Roll your own and save the planet

Since Earth Day 2010 is today,  April 22nd, I thought it would be fun to do a recycle/reuse project here on the blog.

Lots of people call it “upcycling” when you repurpose otherwise discardable materials into something useful; and as a frequent hoarder <ahem> rescuer-of-landfill-bound items, this is music to my ears. I pretty much say “don’t throw that away, I can use it later” about 10 times a day. Just ask my mother…

Anyway, enough about me and my tendencies…Many of you will probably be familiar with recycled rolled magazine housewares, such as frames and bowls and coasters, and the above frame is just exactly that. It is made from rolled strips of a mail-order catalog that we were no longer using. Even if you take yourself off of every mail list there is, you’ll usually end up with at least a few leftover magazines or catalogs at some point. Glossy ads in the Sunday paper will count in this category too. So, when you feel like getting rid of some excess paper, but you want to keep it out of the landfill, this project is for you. Please click the link for the tutorial. Thanks all and happy Earth Day!

So, to start off, you’ll need some catalogs or magazines that you have finished reading/ordering from. Try to flip through these materials to make sure that you’ll have some vibrantly-colored images to work with. It makes for a more interesting project. As a side note, this frame was made with only one catalog, so you don’t have to worry that you won’t have enough material to make a colorful project with only one catalog or magazine.

Other materials used for this project include:

  • a glue stick (I used Elmer’s extra-strength disappearing glue)
  • a bamboo skewer (you can use a skinny dowel for this if you don’t have a skewer, or a pen if you don’t mind a wider paper roll)
  • tacky glue (I used A.C. Moore brand tacky glue)
  • scrap paper of a recycled/recyclable nature
  • Some scrap cardboard (I always hang onto the cardboard inserts that come in my orders)
  • Scissors
  • A store-bought frame from the dollar store* (This one’s optional; you can always make a frame out of cardboard and popsicle sticks or whatever else you’ve got around that seems sturdy; Please see below)
  • Some heavy books or canned food (there’s a real reason I promise)
  • Mod Podge decoupage medium for optional “weatherproofing”*

First you’ll want to choose a page with some bright photographs. Tear the page from the catalog.

Fold the page in half lengthwise and make a sharp crease with your fingernail or a bone folder.

Unfold the page, and fold the paper in the other direction lengthwise, and again sharpen the crease.

Unfold the paper again and tear along the crease. Try to put firm pressure as close to the crease as you can on both sides as you tear, and tear slowly. If you tear too quickly, you run the risk of tearing your paper away from the line you made with your folds. If you mess up, don’t worry. You’re not working with expensive materials after all.

Fold one of the two halves you just made in half width-wise this time and sharpen the crease. Unfold, then fold in half widthwise in the other direction, just as you did with the full page.

Tear along your crease.

Fold this quarter of your original full page in half width-wise one more time. Sharpen the crease. Unfold and fold width-wise in the other direction. Sharpen the crease.

Make your final tear.

Starting at the bottom of your torn strip, roll the paper around a bamboo skewer. Keep in mind which side of the paper will actually be showing once you have rolled the strip and plan accordingly.

As you roll, try to keep your paper as tight as you can around the skewer. Try to avoid rolling the strip at a tilt, and try to roll as horizontally as you can.

Once you get to about this far from the end of the roll, stop rolling. Keep your place, and grab a glue stick.

Spread your glue right up to the edges of your rolled sheet, making sure to get glue into the corners.

Press firmly along the edge of the roll for 20 seconds or so. Don’t squeeze the roll too hard though, it is hollow after all. Remove your paper tube from the skewer.

Don’t worry if you end up with a bit of  fuzz on the end of the roll, you can fix that as shown below.

Push the fuzzy end of the roll down into the center of the tube, and roll the tube a few times from side to side, keeping firm pressure on the ends of the tube.

Soon you’ll have tons of these brightly colored paper tubes to work with.

Once you have a good-sized collection of paper tubes, you will probably want to lay them out just to see how they will fit on your frame.

I didn’t actually use a store-bought frame for this project, though it is of course an option. I just traced a frame I had onto I piece of thin cardboard. I then glued on some magazine paper, as shown below. This project is 100% recycled except for the glue.

Now cut some scrap paper into a strip as shown. No need to be fussy with it. It should be wide enough that you can fit your paper tubes onto it and still have paper showing on both sides. For each segment of my criss-crossed pattern, I used segments of 9 paper tubes across.

Spread a line of glue along the middle of the strip. I used tacky glue.

Place your tubes along the glue strip.  Press the tubes down firmly for 20-30 seconds and then move on to the next set. You may notice that your strips might be slightly different in length. Try to line them up as evenly as you can, but don’t stress if they’re not perfect. It will only add to the handmade quality of the item. I didn’t really line these tubes up that well now that I look…but no biggie.

Once you have put all of the individual segments of tubes together, and the segments have dried, cut off the excess paper on either side. The excess paper was just for ease of handling.

Now, glue the segments down to your frame. I used A.C. Moore tacky glue for this. If you have a pre-made frame (which can easily be purchased at the dollar store) just glue your rolled paper tubes right to the frame, and skip the popsicle stick step below.

Place your frame on recyclable paper on a flat surface to dry. Top the frame with a sheet of recyclable paper (such as computer paper), then place heavy books on top. In this way,  the glue will not warp your frame or your paper tubes as it dries. Check your frame periodically to make sure that no paper has stuck to your frame. If it has, try to peel it away carefully.

Flip your frame over and tacky glue some popsicle sticks along each edge of the frame to stabilize it. You can skip this step if using a store-bought frame. If you are using the popsicle-stick method though, be sure to put the heavy books back on top of the frame while the glue dries. Glue does have a tendency to contract a little as it cures, which can warp your work if you’re not careful.

Once the popsicle sticks have dried on,  you could paint the front of your frame with Mod Podge to “weatherproof” it, but this step is optional. This is an indoor frame, and chances are it won’t be seeing much “weather.” But the frame will be more protected from wear and tear with a coating of Mod Podge.

Now you can put in your photo. If you used the popsicle stick and cardboard frame, you can either tape in your photo, or you can use a product called “scrapbooking corners” to hold your photo in place. The scrapbooking corners will make it easier to change out your photos.

If you like, you can use a scrap piece of corrugated cardboard to prop up your frame once the glue has completely dried. You can brace the cardboard on one of the four popsicle sticks on the back of the frame to keep the frame upright.

Now sit back and admire your Earth-friendly handiwork. Happy Earth Day all!


2 Responses to “Roll your own and save the planet”

  1. 1 charmingreader April 29, 2010 at 1:43 am

    What a fantastic idea! Thanks!

  1. 1 Smokin’ hot « Owl with Balloon Trackback on October 29, 2010 at 5:28 am

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