Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Make an Upcycled Journal {Tutorial}

This is a very simple tutorial that will show you how to turn a cereal box or any other lightweight cardboard box into a journal. This idea is adapted from other great resources, I will share links at the end.

What you will need:

Cereal box, or large cracker box
Paper, 10 to 15 sheets
(I am using obsolete printer paper)
String, or dental floss
Needle with a wide eye
Awl, or other sharp device like a nail for punching holes
Rotary cutter, and/or scissors
Cutting surface

Making the Cover

Step 1:

Cut your box apart on its natural folds, and remove the ‘flaps’ this can be a rough cut, finished edges will be cut for measurements.

You will have two large sides, two small ones and the flaps from the top and bottom, you can recycle all the pieces but the two large ones (or save them for a future project!)

Step 2:

Use a ruler and rotary cutter to the trim edges and cut to desired measurements if you wish to make your book smaller than the box dimensions.

Step 3:

Fold pieces in half; printed sides in, facing each other; use the handle of your scissors or rotary cutter to flatten down your fold; this is the cover of your book.

Making the Pages

Step 4:

Fold your paper into the pages of your book, I am using ten sheets of obsolete printer paper folded in half. Fold about three at a time to get a tight crease.

If necessary, measure and trim your pages to fit approximately ¼ inside your cover. Standard 8 ½ x 11 paper folded in half will fit perfectly within the dimension of a large cereal box with only minor trimming (which I will do right before I tie the pages into the cover)

Step 5:

Nest your pages together and use your rotary cutter and straight edge or scissors to trim the uneven edge of your pages so they don’t overhang the cover

Bringing it all together

Step 6:

Nest your pages inside the cover and center. If you have one, use a binder clip to keep the pages from slipping during the final steps.  Measure 1 and 1/2 inches from the top and bottom of the book at the crease and make a small pencil mark. Use your awl or nail to make a small hole through all pages and the cover.  These are the holes through which you will tie your book together.  

Step 7:

Measure a 24 inch length of string or floss and thread on the needle

Step 8:  

Tie the book together (this is a simplified book binding technique)

From the inside, use the needle to pull the thread through the upper hole.

Step 9:

Then pull it through the lower hole and back into the inner crease of the book.

Step 10:

Pull the thread back through the upper hole

Step 11:

Unthread the needle and thread it through the other end of the string and pull through the lower hole.

Step 12:

Now you will have both ends on the outside of the book. Remove the needle, pull slightly on each end of the string to tighten and tie the ends together.

Your book is complete!


Decorate the cover of your book any way you’d like.  If you don’t care to see Cheerios every time you open it you can paint, gesso or collage the inside of the cover; collage with paper or fabric is also a great way to decorate the outer cover.

Enjoy your 100% upcycled journal!  

You are left with a little collection of fodder, save it for another project!

Here are some additional links to great journal making tutorials:

An Apple and a Tree: Upcycled Journal Tutorial 

Creme da la Craft: Mini Notebook from a Cereal Box

Recycled Cereal Box Journal - Youtube

Live Craft Eat: How to Turn a Cereal Box into a Journal 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What is Garbage Anyway!?

So this, admittedly, is an experiment.  Photos of ‘garbage’, yes definitely an experiment.  I acknowledge that I am not the first person of any genera, artist, conservationist, writer, preservationist, naturalist; to take on the subject matter, or am I attempting, in all likelihood, to be the most effective.  However, despite both of these contingencies, offered mostly because, I am well, photographing garbage, very interested in the idea of what we consider trash.   There are actually some interesting questions here; how do we acknowledge or fail to acknowledge discarded objects, why do we discard things, why do we create things meant to be disposable and ultimately what if anything does all of this say about us. 

This photo record (which will be ongoing) is inspired by my current collaborative work with the Creative ReUse artists of the Rockford MakerSpace in Rockford, Illinois.  We have endeavored to create, for public display, an ‘art’ installation entirely from reusable materials, calling it aptly Garbage In / Art Out.  Last week, as I sorted, stacked and attempted to creatively arrange objects I began thinking about all of the ‘life’ these random things had experienced before they came to be piled up in our in-progress makerspace.   Pieces of this and that, Christmas ornaments, wire, chairs, toys, a variety of decorative items, lamps, bird cages; these things were once new and chosen, they elicited pride, perhaps excitement and were valued.

It is striking that we create so many objects for the purpose of their being discarded.  This was the thought that came upon me this morning as I walked the riverfront path in downtown Rockford.  I gradually realized that all of the things I was seeing lying on the ground, wrappers, cans, bottles, etc., had been made to be thrown away.  Those are the images included below, a recording of random things, dropped, left or otherwise discarded. These things became interesting because I chose to give them my attention, because I started looking at them differently, and that began to give them a new value.  

I suppose in a way most things are made to be discarded, we make most of our purchases with the understanding that eventually that thing will become obsolete for us; the cloths will lose fashion, we will lose interest in the game, the d├ęcor will no longer fit our taste.  It is interesting how value fades, or how it changes.  So is this the factor that determines when and if a thing is to become garbage; when the value is gone?

The even more interesting thing is that value can be made new, reassigned and reconsidered.  And so awaits the collection of dissimilar objects in our makerspace garage, and so awaits almost every object in your current proximity, at some point their value will shift, whether it is when you are done drinking that Coke in a can made to be tossed or when your favorite sweater no longer fits quite right.  This begs us ask two new questions; how do we choose to interact with objects and how do we choose to value them?  So really, what is garbage anyway?     

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fodder for Free Art

In my last post I asked "what is Fodder" and also offered an answer to that question.  In the past few months that question has taken on new life and new activity for me.  Fodder has manifest as this, what you will see in the images below.  Little collections of upcycled tidbits gathered together and offered out for Free Art Friday.  

Fodder has become more than the stuff by spurring the activity of sharing it.  I have shared Fodder in a handful of states and each week in my local area.  The Little Free Library drops have become my favorite, they embody the very nature of this project.  I love looking for the little libraries and the surprise of what else is inside.   

Shared Fodder is about more than sharing bits of materials; its more about sharing an invitation to creative exploration, a subsequent collaboration to my creative exploration of putting it together and dropping it off.  

Fodder is an invitation to explore and play, and invitation to suspend the expectations of art making and be art active.