What We Were Doing With Peppercorns (and lentils, popcorn, rice, and peas!)

by Kristen on May 2, 2012 · 17 comments

in Crafts

Well, we were making a bit of art, as part of my monthly do-a-craft-with-Sonia-and Zoe thing I’m doing this year. We made fancy paper snowflakes in January, glitter playdough in February, and, um, nothing in March.


But we did squeeze in this April craft (I’m posting about it in May, but I’ll have you know that we did do this in April!)

My mom used to let my siblings and me make these when we were kids, but this was the first time I’d shown my kids how. They were pretty skeptical at first (“What are we going to make with peas, Mommy???”), but they all had a delightful time.

This is a great way to use up pantry staples that are past their prime, and I hereby declare that if you use those things to make a mosaic, they are officially NOT food waste.

To make these, you just need to spread ordinary all-purpose glue to make whatever design you want.

A heavy duty piece of paper works best for this as thin paper will become quite wobbly once the glue soaks in a bit.

Then you can sprinkle or carefully place your dried food of choice on the glue to make your design.

I remember making abstract designs that covered my whole paper when I was a kid, but all of my girls chose to make pictures.

In case you were wondering, the peppercorns are smoke coming out of Sonia’s chimney.

And her sun has no rays because as she said, “Mommy. Realistic suns don’t have those.”


Duly noted.

Once the glue has dried, you’ll probably want to gently shake the papers over the sink or trash can to make sure all the loose pieces come off. This will reduce the number of peas and lentils you’ll find on your floor while the art is displayed.

After your pictures have finished gracing bulletin boards or fridges, you can just stick the whole thing in your compost bin (I don’t normally compost grain foods, but the small amount on these pieces of paper doesn’t worry me.).

I hope you and yours have fun with this easy project.

P.S. Lisey and I baked a no-yeast loaf of bread to share with you today.


Today’s 365 post: A missive from an untidy room

Joshua’s 365 post: Micro (I really like this one!)

Leave a Comment

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 WilliamB May 2, 2012 at 8:34 am

Why don’t you compost grain-based foods?


2 Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) May 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I second the question! I know baked things aren’t good compost items, but I hadn’t thought of the seeds.
Really cute idea, by the way, I have a jar of split peas that I’ve been saving for a reusing project, and this fits the bill! Thanks!


3 Elizabeth@ReadySetSimplify May 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

Very cute! :-)


4 jen S. May 2, 2012 at 8:58 am

This is great! I recently have found some out of date grains and were holding onto them as I thought we could do some sort of craft project with them. I just had not figured what. Yeah for summertime craft activities! Thanks Kristen!


5 Carmen May 2, 2012 at 9:00 am

Those pictures look lovely!

We’ve moved on a bit from food art and play dough, but my 10 year old still does something along these lines most days. Our dining table is always covered in art supplies! I know this craft project is a ‘conscious activity’ on your part, but don’t your girls just get on with this type of activity themselves, as part of their daily free time? Do you include this type of thing in your teaching? Those grain pictures would work well during Thanksgiving for example, tied in to harvest.


6 Erin May 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

Fun!! I remember doing art projects at school similar to that except using different kinds of dried beans.

Erin @ dutchgirldiary


7 Jo@simplybeingmum May 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

I’m sold…guess what my Kid’s will be doing this weekend? ;-)


8 {Adventuresindinner} May 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

I love this craft. We did this as kids and my mom kept them for ages C:


9 Kathy May 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I use to do this when I was a kid. I also use to do the entire page. I remember they were on a piece of heavy construction paper over a piece of cardboard, then framed under glass. Mom had a whole wall of these seed/grain pictures in our dining room. They really did look nice. I had completely forgotten about these until your post. Now I’m off to dig through the family photos to find pictures of them. Thanks for the memory jog.


10 Heidi @Adventures of a Thrifty Mom May 2, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Well, that takes me on a trip down memory lane. :-D


11 Renee CA May 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm

My boys made rainbow pictures out of grains on a wooden plaque at summer camp one year. We moved and they ended up being stored under our bed. One night we were awakened by the crunching of little mice teeth. Be careful where you store them! :-)


12 Karen May 2, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Thank you so much for the link to the composting entry!


13 Heidi May 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Thank you so much for this timely post on mosaics! I was just in a quandry as to what to use to make mosaics at our VBS this year, except I think we will keep it to just beans (I can envision a great mess with anything smaller). Thanks again for the inspiration!


14 Renee CA May 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm

You can use alphabet macaroni to put sayings or names on the pictures as well.


15 Kristen May 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Oh, right! I remember using macaroni as a kid.


16 Lisa May 3, 2012 at 3:24 am

A fun twist on this kind of a mosaic project is to also incorporate spices. Just spread the glue on the area you want to “colour” with the spice, sprinkle it on like glitter, let it dry a little and shake off the excess. This adds another sensory dimension to the art, which is especially nice if spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, etc., are used. I don’t recommend garlic though, as it makes the art a little too pungent to enjoy! This might not be a particularly frugal use of spices, but if you have ones that are past their prime and need to be used up, at least they won’t just be thrown out.


17 Mairsydoats May 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Depending on where you are in the country, many county/state fairs have “Seed Art” categories. Pretty amazing, if also amazingly kitsch.


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