Category Archives: Upcycled

Washer Suncatcher/Wind chime

I made it through ANOTHER round of the One Crafty Contest! I still can’t believe I was voted in as a contestant let alone that I’ve made it so far! Thank you to everyone who has been voting and sending me kind words of encouragement. You can find all my past projects and read about my participation in the contest HERE.

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime
The latest round required us to use glitter. My entry was this washer and cookie cutter suncatcher/wind chime. It was NOT, however, my first project, and was really only half of what I wanted my final entry to be.

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime
(it’s  hard to make out the letters without the glitter coloring each letter)

I worked SO hard on garden art made out of washers. I spelled out the word “bloom” with different sizes of washers and made the curves of the letters into flowers. I had the whole thing glued together (I even super glued my finger to a cookie sheet in the process). I had the washers glittered, but then I moved it to keep it safely away from my kids, and the whole thing broke since the super glue wasn’t set yet! I had planned to make it the top of my wind chime instead of the rod I used. So instead, I added the cookie/fondant cutters to my final project so it wasn’t so plain. I guess it was meant to be though, because the final project was good enough to put me in the top 5!

This project was actually pretty easy, but really time consuming. It required A LOT of drying time.

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime
I covered cookie sheets with aluminum foil and then put wax paper on top. I started by laying out the different sizes of washers until I had a pattern I liked. Then I decided how many colors of glitter to use and what order they would be in. I filled the center of each washer with Mod Podge. It worked best to fill it with a thin layer, but not so thin that it would pull away from the sides as it dried. To prevent drips, I filled a children’s oral syringe with the Mod Podge. It worked perfectly! I filled the cookie cutters the same way.

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime
Then I sprinkled on the glitter and waited, and waited, and waited for it to dry. Because of the deadline for the contest, I ended up putting the cookie sheets in my oven on the lowest temperature to speed dry the Mod Podge. The cookie cutters were especially slow to dry, so they spent several hours in the oven! I would have preferred to let it all air dry. The oven made some of the wax paper fuse to the back of the washers. The ones that did air dry popped right off the wax paper.

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime
(here you can see the wax paper that fused to the back of the washers and some undried glue in the cookie cutters)

When it was mostly dry, I shook off all the extra glitter. The Mod Podge dries clear, so it created a little window in the middle of each washer with suspended glitter (unfortunately the pictures don’t show this well). Then I laid out all the washers the way I wanted it to look in the end, but upside down so I could glue strong fishing line to the back of each piece.

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime
I primed and spray painted a wooden dowel in a metallic silver to match the washers. I tied on each string of the wind chime, measured carefully so they were evenly spaced, and then glued each of the tied strings to the dowel so they wouldn’t slide around. All that was left to do was hang it up!

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime

DIY Washer Suncatcher/Wind Chime
(So pretty! I actually used ultra fine iridescent cosmetic glitter for all the white pieces to give it extra sparkle!)

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

Your opinions and thoughts mean a lot to me.  I would love for you to leave me a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by today!

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Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, One Crafty Contest, Spray Paint, Upcycled

Junk Mail Paper – Part One

I love it when you can take something completely useless that you would otherwise throw away and make it into something functional and beautiful!  One of those useless items is junk mail!  Usually it’s covered in print, so it doesn’t make good scrap paper, especially if it has personal information on it.  Then it’s straight to the shredder or rip it up before tossing it.  You COULD give it to your little ones and let them have fun scrunching it and tearing it up, but that’s about all it’s good for, right?  Well….. I’m going to show you a few awesome things you can do with your unwanted mail.  This also includes any used scrap paper, old bills to be shredded, leftover homework, tissue paper that no longer looks pretty, toilet paper (unused!), paper towels (unused!), and almost any type of paper that you would otherwise throw away.  I’m going to do this as a series of posts, so this doesn’t get super long!

First off, we’re going to recycle that paper into new paper!  Already recycle your unwanted paper? Awesome!  Unfortunately, we don’t have recycling pick up services in our area, and recycling ANYTHING means hoarding big piles, lugging it to the recycle bins at the dump, and waiting in line since everyone seems to do it on the weekends! So, to be honest, we don’t recycle as much as we used to since living here.

Junk Mail Paper - Part 1 of a series.  Paper making and other ways to recycle junk mail!
Have you ever seen that pretty homemade paper that looks like linen?  Or has colorful thread or dried flowers in it? Or maybe you received a wedding invitation on plantable paper with seeds in it?  Most of the time what you’re looking at is homemade paper.  And what is homemade paper?  It’s just the process of recycling old paper!  And that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.

Don’t get overwhelmed by this.  It is very easy.  Once you have all of your tools and supplies assembled, it’s really easy to pull them out each time you want to make paper.

First of all, you will need a mold and deckle.  Huh? What’s that?  For your benefit, I’ve included a glossary of terms at the very end of this post. Go check it out.  I’ll still be here! You can purchase a mold and deckle kit at most craft stores.  However, I’m going to show you how to make one for a fraction of the cost.  If you would rather buy one,  skip down 3 pictures, and start reading where it says, The Supplies.

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The Supplies
1.
two empty wooden frames – one bigger than the other (check your thrift stores and yard sales!) I recommend small frames for beginners and then working up to a full size sheet of paper.
2.
window screen
3.
hammer and short nails or a staple gun
4.
scissors

The Directions
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Place the window screen on top of the larger frame.  Nail it down or staple it while pulling the screen tight in all directions.
You can see in my picture that this frame once had a screen on it.  It got a lot of use and wasn’t as tight as I wanted, so I put a new screen on.

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Using a scissors, cut the window screen around the frame.  You now have a mold!  Easy right?  Put the mold and deckle (smaller frame) off to the side while we get our paper making supplies together.

The Supplies
1.
paper to be recycled
2.
a plastic tub that is wider and longer than your mold and deckle and preferably has a lid
3.
large spoon
4.
a blender
5.
heavy towels (like bath towels)
6.
several thick sponges
7.
several pieces of white felt
8.
water
9.
heavy books or equivalent (optional)
10.
a paper shredder (optional)
11.
an iron and ironing board (optional)
12. wire kitchen sieve (optional)
13. Ziploc bags or similar (optional)

The Directions
I recommend doing this outside. You can do it inside. Just pick a place that has water friendly surfaces.

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If you have a paper shredder, awesome! If not, you can tear your paper into small pieces.  I would try to stay away from really thick paper especially if it has shiny print.  Remove the plastic from envelope windows. Magazines and newspaper are ok!  The mix of paper you use will determine what your new paper will be like.  You can mix different kinds to get different thicknesses and textures.  What I’m going to show you is the SIMPLEST form of paper making.  There are so many fun ways you can do this and things you can add to your vat or mold.  Let’s keep it simple for now.

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Fill your tub with warm to hot water.  A lot of people skip this step and go straight to the blender.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  Your blender won’t have to work so hard and you’ll get smoother pulp.  Add your shredded paper. This is an awesome kid activity!  M did a lot of this himself.  Obviously, children should not use a paper shredder, and young children should not use a blender.

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So I’m going to stray one step from simple, but it’s still easy.  One of the easy ways to color your paper is to add a little bit of shredded, colored tissue paper.  This batch will produce lime green paper.  I have a lot of junk mail envelopes with the blue security print in this batch.  Basic color mixing: blue + yellow (tissue paper) = green. If you use white printer paper with a lot of black print on it, your paper will usually result in an off white color (linen).  Just like most things that are wet, your pulp will be a lot darker in color than what your finished dry paper will be. Use a large spoon to push all of the paper under the water.  You can definitely use your hands if your water isn’t too hot.  M loved this!  The paper will stick all over you though.  Let the paper shreds soak in the hot water until they are soft.  This only takes minutes for regular printer paper. Thicker paper will take longer.

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This batch will come out gray and will be featured in other parts of this paper making series.

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Scoop your softened paper into the blender.  M’s open mouth expression.. “Ohhh, cool!”

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Add some of the hot water.  There are no specifics to this.  You just need enough liquid to help puree the paper. You don’t need to add anything else.  The bonding materials in the original paper are enough to bond new sheets of paper. Blend it up. Yay for outdoor outlets! For beginners, I suggest blending it as smooth as you can.  Add more hot water as needed and stir it once in a while (while it’s off). If you’re worried about dulling your blades, use a separate blender just for paper making (again, check your thrift stores and yard sales). Keep the leftover water in the tub.

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I’m not going to lie to you.  The pulp is going to look pretty disgusting. Especially if you’re not using fun, bright colors. This is the gray batch again and will be in the pictures from here on out.

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Pour the pulp back into the tub.  Don’t worry if you have a few leftover shreds of unblended paper in there.  It will just add character to your new paper.  Just pour a little at a time.  You’re going to have to experiment with how much you need when you make your first piece of paper.  I always add more warm water at this point too.  It helps to have several inches of the water/pulp mixture in the tub.  You’re going to be sticking your hands in this, so warm verses cool water is a personal choice. Put a thick towel folded in half next to your tub.  Have your felt and sponges ready.

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Get your mold and deckle.  Put the deckle on the center of the screen on the mold.  Hold it by its sides so you’re pinching the 2 frames together. Try not to touch the screen.

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This next part might be hard to understand.  So if you have questions, please ask in the comments below.  While holding your mold and deckle, submerge your hands into the vat.  Gently swirl and stir the pulp to try to evenly distribute and suspend the fibers in the water.  Don’t create large waves. Now lift your hands out, and with the water moving, scoop the mold and deckle down to the bottom of the tub. In other words, start with the mold and deckle at a 90 degree angle with the deckle facing away from you.  Insert it into the water starting at the side of the tub closest to you, and using a scooping motion, move it to the bottom of the tub so it is flat again.  The goal is to get underneath as many of the fibers as you can.  Then gently stir the water again, moving your hands towards you and away from you.  Take the slightest pause in the middle of the tub and immediately, but gently, pull your mold and deckle straight up out of the water while keeping it level.  Whew! Did you get all of that?  Again, if you have questions, please ask!

It’s actually really easy!  That whole process only takes 5 – 10 seconds. If you can get your pulp evenly distributed, and pull straight up, you’ll have an even sheet of paper on your mold.  This is where you’ll need to decide if you should add or take away pulp to get the desired thickness of your paper.  The more paper you make from one vat, the more pulp you’ll need to add.

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Let the excess water drip off of the mold while you hold it over the tub.  You can tip it slightly to let water run off the corner.  While keeping it straight, lift the deckle straight up and off of the mold.  Put a piece of felt on top of your newly formed sheet of paper. If you’re making small paper, put it close to the edge so you can fold the felt on top of it in a later step. You can also turn your mold upside down and put it on felt that way.  The paper won’t fall off and will stick to the mold.  Put it on the towel.  The felt should be in between the towel and mold so the back of the mold is facing up.  Take your sponges and start sponging up excess water.  Squeeze them out periodically into your tub.  Switch to dry sponges and let the damp ones dry to speed up the process.

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Next is to couch the paper.  For beginners, the easiest way is to keep sponging and replacing the towel if needed until the mold pulls away leaving the paper on the felt.  If you have little patience like me, you can sponge it to a point where you can peel the paper off the mold.  This is a little bit risky.  The wet paper will easily tear and it might fall wrinkled onto your felt.

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Here is a fully couched paper.  See the wrinkles?  Oh well.  It’s also normal for some to stay behind on the edges of your mold.  This is especially true if your deckle wasn’t flush with your mold.  In this case, my nails were too long and prevented the deckle from completely touching the screen. Once you get the hang of it, you can really produce a lot of paper fast.

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All that’s left is the drying process!  You can let it dry naturally or do a few things to speed it up.  I like to fold my felt over the paper.  I can usually fit two pieces of paper per piece of felt.  If your paper is bigger, just place another sheet of felt over it.  With an iron on low – and I stress LOW! – you can  iron over the felt to dry more of the water. Craft felt sheets are synthetic and will toast if your iron is too hot.  Ask me how I know!

From here you can leave it in the felt to dry.  You can also stack the felt and put heavy books on top to help them dry flat.  Let me tell you, your paper will take days or even weeks to dry this way! So another option is to open up the felt, tip it over, and let them peel off onto a water safe surface to dry.  I like to use my ironing board, because once they are dry, I iron them flat (iron on low!).  This is similar to ironing sewing patterns if you’re a sewer.

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(This picture shows wet verses dry)
You could really speed up the drying process by using the iron directly on the wet paper.  This takes practice and skill.  At all costs you want to avoid actually ironing the paper, but instead press it with the iron (again on low!).  Trust me, your paper will crumble and stick to your iron if you at all rub the iron on it while it’s wet. Always leave a corner peeking out of the iron so you have something to grab onto to pull it off.  Your paper won’t evenly dry this way and you may end up with some scorch marks.  But it’s a good method for the brave and impatient!

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Experiment with different colors and textures.  Veer away from the simple and add embellishments to your paper!  You’ll have a nice pile of paper like this with natural deckle edges! Some of these have some yellow thread in them.

Now, don’t throw away your vat of pulp!! First of all, you can save it and make more paper with it in the future or mix it in with other vats.  Second of all, I’m going to show you some awesome things you can do with that pulp in other installments of this series. I’m also going to show you what you can do with your new paper.

To save your pulp, you can just cover it up, but only do this for the short-term.  Otherwise, pour the contents of your tub into a wire sieve.   Do this outside and NOT over your drain please.  The sieve will collect the pulp the same way the screen on the mold does.  You can use your fist to squeeze a lot of the water out.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Store your wet pulp in an airtight Ziploc bag or something similar.  So far, I’ve had batches of mine keep this way for 3 years and counting.  I just use what I need when I want it.

If you’re not already following me or subscribed by email, make sure you are so you are notified of other installments of this series!  You can find the email subscription link on the top right side of this page. And one more reminder: if you have questions about this project, PLEASE ask, and I will do my best to answer them.  Now start recycling your junk mail and I’ll meet you back here for Part 2!

Glossary of Terms
Mold and Deckle
– A 2 part frame used to make the paper.  The bottom part is the mold.  It is larger and has a screen on it.  The upper part is the deckle.  It determines the shape and size of the paper.
Pulp
– A mix of plant fibers and water.
Vat
– The container that holds the pulp from which the paper is produced.
Couch
– (pronounced “cooch”) The process of transferring a newly formed sheet of paper from the mold to felt.
Deckle Edge
– The natural, untrimmed edge formed on the paper by the deckle.

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

Your opinions and thoughts mean a lot to me.  I would love for you to leave me a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by today!

20 Comments

Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, Kids' Crafts, Paper, Upcycled

Mail Center – Upcycled Formula Tubs

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Here’s a project I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting to do.
It involves spray painting, so I’ve really just been waiting on the warm weather.
Just when I think it’s getting warm enough to spray paint.. NOPE!.. we’re hit with a blizzard.. in the middle of April!
Well, we’ve had 2 days in a row that have been in the 80’s, and no snow in the forecast.  So I figured it was finally time to conquer this upcycling project!

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Here’s the plan:  to turn formula tubs into a mail center.  Are you excited? Here’s the how to..

The Supplies
1.
clean, dry formula tubs
2.
spray paint that adheres to plastic
3.
scrapbook paper or fabric
4. scissors and ruler or paper cutter
5. lettering – stencils, cutouts, stickers, stamps, vinyl – you choose
6. glue – I used Mod Podge
7. soda can tabs
8. hot glue

The Directions
Start with clean, dry formula tubs.  If you can’t get your hands on some formula tubs, I’m sure there are other items that would work.  For instance, the french fried onion tubs are similar, but just a little smaller.
(Let me just say, I’m all for breastfeeding!  But my health and the medications I take made that a challenge for me, so that’s why I have these tubs)

Carefully pop the covers off.  If you do this too fast, the little plastic rods will snap and go flying.  The covers are fairly easy to take off.
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Spray paint the tubs.  Mine only took one coat, but it was a paint and primer in one.

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You may want to paint the insides to give them a more uniform look.

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Next, take your scrapbook paper or fabric and cut it into strips.  My paper was 12 x 12.  It wasn’t long enough to wrap all the way around the tub, but enough to cover the sides that would be showing.
I cut my paper at 3.5 inch intervals.  So my strip size was 12 x 3.5.  You can of course make wider or narrower strips depending on how much of the paint you want to show or how big your letters are.
My paper cutter has been on the winning side of hide-and-seek since we moved to this house almost 2 years ago.  I was pregnant at the time, so family helped pack us up, which resulted in not knowing what went in what box!  There’s a lot of hiding items yet to be found.  So I had to cut my strips in the more time consuming way.
I could only get 3 strips out of one paper.  So for the fourth strip, I started up 1 inch from the bottom of a second piece of paper before cutting my 3.5 inch strip. That way none of the 4 strips would be identical.
Does that make sense?  In other words, if I hadn’t done that, my first and fourth strip would be identical because they would be cut from the same edge of each piece of paper.

—–
I forgot to take pictures of this next part.
Glue your strips to the tub.  Put glue on the center of your strip and position it on the front center of your tub.  I found it easier to not have glue on the whole strip while I was trying to get it in the right position.  Once you’re happy with where it is, glue down the rest of the paper.

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Then I got my lettering ready.  It took me awhile to decide how I wanted to do the letters.  At first, I wanted to stencil them on with a creamy white paint that matched my scrapbook paper.  But when I tried it out on a scrap piece, it didn’t come away with clean edges.
So I decided to go vinyl!  This was actually perfect, since vinyl is repositional, you don’t have to worry about crooked, unevenly spaced letters.
Unfortunately, I’m not blessed to own a Cricut or Silhouette, so I used the same method I used to make the monogram for L’s nursery.  You can read about it HERE.
I traced letters on to the back of my vinyl, making sure to trace unsymmetrical ones backwards. (ignore the extra markings in the picture, they are leftovers from a different project) Then I carefully cut out each letter.
Now add your letters!  Mine say:  OPEN, PAY, AWAY, ITEMS.  Short words worked best for me, but yours can say what ever you want.  Other examples: IN, OUT, PENS, KEYS, SUPPLIES, STAMPS, COUPONS, RECEIPTS.

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We’re not only going to upcycle the tubs, but upcycle some soda can tabs! They will be used to hang the tubs to the wall.
There are different ways of doing this.  The most common way is putting a screw through the little hole on the bottom of the tab to attach it to your item.  Well… 1. I can never get the tabs off with those little circles in tact. And 2. I didn’t want an unsightly hole going through the container.  I opted for hot glue.
I bent each tab slightly while holding it over the edge of my kitchen counter. Then, I marked the same spot on the back of each container as a guide, and glued them on.  I added an extra layer of hot glue on the top to really bury the tab in glue.

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Now hang them up, be proud of your work, and enjoy the organization!

We were in desperate need of a mail sorting system.  We usually have random piles sitting around the house…
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Like this one on the kitchen counter…

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and all this opened mail that’s invaded the wine rack.  There’s usually a pile or two on the dining room table, too….

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But this is just so much better!  And now you have a sneak peak into our kitchen makeover!

Thanks for stopping by today! If you have any questions about this project, please put them in the comment section.

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

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Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, Kitchen, Kitchen Makeover on a Budget, Upcycled