Monday, July 6, 2009

Making art with recycled materials

Many of us are trying to our best to save the planet by buying green or recycling. As an artist you may wonder what it is that you can do. How about making journals from recycled items. That is just what I did this past weekend.

I used Judy Wise instructions on making a paper bag journal. I decided I wanted a cover so I made a simple cardboard cover. I used cardboard I had saved from Calenders I had previously purchased. It required the use of the Coptic stitch which I had never done before, so I found a tutorial online but then ended up using instructions in a book making book that I had on my own bookshelf. I really liked the simplicity and rhythm of doing this stitch. I think I will make more journals this way.

This is what the spine looks like. It looks like a little chain stitch between signatures.

This is the inside showing the paper bag pages. soon they will be full of paper paint and embellishments.

On a few of the pages I sewed in some pockets just for fun. I am not sure how I will use them but it will be fun to experiment on those pages.

I had done this stencil experiment on a thinner paper bag so I sewed it right on the journal page.

This is another journal I made out of a composition notebook. I removed all the paper and used some old manila file folders to make the pages. I was going to sew it but I kept having problems with the spine so I used my Bind-it-all and made a spiral bound book out of it.

Another thing that you can do is to use up all your paint. If you have any left over on your palette, use that paint as a background color on a canvas or in an Art journal. That way you are not washing it down the drain or tossing in the garbage.

In making a collage you can use of course anything, but how about junk mail and newspaper, greeting cards, or recycle old book pages in your work. I know that people sell collage elements but I think a piece has more life and more impact if its something you found yourself. Once you start thinking this way you will come up with all sorts of ideas.

I also make ATC's out of old cereal boxes. I got the idea from Karen at Art in the Garage. Here is where I tried the technique previously. I now save all my cereal and cracker boxes and so forth to reuse. Sue Bleiweiss has a great free project on making booklets from cereal boxes, check it out here

What is your favorite ways to using recycled items in your art?


  1. This is very smart. I like your paper bag journal. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post Kate. Lots of good tips.

  3. Hey Kate...this is a cool blog has inspired me to try the paper bags as inserts in my "Stencelry" class with Mary Ann. I'm such an organize freak that the idea of paper bag folders to sort all my journal pages makes me very happy! Thanks for sharing, Roberta

  4. Hi
    I like the paper bag journal. At the end of the school year they often throw out alot of supplies. So I manage to recycle what I can and give old crayons/paper etc to students
    to take home for summer.

  5. You always have such good ideas! I save all my cardboard but I haven't made a journal yet. I think it won't be long though because Mary Ann is beginning her new class....are you signing up?

    I love the spray painted page that you sewed into your journal.


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