CraftStylish Reports from CHA

CraftStylish Reports from CHA

Wall to Wall Paper

comments (21) February 2nd, 2009     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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Oversized ornaments? Decorative wall art? Would you believe, theyre just magazines from the garbage bin?
Three hundred fifty magazines with 77,000 individual folds is all it took to create this dramatic and sophisticated wall treatment.
To promote our website, we turned to the analog medium that preceded it: the humble magazine.
Oversized ornaments? Decorative wall art? Would you believe, theyre just magazines from the garbage bin?

Oversized ornaments? Decorative wall art? Would you believe, they're just magazines from the garbage bin?

Photo: Jeff Rudell
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If you're looking to make trouble, I suggest putting five crafters in a room and asking them to design something. This is what The Taunton Press (owners of did in mid-December. They invited Kayte Terry, Victoria North, Deana Tierney, Michaela Murphy, and myself to meet at their offices in Connecticut to discuss the upcoming Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) trade show, scheduled for January 24–28 in Anaheim, CA.

The powers that be, as represented by Publisher Beth Agren, tasked us to come up with a design for the booth. Specifically they wanted something that would be interesting, have impact, and convey—at a glance—the essence of our site. As anyone who has experience with trade shows knows, they can be extremely expensive ventures what with the cost of renting the booth, the cost of renting items and amenities to go in the booth (such as chairs, tables, a wide-screen television, and—especially important for us—Internet access), and the cost of travel and hotel accommodations for representatives staffing the booth. Aftering tallying up all of these "hard" costs, Beth informed us that we had very limited resources left for "decor." But, knowing full well the sort of people she was dealing with, she asked us to "be creative" and see what we could come up with.

The ideas came fast and furiously: Let's design a party, complete with paper cake, handmade party favors, and a giant invitation to celebrate our one-year anniversary of the site; let's design an exhibit space and display the work of members who have undertaken projects from the site; let's purchase 3,000 Japanese paper fans imprinted with the slogan, "I'm a fan of" Admittedly, some ideas were better than others but, one-by-one, we dismissed each of them because either the cost was too high or the logistical demands too great for the time we had available to us.

Then, almost offhandedly, it was mentioned that the theme of the trade show was, "It's Easy Being Green." Eureka! Being green is something we know a little about at Michaela suggested that instead of featuring crafts IN our booth, perhaps we could craft the booth ITSELF. Then Deana, the editor of the CraftStylish magazine, suggested we try incorporating the magazine itself into the design. Within minutes all five of us were folding magazines into curious shapes and brainstorming how we might attach them to a wall (How much do 350 magazines weigh? Can we hot-glue them in place? What color should the wall itself be?).

In all of the previous hours of discussion, we had failed to come up with any ideas that excited us. Once we started talking about—and actually folding—magazines, however, it was clear to all that this was precisely the sort of thing that made sense: We would literally be crafting our own booth, we'd be creating it using magazines otherwise destined for a landfill, we would be transforming a modest material into a marvelous creation, and in the process, we would be building a booth that would capture the attention of convention goers and generate buzz about our site. Everyone agreed; the idea had that certain thrum one feels when something it right, a sort of vibration that lets you know you're on the right track.

Almost immediately the five of us were sold on the idea. It took only a few minutes more to convince the publisher to give us the go ahead. Then, we each decamped back to our respective studios, leaving the burden of how, exactly, to produce this project on the desk of Senior Marketing Manager Jessica Aframe. (As an aside, Jessica was away on vacation when we had our meeting. It wasn't until she returned to work that she discovered the task we'd set for her.) It turned out to be a Herculean task, at that. Let it be said right here, without Jessica's diligent and methodical (and tenacious) efforts, this idea would never have come to fruition. At every turn she met with resistence:

Could we prefold all the magazines? No, because they would have become too compressed and then wouldn't "fan out" as needed. So, she arranged for some office interns to prefold each magazine halfway (to step 1). (A huge shout-out to the interns from all of us who folded step 2 in Anaheim. We feel your pain and appreciate your hard work!)

Could we paint the wall? No. So, she found a company, Production Prints, to custom-print a bright fuchsia color on removable Avery vinyl—and then got the company to send Jeff Andrews to the convention hall to help us install it. Our thanks to Jeff—you were a lifesaver.)

When she discovered, at the 11th hour, that the convention hall had given us the wrong dimension for our booth—and that we would be short sufficient vinyl to cover it, she negotiated with Production Prints to rush through an order for the material we were missing.

Where are the lights? Where is the signage for the booth? Where are the tables and chairs we ordered? Jessica handled all of these logistical matters and then pitched in folding all 350 magazines (step 2) and attaching them to the wall.

The results are pictured below. Suffice it to say, we made quite a splash. Other vendors wandered over to watch or progress and marvel at the scale of the job before us (some of them clearly unsure how the finished project would look); convention attendees walked by, glanced, then glanced again, before slowing their pace and eventually approaching with questions: What is it? What's it made of? Who did it? Can I touch it? (and one person even asked...) Can I buy it?

I'm pleased to report that as a result we introduced hundreds of people to As well, a great many crafters who are already familiar with us online stopped by to greet us in person. Best of all, though, was the feedback we were able to collect from brand-new and seasoned members alike: what they like about the site, how it can be improved, what can we do better, and how can they participate?

Since the response to our Wall to Wall Paper was so enthusiastic, we wanted to offer a quick how-to to anyone interested in replicating it themselves. Mind you, it is not a project for everyone, but should you and a group of friends find yourself with a few years' worth of magazines and a few days' worth of free time, you may just want to give it a whirl. I can tell you we had a blast creating it and we hope we did you, our members, proud in front of the CHA participants.

A pile of old magazines is all that's needed to craft this project. Experience suggests a magazine of 100 pages is sufficient. You're welcome to use magazines with more pages, but be warned, more pages means more folding.


Step 1: Begin by folding the top edge of each page down and into the binding of the magazine. Crease the page flat. Repeat for each page of the magazine. (NOTE: For demonstration purposes, I have only folded a few pages.)


Step 2: Next, fold the bottom edge of each page up and into the binding. As above, repeat this operation on all of the pages of the magazine.


NOTE: When performing step 2, we found it is best to NOT fully crease the fold. In the image to the left, notice that I have creased only from the bottom of the binding to about two-thirds of the way up toward the center "point".


By NOT fully creasing the pages in step 2, your magazine will retain a "fluted" appearance that not only adds visual interest but also provides a little "springiness" between the pages. This helps keep the finished pieces looking full and robust instead of flat and limp.


The finished piece. One hundred pages makes a piece suitable for attaching to a wall. If you wish to created a full 360-degree object, you'll need at least 200 pages in your magazine.


While the finished piece may look quite elaborate, a glimpse at its reverse side reveals just how simple the folds really are.


If one folded magazine looks cool, then two should look twice as cool. We at took this logic to the extreme in creating our Craft & Hobby Association Trade Show booth and folded 350 magazines and then attached them to a bright pink wall. We know how to get noticed!


Managing Editor Michaela Murphy surveys our "blank canvas," the white walls of our rented trade show booth. It took 18 hours of folding (with the whole CraftStylish crew pitching in to help) to create the effect we were after.


Trade show rules forbade us from painting the wall, so our enterprising senior marketing manager, Jessica Aframe, found Production Prints to print out custom color on "removable vinyl." Here, Michaela "seasons" the adhesive with a hairdryer.


The Taunton Press loaned us a few interns who folded the magazines to the point of step 1, then sent them to Anaheim. Here, Kayte Terry, Jessica Aframe, and Michaela Murphy work on completing step 2 (I'm behind the camera). The fruits of our labors are piled in the foreground.


Again, the trade show forbade the use of hot glue or staples (both of which might damage the wall), so instead we used Velcro-brand fastener tape applied to the backs of the magazines.


To keep our work aligned, we ran plumb lines using string and positioned each piece along these guides. After each row was hung, we removed the strings.


Dramatically lit from above, the magazines appeared highly sculptural and had convention goers marveling at the material (and coming up to touch it) and applauding the effect.


The finished booth moments before the convention opened. Nearly everything in the booth was either rented or reused, which just goes to show how far you can go on a good idea—and a great deal of sweat equity.


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posted in: recycled magazines

Comments (21)

andrew_bentley160 writes: Looks really cool. I've been thinking of throwing away some of my old magazine, but I'm starting to reconsider it now.
Posted: 8:24 am on February 1st
MKennard writes: Hi I am a gcse student of st marylebone school and i was wondering if i could use your website in my coursework?
Madison Kennard
Posted: 7:40 am on November 4th
Maggie2020 writes: To bring more attention to our “Toys for Tots” toy drive, in art class our 75 5th graders recycled National Geographic magazines. The display in the main lobby of our elementary school measures 8 feet by 10 feet. Wrapped boxes of toys were on the floor underneath.
Students folded the magazines to create the diamond shape. Starting at the top two magazines were attached together to add fullness using a staple gun. They continued for 8 rows alternating on each side of the first shape to create the triangle shape of the tree. They added texture lines to the trunk and even made that dimensional when they hung it by stapling the left side first and stapling the right side from inside the trunk. The top was adorned with an oversized origami crane symbolizing peace; smaller cranes were hung on the tree.
They really enjoyed making this; even the parents commented how they remember folding magazines when they were younger.

Posted: 9:05 am on December 31st
emt writes: The booth was wonderful. I learned this trick when i was about 12 years old (50+ years ago!)with a paperback book to be used as a door stop. I am glad to see it revived so beautifully.
Posted: 9:07 pm on November 13th
alanapr1 writes: I would like to thank you not just for a great idea, but for taking us all through the process of designing the booth. It is great to get an idea of what the process is, for those of us who don't do such things.
Posted: 2:27 am on May 30th
grandmaof62 writes: What an awesome Idea. Just made it. took maybe a half hour to make one. It looks so COOL. Was just thinking that it would be even more awesome if I strung beads and attached them to the end of each fold then from the top and bottome as well. Think that would be so Cool. What a wonderful Idea to recycle old magazines which I have alot of.
Posted: 12:47 am on March 23rd
RAli writes: This is such a simple and brilliant idea! "make something out of nothing".
Posted: 9:01 am on March 12th
booklady2228 writes: WOW! I'm going to a a few of these and place them on the outside of my house (under the porch) and watch them flutter in the wind; I might even hang a few and watch them twirl!
Posted: 11:34 am on March 4th
JohnWLennon writes: I remember making Christmas trees out of Reader's Digest magazines as a kid using this same concept. Then we would spray paint them gold. I too have worked many trade shows and pre set up was always so exciting and one couldn't wait to see the finished product. Your finished product is awesome! I just one of those is made and hung on a wall, it will create a thousand questions. Great conversation peice for a party and it's easy enough to get the kids involved. Thumbs up!

Posted: 9:38 am on March 1st
smartstyle writes: That is so cool and smart! I am about to start my first one!

Posted: 4:52 pm on February 27th
glitterbirdie writes: very very it
Posted: 7:00 am on February 16th
newlifeartworks writes: love it!
Posted: 3:15 pm on February 8th
TGIretirement writes: Congratulations on your great trade show booth. As someone who has designed numerous trade show booths over the years I know how challenging it is to do something that is original and eye catching, and that reflects exactly what your organization or company stands for. Your finished product achieved all of these. Kudos to all who were involved.
Posted: 9:17 am on February 7th
jaxlady writes: What an amazing booth! I have worked in booths in various shows throughout the years and I know the work involved in designing and setting up for a show. Congratulations to one and all for this truly original creation!
Oh, and I also feel for Jessica when she discovered the booth was larger than advertised. Always a challenge!
Posted: 7:56 am on February 7th
AWilcox writes: Very cool indeed!
Posted: 12:07 pm on February 4th
crafty_gal writes: Thanks for your kind words Jeffery! It was amazing to see this all come together. I'd like to give an extra shout out to Caitlin Channing and Lily Cambell our interns who spent 2 days folding magazines to help us get ready...we could not have done it without you guys :)
Posted: 7:12 am on February 3rd
ggmom writes: Does anyone remember back in the sixties when we use to create christmas decorations with old magazines with the same process. We used old Readers Digest mainly. Created santa (Mr & Mrs) angels were just a few that I remember.

I love it when old ideas become new ideas. We love to recycle :)
Posted: 11:46 am on February 2nd
JenniferStern writes: Kudos to all--I can't think of a more appropriate backdrop for Craftstylish...thanks for show us how to do it!
Posted: 9:25 am on February 2nd
RubyKitty writes: What a great idea. These look so effective, especially when grouped together. Very impressive.
Posted: 2:24 am on February 2nd
Jen_W writes: Phew, I'm tired thinking about all the work you all put into it, as well as exhilarated by the creativity that you brought to a simple material. Well done, all of you, and thanks especially to Jessica, who I can second was a life-saver throughout the show.
Posted: 12:46 am on February 2nd
2manyideas writes: Jeffery:

I applaud you and the other contributors and staff of interns for such an outstanding and awesome booth wall! I loved it so much I thought seriously about taking all my old magazines and folding them up and putting them on my wall! The vinyl was an inspiration too. I wonder how heavy that wall was after they were all hung up?! ;-)
Posted: 12:45 am on February 2nd
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