Recycled Zipper Pulls and Luggage Tags


It’s a new school year and new backpacks and jackets have been purchased- but it’s only a matter of time before my kids yank the pulls right off of the zippers! So I’m getting the jump on repairs by making some fun, recycled ones that the kids can personalize.

We’re building the base on an unlikely substrait- Formica samples from the home improvement store! You can pick a few up the next time you’re there, and if you ask nicely, you can probably snag a whole chain of samples that have been retired! I like them because they are light, strong, and heading into a landfill unless YOU rescue them and get crafty!

zipperpulls 008

That being said, you’ll need:

  • countertop color chips (from the home-improvement store)
  • Mod Podge
  • Acrylic Paints, Pigment Pads, and Embossing powders
  • foam paintbrushes
  • old comic books, canceled stamps, or other recycled images and/or
  • stickers, glitter glue (stuff you have lying around!)
  • Mod Podge Dimensional Magic
  • Split keychain rings or zipper pulls

Begin by removing the sticker on the back of the chip (the wood-y side). Usually with just a little water it will peel off. Paint the back with 2 coats  paint  that coordinates with your image  and let dry thoroughly between each coat, using a foam brush.

zipperpulls 002

Cut your  image from a comic book, magazine, or cancelled stamps to fit on the chip. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge on the painted side, then apply your image. Spread another thin coat on top. After it’s dry,  put on one more coat. Then, if you like you can decorate with Sharpie Marker, put some Stickles glitter glue on, or apply a monogram sticker.

Use Mod Podge as a layer UNDER and OVER your images.

Make sure top coat of Mod Podge seals everything down.

Finish off with a nice coat of Mod Podge Dimensional Magic, avoiding the hole.

Aileen's Paper Glaze goes on milky, but will dry crystal-clear, raised, and shiny!

Let it dry 24 hours and then put your key chain through the hole, and fasten the small ring onto your zipper! (Use pliers to twist open the ring and thread it through.)

zipperpulls 006

You’ll also notice that the sample on the upper left is watercolor paper that’s been painted with Extreme Glitter Paint. I have a tendency to use watercolor paper as my dropcloth on my studio table. I work on it until the whole surface is covered in stamps, glue, glitter, whatever…and then I cut it up and use it in fun projects like this one. More recycling!

I got so carried away, I made another trio using recycled sheet music & some more palette paper:

Voila! Cute, functional, and Earth-friendly! These are great for kid’s backpacks or on luggage. Have fun!

Editors’ Update 2011: I received a lovely email from the folks at Wilson Art- yes, the brand of sample chips that I was using – and this is the email she sent:

Hey Jenny:
We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your project shown here! And although you id’d them as “formica” we can tell (from the shape) that they are really Wilsonart samples – thanks for the nod! Rather than posting on your page, I thought I’d run an idea past you….
Those samples you can pick up at the home center are really selling tools. So we’d really rather people not pick them up for craft projects (believe me, if you knew how many of those we have to make every year, you’d be shocked!). ON THE OTHER HAND, we have LOTS of samples each year that get “retired” and we’re always looking for ways to up-cycle them to arts and crafts programs. We’d like to tell all your readers that they can call us anytime, and we’ll be glad to ship them off a bag of out-dated samples for their projects – FREE! We’d rather see them go to a good, creative purpose than to the trash.
If you like the idea, would you post our 800 number (800-433-3222) – or let me know and I’ll be glad to post it? (I didn’t want to post anything without checking with you first – I know you don’t want a lot of commercial stuff on your page).
Looking forward to hearing from you!
So there you have it- FREE sample chips! Have it it….and tell them CraftTestDummies sent you!
If you are considering purchasing products to make this craft, I’d appreciate it if you used my affiliate links:

About Jenny

Chief Craft Test Dummy, Craft Evangelist, Founder, Editor, bottle-washer, trouble-maker, and creative whirlwind.


  1. says

    I bet these would make really cute ceiling fan pulls, too! I’ve needed something pretty and the pulls you can buy at the home improvement stores are expensive, poorly made and not very pretty. Thanks for the idea!

  2. says

    I have been using a few of the floor samples (I had only taken 6 so I don’t feel so bad) since the winter, and since reading your post I have called and asked for 24 retired samples! Thanks to Alison for her information.


  1. […] In addition to the numerous project ideas you’ll find here, there are also reviews of crafting materials, discussions about crafts-related news, and more. Some of our favorite gift ideas here include a unique travel journal (perfect for a gift or for your own use), loom-knitted Santa hats, and zipper pulls and luggage tags made of recycled materials. […]

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