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Making Things as a Way to Make Money

By - 2004 - 2013

Making things to sell doesn't have to involve learning difficult skills. Sometimes it can start as nothing more than simple assembly rather than true artistry or craftsmanship. You can become more artistic as you work at this, of course. Here are some examples of how to make some extra cash from things that you can make at home.

Make Jewelry

I have friends who make and sell elaborate, expensive jewelry. We are not as artistic (at least I am not), or our tastes aren't as rich, but a decade ago my wife and I used to regularly make and sell simple pendants at flea markets and craft shows. Our jewelry often involved just tying a string to a pewter figurine. There's probably more money to be made in the well-crafted, fancier jewelry, but there is a market for all types.

One easy and interesting piece of jewelry to make is a coin pendant. Many coin shops have a basket or bucket of foreign coins that they sell for as little as 25 cents. You can look through and pick out the shiniest and most unusual ones. Where we bought our coins they were 10 cents each or three for 25 cents. Some odd ones were square or triangular, while others just had great designs. In any case, it you have a power drill, you just need to drill a small hole in each. Attach a nice piece of craft string and you have created a pendant that can sell for up to $5 (although $2 will still make for a nice profit).

Seashell Art

Sea Shell ArtThe photo here is of a driftwood-and-seashell craft that my wife bought for $10. They usually sell for more than that, but the artist was a neighbor. She simply collects the shells on the beaches around here (we currently live in southern Florida), and glues them to pieces of driftwood or wood that is collected from forests. The investment to get started in something like this is time and a few dollars for glue and gas to get you to the beach. You can wait until you sell a few pieces to friends before risking the booth rental fee necessary to sell them at an arts and crafts show.

Yes, it helps to have an artistic flair when doing this. On the other hand, the primary thing that gets people buying these is the wide variety of colorful seashells that they display, so you could even start by simply gluing rows of various shells to a nice piece of wood. Use a glue that can also be used to coat the shells to make them shine more.

Pewter Figurines

You can buy pewter wolves, dragons, turtles, lighthouses etc., from several companies online. Smaller pieces can be bought for about 20 cents each. My wife used to put these on rocks, shells (the mermaids) and glass gems using E-6000 glue (but there are many different brands that will work). We sold them for $2 to $10 each at craft shows and flea markets. The kids in particular love the dragons on glass gems or agates.

Pewter Lighthouse
Pewter Lighthouse on Rock

Walking Sticks

Find a friend who wants his property cleared of the weedy young poplar trees. Bring a saw and knife and start cutting walking sticks. When I was doing this I could make about forty walking sticks in a day with the easy woods like poplar. I bought old leather coats at thrift stores, cut them into strips and used these pieces to put handgrips on the sticks after they had dried for a few weeks. The addition of wood burned designs, feathers, inset rocks, and other touches made for some pricier models, but I had my best luck with the sticks that sold for under $15.

I sold my hiking sticks for up to $22 and wholesaled them for as little as $4 for the very basic ones, but you can search online right now and see that $70 and $80 prices are common for some hand-carved staffs. My own venture took place about a decade ago, when my wife and I sold our various creations at craft shows and flea markets. I also wholesaled the walking sticks to buyers who then sold them at pow-wows and gun-and-knife shows.

PVC Bow and Arrows

Cut a piece of half-inch plastic pipe to about 3 feet long, put a slit in each end and put a piece of nylon twine on it. It is now a bow. I know a man who used to sell these for $6 at pow-wows and flea markets. He dresses them with colored tape and includes one arrow made from a dowel and pointed pencil eraser.

Sandstone Coasters

I don't make things to sell any longer (unless you count my books), but I do still like to create things from natural resources from time to time. Just prior to leaving Colorado in 2012 I started collecting sandstone pieces while out hiking. I ground them down to make flat coasters for setting drinks on. I glued cheap felt to the bottom. I'm not sure what they would sell for, but I imagine that if someone used the right tools (I just ground them by hand on a cement block), and lived near a good supply of sandstone like I did, these could be made quickly and easily. They're attractive, and the stone soaks up perspiration from the glass, so it doesn't run over the edge and onto the table.

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