Making and Selling Natural Handicrafts
By Steve Gillman
There are some natural handicrafts you can create without
a dime of investment in materials. For example, when we lived
in Tucson, Arizona there was a man who took a leaf or two from
any nearby palm tree (there were a lot of them), then folded
and twisted them into flowers and animals, which he sold on the
street. Years later we still have the palm-leaf rose that we
bought from him (they dry really nice without losing shape).
The scorpions were perhaps his most elaborate creations, but
were a bit pricey.
Now, this page is in the money making ideas section, so it
is entirely speculative what you might make, but here are some
more possibilities for low-investment or no-investment natural
In Florida we have seen amazing seashells laying all over
the beaches. Some are the right shape to be used as a vase for
dried flower arrangements. Check just above the beach in fall,
winter and early spring for pretty dried plants and flowers.
Put them in a seas-shell-vase and sell the bouquet for a few
In the upper peninsula of Michigan there are fantastic pieces
of driftwood scattered along the shores of Lake Michigan and
Lake Superior. As kids we used to use larger ones as the base
for artistic creations that included glued-on clam shells, dried
flowers, and little houses made from other pieces of drift wood.
We sold them at street fairs.
A Palm Leaf Rose
In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California the cones of
the Sugar Pine grow up to 18 inches long. I saw hundreds of these
huge cones laying around the base of the pine trees when I came
down from Mount Whitney. I just checked a website that sells
them, and they are asking for up to $50 for one cone (for the
ones that are a foot-long). You might add value by making something
with them as well.
I used to make bracelets out of spruce roots. String-sized
roots can often be pulled out of the ground in two-foot lengths.
The bark strips off easily, leaving very flexible whitish roots
that can be braided into necklaces or bracelets or who knows
what else. They stay fairly flexible when they dry (at least
they don't break easily).
I once cut huge pieces of white birch bark off dead trees
on the ground (the bark lasts for many years with deteriorating).
I took the bark home and used scissors to cut it into bookmarks.
A paper-hole-puncher put a hole in one end, so my wife could
tie a piece of ribbon to each. She also decorated others with
ink stamps. We sold them at craft shows and flea markets.
How Much Can You Make?
Apparently the money is in giant pine cones, although just
collecting and selling them doesn't fall under the category of
natural handicrafts. The guy who did the palm-leaf-origami charged
as little as $2 for roses and as much as $12 for the elaborate
animals (the scorpions really were the coolest ones). If he sold
25 in a day averaging $6 each, he would make $150 from free leaves.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Wholesaling creations that can be made quickly is one way
to make more money. For example, I could probably have made hundreds
of the birch-bark bookmarks in a day, but it was slow going selling
a few at each flea market (of course it was also just one of
many things we sold). It might have made more sense to sell 100
at a time for $40 (.40 each) to gift stores that could retail
them for $1.
A small investment in materials can make your handicrafts
much more salable. For example, we sold pretty rocks, but they
looked much better when we coated them in a glue to make them
Find a supply of some natural material that is abundant, and
make something of it. Then look for a place to sell your work.
Basic Dried Flower Arranging: All the Skills and Tools
You Need to Get Started, by Leigh Ann Berry, Michael Radencich,
Jassy Bratko, and Diane Hershey - Stackpole Books 2003
- Look at the prices large pine cones get.
- Page covering several natural handicrafts you can make.