Saturday, February 19, 2011

"We are not to throw away those things which can benefit our neighbor. Goods are called good because they can be used for good: they are instruments for good, in the hands of those who use them properly." 
- Clement of Alexandria

In our modern, American world we are quick to toss away what we have used for it's original purpose rendering the empty cereal boxes, outdated newspapers, and old bottle caps useless. My own view, however, is that these are the exact type of items that can make for the most fun on a dull rainy day. It's called upcyling: turning waste products into useful things. Even if what we hold to be trash cannot be reused in its original form, with a bit of creativity it can be rejuvenated into a festive, creative, and useful piece. This past week I decided to take on the challenge of creating crafts out of materials found in the average household's recycling bin and I had a great time doing so. Here are a few of the products of my ventures:

This picture frame is made out of a cardboard box, newspaper, 
paperclips, and cut-outs from an old poster.

This refrigerator magnet is made out of a cap from an old plastic container, 
a page from an outdated book, scrap fabric, and a few other things I 
grabbed out of my scrap-booking kit.

This door hanging is made out of a tile, raffia from the wrapping of a 
birthday gift, a cutout from an old magazine, and newspaper.

This is my favorite of all the things I made this past week and I 
am going to take you step by step through the process of 
making it so that you can have some fun too!

The first step is to collect thin cardboard boxes from household items. I found that cereal boxes work the best and kids cereal boxes tend to have a lot of fun colors that really add to the project.

The next step is to cut off the tabbed parts of the boxes so that you can then cut them into straight strips about 1 inch wide. I used a miniature cutting board to help speed up the process. These can be found at crafting stores and they are relatively inexpensive. After cutting the boxes into long strips, use permanent double-sided tape (a glue gun could work well here too) to stick three or four of the strips together to make them a usable length. The length you will need for your strips will depend on the size you would like your box to be. It is always possible to add to your strips later, but it is easier to cut them shorter than to make them longer. I suggest making them a bit longer than you think you will actually need here at the beginning when connecting them is easiest.

Lay out several of your long strips next to each other and begin interweaving other strips in between them. The portion where the strips are woven is going to be the bottom of your box so you can adjust 
the number of strips you use here according to the size you would like your box to be.

One you are satisfied with the sizing of your box bottom, flip all of the strips over and begin folding the unwoven portions upward. These flaps are going to be the foundation for the sides of the box.

At this point you will need to create more long strips to weave into the sides of the box. I found that the weaving process was easier if I added a small tab of tape between every couple of weaves. Once you start working with your own box, you will get a feel for what makes things easier for you. Keep in mind at this stage that a tighter weave is going to create a more supportive box.

Once you reach the height you want, cut the excess strips down to a uniform length and fold them in, securing each one with a small piece of tape. Then create one last long strip to line the inside of the basket and hide the loose ends.

Whoala! Now have a festive and useful box and you've saved multiple
 cardboard boxes from going into the recycling bin. 
Upcycling at its best!

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. It's such a good and innovative way to use those boxes, I am definetely going to try this. It also looks great:)