Magnetic Junk Pictures


Junk seems to proliferate in our house – by junk I mean those small items or bits and pieces, often unidentifiable, which seem to appear on surfaces, and which if left, seem to multiply as if breeding.  It’s tempting to throw them away, but if you are so rash as to actually do this, you can guarantee that shortly after you will find that the unidentifiable piece of junk was actually an essential and irreplaceable part of a piece of household equipment.  So not wanting to tempt fate, I tend to put them into a ‘holding device’ of some kind, a pot, box or drawer, just in case, which gradually fills to overflowing. This of course equally guarantees that these mysterious items will never ever be needed, so I have gained mountains of it.  However I have now, finally, found a use for it, by using it to create junk pictures.  The art, and indeed the fun, being to use the junk, completely unmodified to create the elements of your picture. This I found is actually quite challenging, but children seem to be quite good at it – their imaginations transforming the most humble and unlikely of objects into something completely different.

This kind of junk modelling is a recognisable genre in sculpture – we took the photograph below at the Eden centre in Cornwall while on holiday this year.  The same idea but on a rather larger scale! Robots seem to be especially popular for this kind of treatment.  Here’s our version – not quite as impressive, but you have to start somewhere:


Now of course you could just glue your items onto a piece of card, but by making your junk magnetic you can extend the fun to create lots of different pictures using the same items. You could use a piece of sheet metal as your canvas (particularly if you want it to be portable), but it’s not necessary to do this, as your fridge will provide a large ready-made canvas for the purpose. The self-adhesive magnetic tape is available either on a roll, or as a sheet which can be cut to any size or shape you want.

When selecting your items of junk you have to consider several things:

  • Safety (this obviously relates to the age of your children, but things with sharp edges/corners/bits that stick out a lot etc. are best avoided).
  • Weight – the magnetic tape isn’t especially strong, so items with any weight are not advisable, though you can use stronger individual magnets instead if you’re really keen to use a heavier item.
  • Ease of attaching magnetic tape – hollow items (such as bottle tops) might need to be packed with cardboard before attaching the tape, depending on which way round you use them.  Also, the item does need to have enough flat surface area which will be in contact with the metal, in order to attach the tape.

More Ideas

And finally, moving away from junk, here are a few more ideas for magnetic art:

  • Glue children’s artwork onto card, cutting out the figures and pieces of scenery etc. and attaching some magnetic tape to the back.  In this way children can create different pictures and scenes on the fridge using their own artwork.
  • This idea also works well for things like dress up dolls, cutting out different elements of costume to mix and match.
  • If children don’t want to use their own artwork, they could cut up some old comics and use some of the figures in the same way.

The possibilities are endless….. Have fun!

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10 Responses to “Magnetic Junk Pictures”
  1. Suze says:

    Love this idea!
    Magnetic art is great. Manchester City Art Gallery have a similar concept in the children’s interactive area.
    I always make a beeline for it ( whether I’m with the children or not 😉 )

  2. Genius! L is currently obsessed with fridge magnets – she’s going to love this idea.

  3. jude says:

    I have to confess, that interactive was partly what gave me the idea for this – it always seems to be quite popular.

  4. Jude, these are GORGEOUS as all your crafts are! Thank you for linking up! Will also feature them in “Recycled Get Crafty” Out in Jan!

    Thank you!


  5. This was featured on the Crafty Crow – today. Congrats!
    I loved these to bit! Using magnetic tapes is much better than gluing them. Thanks for the wonderful tips. We have to try this one. We have a drawer full of ‘junk’ and we often make recycled art from those.

  6. It is nice to know that I am not alone in my experience with mystery items that seem to overflow from my “junk” drawer. I really love this idea and I know that my kids will as well…thanks for sharing!

    (I, too, found you via Crafty Crow.)

  7. Great ideas! Love it, thanks for sharing

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cathy James, Cathy James. Cathy James said: Take junk, add magnets, make art. I love this idea from @ArtfulKid http://bit.ly/huRsje […]

  2. […] I Jude at Artful Kids, does make some beautiful things. And who would have believed that “junk” could indeed be so much fun… take all your junky bits and make these junk magnets – create infinite combinations of characters on your fridge. Now these are stylish and kind of beat those Alphabet magnets. Visit Jude and read more. […]

  3. […] love this interactive Magnetic Junk Pictures.  How great would they look on your […]