You Have

  1. Ooh, I pretty much always use what I have! I mean, what other choice do I have? Even though I love craft shopping, which I do sometimes. But it really opens up lots of ideas to limit myself to what I have on hand!

    1. Maggie, you’re my hero. 🙂 I so agree that using whatever you have on hand can make you extra creative. 🙂 Hope you have a great week!

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