Thursday, August 14, 2008

Upcycled Paper Journal

Keeping the terminology straight about recycling can be confusing. I usually talk about using recycled paper in my workshops but a more accurate term would be upcycled or repurposed. The term upcycle was coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Wikipedia defines it like this: "Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value."

I love the way making books with upcycled materials forces me to think creatively as my usual methods don't necessarily work. For the journal, I wanted the book to be the size of regular copy paper folded in half and I wanted to use paper that already had writing on one side. My solution was to glue two pieces of paper together with the writing on the inside. It turns out that I really like the feel of turning the thick pages and I can even use sharpie markers without them showing through on the other side.

You'll need two pieces of paper with writing on one side to make one sheet of paper for the book and a glue stick.
1. Place one piece of paper in front of you with the writing side up.
2. Put a line of glue stick glue going down each side.
3. Lining it up as carefully as you can, place a second piece of paper with the writing side down on top and press to help the paper adhere.

You'll need one piece of copy paper with writing on one or two sides, paper for collage, and glue stick and scrap paper. I used pages torn from catalogs, scraps of wrapping paper and old calendars that were in my collage box. Cut or tear pieces of collage paper and glue them to completely cover both sides of the paper.

For best results when gluing:
Place the piece you are gluing face down on a piece of scrap paper (I use pages from old catalogs). Cover the entire surface with a thin coat of glue. Glue sticks are easiest to use and least likely to make the paper buckle. Place the piece glue side down on the cover and rub to help the glue adhere. Fold the scrap paper in half with the glue on the inside so it doesn't get on anything.

Fold the cover and each piece of paper in half. Tuck one inside the other with the cover on the outside.
Or stack them all together and fold them in half with the cover on the outside.
If you are used to more formal binding situations, you may find it worrisome that the pages are sticking out beyond the cover. For me, using recycled materials is also about acceptance and letting go.

Making the Holes

You will need two holes through all the layers of paper and the cover. Because we are binding with yarn, the holes need to be big. It will be impossible to punch through all the layers with a hole punch. You can punch the holes in the cover and then use that as a guide for the rest of the pages.

The holes should be about an inch down from the top and the bottom on the spine. To judge the distance, I put my thumb knuckle on the top or bottom of the book and make the hole right after my finger nail.

You will need one piece of yarn about 24" long. I used it as is but you might find it easier to thread into the holes if you tape one end so that is like a shoelace. A couple of clothespins or other clips to hold the pages together is also helpful.

1. Go into the top hole from the outside of the book.
2. Go down to the bottom hole on the inside of the book and put the yarn through.
3. Go around the bottom of the book to go into the bottom hole from the inside.
4. Go along the outside of the book to the top hole.
5. Bring the yarn to the top of the book and tie the two ends together in a double knot.

You'll need three pieces of yarn, each about a yard and a half long.
1. Fold the pieces of yarn in half.
2. Place the center of the fold on top of the binding yarn knot and tie the binding yarn around the braiding pieces. Using three sets of two strands, braid the yarn.


Fun Facts about Recycling and More
Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water! There are more facts are here. Explore Saint Louis County Resourceful Schools Project site further for information about setting up a recycling program at your school.

How is paper recycled?
Cartoon illustrations and written information take you through the process of paper recycling. You can view it on the website or as a pdf.

Printing Tips
Reduce is the first of the three Rs. Using less paper with your printer is a good place to start.


fibercontent said...

Thanks for this and all your fantastic ideas. I love to make books with my second graders and I will use this idea for their math journals this year.

Sharon Affeld said...

I like this idea because it makes bigger pages. If you want a smaller book you can just fold the sheets in half and staple the open ends together to make a book. Sometimes I use paper that the children have used for art i.e. string painting, and just put words right over the painting. It makes the books colorful and even personalized. Not all art is "good enough" to take home so this upcycles more paper.

Candy Bello said...

what an awesome article!!


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