Pumpkin Decorations Made from Recycled Books

Have a bunch of old books laying around? Give them a new life by creating unique pumpkins, perfect for autumn and Halloween decorations!

This is a great way to give new life to books that are falling apart, torn, missing covers or pages, or would have otherwise been thrown away. The books I used  were given to me by others who did not want them anymore and were planning on throwing them away – it was a little tough to cut up a book, but I feel pretty good about making something beautiful and useful out of them, and saving them from a landfill! 🙂

There a a few different techniques that you can use to color the pumpkins, depending on how color-saturated you want them (and how much time you want to spend creating them ).

MATERIALS

Old paperback books

Sticks

Orange ink pad

Orange acrylic paint

Large mixing bowl

Exacto knife

Hot glue & glue gun

Sheet of paper

Scissors

Green felt

Brown Cloth Stem Wire (can be found in the floral section of any craft store)

DIRECTIONS

On a blank sheet of paper, draw and cut out a pumpkin shape (keeping in mind the size of the book you will be using and that the book will need to be able to stand up, so don’t make the bottom completely rounded).  Pull the front & back cover off the book. Open the book  to about halfway through, and then trace the shape onto the book pages. Use an Exacto knife to cut out the pumpkin (you may have work your way through the book doing this, cutting several pages at a time).

 

 

Once your pumpkin shape is cut out, it’s time to give it some color! Decide which method you want to use (if you’re making more than one, you may want to try a different method of adding color for each one):

Rub the edges with an orange stamp pad. This is by far the quickest, easiest and least messy method, but it just gives the edges color, so a lot of white will still show through.

Dip the edges in orange paint. Water down orange acrylic paint to dilute it and put it in a large mixing bowl or other container. Test the orange color by dipping a sheet of paper in – add more water or orange paint to make it the color you like. Then, just close the book and dip the cut edges in. You can dip as little or as much as you’d like – the deeper and/or longer the book gets dipped in the paint, the further the color will soak up into the pages. If you want the book pages to be entirely orange-tinted, dip the whole book in the paint (this produces a really cute look, but it took almost 2 days to dry completely!).

 

Once the book pumpkins are are completely dry, it’s time to make the stems and leaves that will attach to the top. Cut out a few leaf shapes from green felt and hot glue a small length of the stem wire to the back of each.  Use some more of the wire to create little curly spirals that will also stick out of the top of the pumpkin by wrapping it around a pen or pencil, then just sliding it off.

Open the book so that the first and last pages and the core of the spine  are facing up.  Use the hot glue gun to glue a stick (the stem), along with the base of the wire “curlies” and the leaf  into the top of the spine of the book. Zig-zag hot glue all the way down the spine, then just open the book completely so the pages are all spread out.

 

 

Once the hot glue dries, the pumpkins are done!

 

 

 

 

I’m linking this tutorial up to: Tip Me TuesdayPatches of PinkHappy HourSundae Shake Up & Everything Under the Moon.

Newspaper Flowers

Recycle old newspapers to create these fun & original flowers!

Each sheet of newspaper can make multiple flowers, which you can use as a unique and eco-friendly way to decorate cards, and embellish any plain gift bags or wrapped gifts!

 

Materials:

-Flower template {download template here}

-Old newspapers

-Toothpick

-Paint (watercolor or acrylic, depending on your desired look)

-Scissors

-Paintbrush

-Small decorative brads

-Pen or pencil

-Optional: Spray starch (to make more stiff)

 

Directions:

Download and print out the flower template. Cut out each flower from the template page and use a toothpick to punch a small hole in the center of each flower.

Choose the newspaper pages that will become your flowers – try to choose pages that have a lot of text and few pictures (and you’ll probably want to avoid the obituaries).

Painting Option 1 – Acrylic Paint

This method will result in more coverage; acrylic paint is thicker, so you won’t see as much newsprint  through the paint.

Choose your desired color(s) of acrylic paint – the flowers I created for this tutorial used 3 colors of paint. Use as few or as many colors as you’d like, and experiment with different color combinations for different looks.

Using acrylic paint will yield the look  in the picture below:

Painting Option 2 – Watercolor

Using watercolor paint gives a tint of color to the newspaper, and allows all of the newsprint to show through. I’ve found that when using watercolors for this project, it looks better to stick to just one color on a page.

Using watercolor on the newspaper will produce the look in the picture below:

 

Paint one side of the newspaper, using any painting technique you like – I randomly painted different areas with each color, and then did a little dry brushing on top. Allow paint to dry completely.

Turn the newspaper over (painted side down), and trace each of the flowers cut out from the template. Be sure to mark the center of each flower.

Cut out the flower shapes. Use a toothpick to gently poke a small hole through the marked center of each flower.

Gently “crumble” each flower.

Open each flower up, being careful not to tear the paper. Put the brad through the hole in the center, starting with the smallest flower, and working up to the largest flower.

Secure the flower by opening the brad in the back.

Optional: you can spray your finished flowers with spray starch to stiffen the paper and help the flower hold it’s shape.

Each sheet of newspaper should be able to make several flowers – have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Message/Menu Board

Give new life to an old picture frame by painting and re-purposing it as a fun message board for the kitchen that can display the your menu, wine selections, inspiring quotes, or anything you’d like. This creative board uses dry erase markers, so messages can be easily wiped clean and replaced!

When choosing a materials for this project, keep a few things in mind: choose a frame that is appropriately sized for the place in your kitchen you’d like to display it (I used an old 8×10 frame for mine), and make sure the frame has glass (to write on with the dry erase markers). Also, when choosing decorative paper to go behind the glass, pick a one with a pattern and color scheme that are not too dark or bold, so that the messages you write will be readable.

Materials:

  • Old picture frame (any size – this example uses a 8×10)
  • Sandpaper (fine)
  • White spray paint (for a base coat)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small paint brush
  • Decorative paper (scrap booking paper, wall paper, wrapping paper… any type of pretty paper will do)

 

Directions:

Choose the frame you want to use, and take it apart, being sure to save the glass and any inner cardboard.

Sand the frame and wipe off all dust and debris so that you’ll have a clean painting surface.

Spray a light, even coat of white spray paint over the frame. *Tip: I used spray paint because it’s quicker than hand-painting a base coat; if you don’t have spray paint on hand, you can always paint a base coat with your chosen acrylic paint.

Allow paint to dry. Lightly sand wipe off any dust from the sanding.

Apply an even layer of your chosen paint to the frame.

Let dry, and if you want a distressed or weathered look, sand again and dry brush or use a rag to rub on another layer of paint.

Cut your decorative paper (or fabric) to fit, and put it into your frame (be sure to clean the glass before reassembling).

Your message board is ready to be written on with dry erase markers – your family and guests will love getting to see what’s for dinner! 🙂

*If you like the way mine turned out, here’s the specific paint and techniques I used:

After spray painting, I brushed on an even coat of Delta Creative Ceramcoat in Maple Sugar Tan. After it dried, I lightly sanded it, wiped it off, and used a rag to quickly apply Delta Creative Ceramcoat in Black Green, not being too careful to apply evenly so that some of the color underneath was still visible in spots. Lightly sand again – the more you sand, the more distressed it looks.

 

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Scrap Cake Birthday Card

Use leftover scrap paper to create an adorably unique handmade birthday card in this tutorial. You can use extra pieces of scrapbooking paper, or even recycle old birthday or greeting cards by using small strips of them to build a fun & funky cake for the card!

Materials:

  • scrap paper
  • 8 1/2 x11″ card stock
  • sheet of decorative paper (at least 5×7″)
  • tacky glue (or any type of crafting glue)
  • double-sided permanent adhesive mounting squares
  • paper cutter (or scissors)
  • Optional (for inside of card):
    • additional piece of decorative paper, at least 5×7″
    • ink pad
    • “Happy Birthday” stamp
    • corner rounder

Directions:

Choose scrap paper pieces to use to create the cake, candle, and flame. Paper scraps that are in the same color family and have varying pattern sizes work best. Small scraps should be at least 1/4″ wide and 3-5″ long.  Also choose a large sheet of card stock to serve as the main part of the card, and a decorative piece of paper to go behind the cake.

Fold large sheet of card stock in half to create the base of your card, trimming if necessary to fit in your envelope.

Cut sheet of decorative paper to be slightly smaller than the front of the folded card stock (about 1/8″ smaller on each side looks best). This will be the front of your card.

Cut scraps for the cake into strips that vary in thickness from 1/4″ to 1/2″. Arrange strips horizontally in the order they will be in to form the cake – don’t worry about length yet.

Tear the top (vertical) side of each strip.

 

To create the cake, start with the bottom layer; tear a strip of paper on the left and right sides to be about 4″ long. Continue working up the cake, tearing the sides of each layer to be slightly shorter than the strip below it. Glue each strip in place on to the card.  *Tip: use glue only on the bottom edge of each strip, so that the strip above it can be “tucked” in to the top to create a stacked look.

 

 

Cut the scrap paper that will be the candle on the cake to an appropriate size and glue on to card.

Use a small scrap of yellow (or orange) paper, and tear it into a flame shape. Glue to the top of the candle.

Attach to the front of the folded card stock using glue or double sided adhesive.

Optional: You can embellish the inside of the card with pretty paper and a stamped happy birthday message as well.

Cut another sheet of decorative paper to fit inside the card (the same size as the decorative paper on the front). Make sure the pattern is not too bright or busy, so that you will be able to see the message you write on the inside. Attach the paper to the inside (right side) using glue or double sided adhesive.

Stamp (or write)  Happy Birthday on another small scrap of paper. Use a corner rounder on the scrap paper (or any other decorative cutting) and attach to the inside of the card using double sided adhesive.

Voila! Your card is complete! To create an envelope to go with your card, see the handmade envelope tutorial.

 

Love the craft, but don’t want to make it? Buy the finished product in Crafting Mom’s Shop!
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