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What are Some Crafts to Do in Prison?

Don't let incarceration snuff out your creativity.
prision-4129 image by Paco Ayala from Fotolia.com

Regardless of how you found yourself behind bars, you likely want to pass the time doing something constructive and enjoyable. Luckily, many prisons offer craft materials on the commissary, which is a collection of items that can be purchased with money from your inmate account. These types of materials can be used to complete craft projects of several types.


Use paints from the commissary to create artistic renditions of your life inside or outside of prison. Find the beauty or the darkness in situations, and paint their story on your canvas or paper. Paint your family from memory, as you saw them. Paint abstract images based on feeling alone. Paint types available in your institution may include watercolors, tempera, acrylic or oil. Experiment with different types of paint to find the one you are most comfortable with.

Photo Frames

Traditional glass and wooden photo frames are not permitted within prison cells. This can make it difficult for you to display the photos of your family and spruce up your cell. Make your own photo frames with paper to hold pictures of family, Bible verses or meaningful quotes. Cut two rectangles out of thick paper, exactly the same size. Cut a smaller center rectangle out of one of the rectangles to make a frame shape. Apply glue to the edge of three sides of the frame shape and place it over the other rectangle. Slide your photos into the unglued side. If you do not have glue available to you, as it sometimes is disallowed, use toothpaste. It will work the same way as glue once it dries.

Greeting Cards

Make some greeting cards to send home to the family and friends that you miss. Fold sheets of paper in half and use pencils, colored pencils and paints to decorate the cards. Practice your penmanship on scrap paper and write poems, quotes or heartfelt messages on the cards. If you create some professional looking cards and you become more interested in the design aspect of greeting cards, send the cards off to major greeting card companies that accept amateur submissions. You may even receive a contract with one of these companies, creating a career for yourself.


Some prisons have art teachers available as well as full-service art studios with all of the necessary equipment to create and fire ceramic pottery. Martha Stewart showed her prison pottery skills on her television show, following her five-month prison sentence. She made an entire nativity scene while incarcerated. Make decorative objects, like nativity scenes, or create mugs and plates to use once you get home.

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