The "Times" They Are A-Changing: How to Make a Basket from a Newspaper

comments (58) May 3rd, 2012     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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A charming basket (or comfy pet bed) is crafted from an issue of the Sunday New York Times. Recycling never looked so good.
Weaving newspapers is a perfect activity for kids who are stuck inside on a rainy May Sunday (and it works with adults, too).
A simple ribbon or two can turn even the most modest of materials—in this case an old newspaper—into a thing of beauty.
A charming basket (or comfy pet bed) is crafted from an issue of the Sunday New York Times. Recycling never looked so good.

A charming basket (or comfy pet bed) is crafted from an issue of the Sunday New York Times. Recycling never looked so good.

Photo: Jeff Rudell
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The entire 126-year-old farmhouse I grew up in was insulated with old newspapers, wadded up and stuffed behind the walls and between the studs. My mother, as a girl working at the cosmetics counter of an old-fashioned pharmacy, used to use newspapers—wadded up like rags—to add a streak-free gleam to all of the glass countertops and vitrines she oversaw. When I was a boy, my blue pet parakeet, Pete, used to pass his days upon a swing overlooking a carefully cut circle of financial news that lined the bottom of his cage. Strips of newspaper, a balloon, and a bottle of sticky pink laundry starch were the basis of my very first sculpture (a globose orange jack-o-lantern as I recall and, without question, my greatest artistic accomplishment to date...when I was six). Newspaper was my preferred choice over bubble wrap for many years, and I often used it as wrapping paper, as well. 

With such a long history with newspapers, it struck me as odd recently to realize that most of what I did with newspapers these days (besides read them) was bundle them up and deliver them to the curb once a week in anticipation of the 6:00 a.m. recycling truck that comes every Monday to retrieve them.

Sitting at my desk one recent Sunday, with The New York Times before me (and the preceding week's worth of papers in a slouching pile in the corner of my living room), I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with the material. The results, offered here for your review and comment, were neither complicated or difficult to make but the sense of satisfaction was enormous. Is there more fun than to make something? The artist Jasper Johns once described art as, "Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it," and it strikes me that the "doing" part more than the "object" part might be where much of the pleasure comes in.

vhs Find more recycled projects:

• How to Make a Magazine Reed Box
• Crafting with VHS Tapes
How to Recycle Magazines into Jewelry

How to "Waste" Paper

In honor of my reacquaintance with newspaper as a material, and as an exercise in defiance on a gray, rainy afternoon, I'm happy to offer this simple newspaper restyle, recycle, and reuse project. Use it as a recycling bin for your daily paper, place it by a back door to hold wet boots and shoes, or fill it with shredded newsprint to make a comfy bed for the family cat or dog. Have fun and Craft on!


A Sunday New York Times, a cup of coffee, and a mid-May downpour that kept me indoors resulted in this spur-of-the-moment recycling project. A scissors, a stapler, some craft glue, and ribbon complete the list of materials needed.

 


Trim the fold from a section of your paper to release each of the 12-inch x 22-inch individual pages.


Fold each page in half along its length, then into quarters, then into eighths. The resulting strips should be about 1-1/2 inches x 22 inches. You'll need a lot of them (I used 96 for my example), but an average Sunday Times should provide more than enough for such a project.

 


Start by interweaving the centers of four strips, as shown. If needed, a single staple or a dot of glue can be placed at each overlap to hold it in place.

 


Continue weaving strips to the dimension of your choice. My basket was ten strips by eight strips (or 15 inches x 12 inches overall).


For the sides of your basket, simply fold all strips upward at 90 degrees and continue weaving. Be sure to keep your strips snugly woven. Patience is your friend at this point.

 


At the corners, simply bend your side strips and continue weaving along the adjacent edges. Glue or staples are particularly recommended for this first course of side strips to hold things in place.

 


A detail of my project after two courses of side strips had been added. In my example, nearly four strips—each slightly overlapping the other—were needed to make a single course around all four sides of my basket.

 


Along the top edge, I added a double-folded strip (e.g., a regular strip folded in half again to give it added thickness). This "strut' added strength to the top rim. Strips protruding from the top edge were simply folded over this strut and glued in place along the inside of the basket.


For decoration, I added a pale blue ribbon along the fourth course of my weaving (right over the top of the newprint strip) and a darker blue ribbon along the top edge.

 


A detail showing a darker strip of ribbon along the top edge. I adhered this in place using a fabric glue.

 


Along the inside edge of my basket I added a row of The New York Times banners to cover the ragged ends of the overlapped strip ends from above.

 


The finished piece offers a pleasing alternative to the ever-present pile of papers that seem to accumulate on my floor between recyling days. With some slight modifications, this might also make a comfy pet bed or a kindling basket for next to a fireplace.

 

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posted in: recycled magazines

Comments (58)

EdwardThirlwall writes: There are actually so many different ways to recycle used items we have lying around at home. All we need is some creativity and the right tools to do the job. I am really awed by this newspaper pet bed cum storage idea though, because I never knew paper could be transformed into something so solid and sturdy. However, it honestly does not look that simple to create because weaving skills are needed in order to create the walls of the bed. Nonetheless, with much practice, I am pretty sure it is achievable.
Posted: 10:26 pm on January 16th
Annielou writes: I am likin' this ALOT !!!! But when I look at the strips they look like they are folded a few times /// not just single layers. Please advise !!!!
Posted: 7:47 pm on October 30th
Annielou writes:
Posted: 7:46 pm on October 30th
Tiziana writes: wow
originale!!
Posted: 11:08 am on July 17th
cooproduct writes: Hi Jeff,

This is such a good product with a great set of instructions. Can I ask if you would consider listing this on our website:
www.co-oproduct.org

We are a new organisation in the UK who are focusing on packaging reuse and open design. We are currently looking for exemplar projects which really demonstrate how you can turn a material that is normally regarded as waste, into a valuable product. We think this idea is exactly that!

Thank you

Tracy
Posted: 4:23 am on May 18th
oliviamagnolia writes: I LOVE this! I've always wanted to weave. This page has given me so many new ideas to try I don't even know where to start! Bracelets, bags, bowls, rugs, I can tell my room is going to get messy...
Posted: 11:14 am on May 5th
lbuser writes: I don't know which I enjoy more, your craft ideas or the stories that accompany then. This one brings to mind a dying leisure pastime - reading a paper newspaper. I am tempted to start getting them again just to have on hand to make this lovely rustic basket. Your story encourages a dozen other crafty uses for this humble material. Thank you.
Posted: 3:33 pm on May 4th
khaunani writes: What a wonderful idea! My husband and I usually read our papers online, but my parents still gather their papers for recycling. Will definitely use this. I think that it would be great to use gift wrap paper as well. More specifically, I'm thinking of using Christmas wrapping paper to make placemats. I'm so happy to have come across this article via a link from Mother Earth News.
Posted: 11:12 am on December 29th
aary writes: Awesome, A great GREEN idea.Never thought that the news paper can be used in this manner. Loads of thanks.
Posted: 4:48 am on September 12th
kristen660 writes: so cool! I have one question how should you fold the newspaper in forths and eighths?
Posted: 6:19 pm on May 18th
Snap_Green writes: This is awesome! What a great way to store items, makes me smile1 I featured this project on my blog "Moving Happiness Home." You should check it out! http://northstarmoving.com/blog/2010/another-alternative-to-recycling/

Snap Green
Posted: 1:20 pm on November 9th
tereber writes: Me ha encantado esta idea. Alguien me podría pasar los pasos a español. Más o menos me entero por las fotografías pero tengo dudas sobre todo a la hora de poner las grapas. un saludo
Posted: 11:51 am on October 6th
Mjoy writes: I want to make this
Posted: 9:39 pm on September 12th
harrietnightshade writes: This is amazing. This would be so useful for organizing stuff.
Posted: 2:44 am on March 21st
b_ziacoma writes: I love this idea!!! Wish I had thought of this!!!
Posted: 5:10 pm on February 11th
flormmo writes: Hola, es una gran idea, yo tambien hago lo mismo, y mucho mas con material reciclado, les presente mi blog:
http://reciclarycrearmanualidades.blogspot.com
Los espero hay muchas ideas que quiero compartir
Posted: 1:50 pm on February 2nd
Stile writes: Charming, simply charming. Good project for me and when my grandchildren visit.
Posted: 12:29 pm on January 17th
container writes: Pretty interesting, I want to learn more. Anymore useful information would be great.This blog Is very informative , I am really pleased to post my comment on this blog . It helped me with ocean of knowledge so I really belive you will do much better in the future .

Thanks,
Containers
http://www.boxtcontainers.com/

Posted: 8:59 pm on December 6th
Carolebarrel writes: Couldn't you use a leftover roll of wallpaper or some you bought at the fleamarket on the cheap? I would think the size would be unlimited then, it would be colorful, stiff and durable, no newsprint to wipe off and beautiful inside and out with ribbon trim, buttons, artificial flowers or other embellishments. With a handle, it could make a basket too. Great tut.
Posted: 1:47 am on December 3rd
oxxxgabixxxo writes: i tried making this. i did it right but it didnt comeout as perfect as i thought . but im only 12 so i didnt have much patiece but i did itall by myself ..and am very proud! great ida by the way
Posted: 7:49 pm on October 6th
WeenieGirl writes: I am not sure about your suggestion about putting wet boots into a newspaper basket?? What were you thinking?
Posted: 1:02 pm on September 26th
foxfirekenzie writes: This was way harder than I expected! I may have to give it another go for a snugger weave.
I posted this on my blog, see it if you want to:

http://foxfirekenzie.blogspot.com/

Also, I had to add paper for the parts that fold up since my strips were only about 3 inches long before folding up. Did I do something wrong?

Posted: 9:47 pm on September 24th
lilthreadangel writes: WOW! that is so great I have about 100 pieces of newpaper we never throw them away so it looks like I will be making this I can't wait to make this it looks amazing and so easy...Thank You for this tut...
Posted: 11:50 pm on September 6th
NanBurger writes: What an awesome idea! I teach 6th grade and we are always looking for a way to use newspaper in our art projects. i'm thinking about how to make these this fall and then use them as storage containers for our art projects throughout the year. You could even make lids for the boxes! Thank you!
Posted: 8:56 am on August 17th
Lilli_A writes: I dont have any newspapers but I have tons and tons of magazines. Do you think a magazine would work for this?
Posted: 11:22 am on August 5th
petitepaperie writes: This is such a great use for discarded newspapers! I taught the journalism/newspaper at a middle school for 6 years and used to have my students make crafts from the left over newspapers between publishing issues. I wish I had this great project then - it would have made a wonderful Mother's Day gift. Just beautiful and so useful!
Posted: 6:12 am on July 21st
NancyWard writes: Hi!

Today I posted an entry on my blog with a link to this tutorial.

Would you let me know if that's OK?

Thanks,

Nancy Ward
http://paperfriendly.blogspot.com
Posted: 10:09 am on July 2nd
Bobbilyn writes: I think this is a great project. You could make a lot of the boxes and then spray paint them all the same color to coordinate with your room decor. If you wanted a little more support on the bottom you could glue a piece of cardboard ( from cereal boxes..etc.) to it. I am definitely going to try this.
Posted: 4:02 pm on June 6th
juria writes: Wow,awesome. I'm truly impressed. What a fantastic idea of using old newspaper to come out with such a beautiful result.
Bravo!
Posted: 2:24 am on June 6th
veki writes: great.
Posted: 6:10 am on June 4th
Paws2 writes: WOW....what a great idea!!! I can't wait to try it with my grandson on a rainy day at the cottage [I'll have to hide the newspaper from my husband who uses it for starting campfires]. Thanks for another project!!!
Posted: 9:38 am on June 1st
ladybugltd writes: With the grosgrain ribbon edgings, spray lacquer to prevent smudging..... I hope to make some for my new Grandson-to-Be using the newspaper from his day of birth.
Perhaps even using some strips of baby gift wrap over the top of the newspaper strips to coordinate with his nursery theme (helicopters/firetrucks/cars), I can make some additional boxes for his diapers/wipes storage or little socks and perhaps line the inside with blue/white checked fabric left over from some other projects for his arrival. This can be lots of fun...
Posted: 2:03 pm on May 31st
cherylzone writes: I started making woven paper basket covers for almost anything square or rectangle a few years ago when feeling "crafty" deprived on vacation, and all I had for supplies were newspapers and scissors. These are great for plants (with a plastic bag liner), a wonderful cover for kleenex boxes with a slight modification (turn upside down, reinforce with tape on wrong side, and cut a circle or oval opening), a waste basket, etc etc. The instructions here are pretty much what I arrived at through trial and error. If you have a specific object to cover with this basket, use that object as a form for shaping. This is a very rewarding and practical project. Beware...once you start making these, you won't be able to stop.
Posted: 12:13 pm on May 31st
sufa writes: This is a wonderful project. I have done this before...from a now out-of-print book called "The Newspaper Everything" book. Glad to see someone is recycling newspaper usefully. sufa
Posted: 11:32 pm on May 30th
goddessmichellev writes: OMG this is wonderful..i often look at the newspaper we get in our house and think that there has to be something we could do with it..other than cover things up during painting projects...and this is a welcome idea since it is a project that has some lasting, useful value when it is completed - thanks so much! my six year old son and I will have fun with it!

I checked out the link sunnyb64 posted and that was great too! To do one like that it looks like you just roll the newspaper into reeds instead of cutting strips so it will take a lot more newspaper to do a similar size as this one.
Posted: 2:47 pm on May 30th
SteelyVan writes: Great idea! I'm going to make one or two or three! It's practical, pretty, economical AND it's good for the environment. thanks!!
Posted: 2:12 pm on May 30th
sumoma4 writes: OMG, this is the perfect solution to a problem i have every year. i live on a disability check, but i have 19 people i want to get gifts for at christmas. i bake a lot of their gifts, but the biggest problem i have is finding some nice way to package their gifts. at $1.oo apiece even gift bags are too expensive, but if i start now, i can make a paper basket for everybody on the list, and i can make them smaller, than this one and they will be PERFECT!!!! thank you SO much. sue hieber, wichita,ks
Posted: 1:09 pm on May 30th
Ginab6 writes: 30+ years ago I had directions for this same kind of box only it used brown paper grocery sacks which were quite plentiful then. I think newspapers were an option also. Paper grocery bags are hard to come by these days and I don't subscribe to the newspaper, but it's a great idea for those who do or have access to someone else's leftovers.
Posted: 11:03 am on May 30th
hotdotyuki writes: You are amazing! You always have a great idea for uses of paper and your designs are wonderful. I can´t wait to try.
Posted: 11:01 am on May 30th
Irish13 writes: I LOVE THIS and can't wait to try it. You can also use the funny sheets for kids closet organizers. What a genius idea Jeff. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Posted: 10:51 am on May 30th
funnyface_lh writes: great project idea......thanxs
spray lacquer is a great addition to this project.
it stops the ink bleed and gives the project alittle extra firmness.
Posted: 9:59 am on May 30th
aunty_em writes: try ironing the papaer..no steam of course. it will bond the ink to the paper so it won't smudge.
Posted: 9:47 am on May 30th
eveh writes: Oh, the possibilities. I am going to do this and add some paper bead dangles around the top. I am always looking for a way to uee my beads.
Posted: 9:06 am on May 30th
sunnyb64 writes: Fun idea! And good to see how to DIY it. I'm going to be redoing a closet within the next couple of months, and was looking for some inexpensive storage ideas... stumbled across this, which I'm posting as inspiration because I have no doubt that it could be DIYed with this technique and a little extra time: http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml;jsessionid=IPBNBUIE2Q0DJQFIAIMSNAGAVABBOJVC?CATID=78244&PRODID=10020377

(Incidentally, the site also comments that a coat of light lacquer prevents the ink from smudging.)
Posted: 9:01 am on May 30th
stitchinsister2 writes: I am sooooo gonna make this! I can't believe that this wonderful little basket is gonna make me start my subscription to the Sunday Paper again! Love it!
Posted: 8:36 am on May 30th
Loves2spin writes: I am thoroughly impressed. What fun! Thank you for sharing this. It is giving me all sorts of ideas. :D
Posted: 7:47 am on May 30th
KJRas writes: Fantastic idea. Do be careful not to store anything in it that you'd be unhappy to have ink rub off on.
Posted: 7:26 am on May 30th
stolan writes: How fabulous. My family is planning to have a "Green Christmas" Now I'll have my gift idea months ahead of time. Thanks, Jeff!
Posted: 8:35 am on May 29th
basketmaster writes: You're darn right, this is recycling at it's best.
Great job with the weaving.
From the Basketmaster.
Nancy
www.basketmasterweavings.blogspot.com
Posted: 8:32 am on May 20th
sgtstamper writes: What a fantastic use for newspaper, and beautiful too!! Love the ribbon on this!
Posted: 6:44 pm on May 19th
CalPatch writes: wow, this is a paper project i can relate to; it's being used like a textile! amazing!
Posted: 5:42 pm on May 18th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Sublime Jeffrey, I have been reading the Times online for years now--but this makes me want to reconsider a subscription:)
Posted: 3:04 pm on May 18th
Amyers writes: I want to try this with a magazine I have a bunch that I need to get rid of. Awesome idea!
Posted: 12:20 pm on May 18th
lifesart writes: This is so great, and I need a new bed for my kitty. Jeffrey, your invention never ceases to amaze me. Thanks!
Posted: 10:07 am on May 18th
multicrafty writes: I love this! I'll have to give this a try
Posted: 8:25 am on May 18th
Tifana writes: WOW, the bow so makes the whole thing! Love it!
Posted: 8:17 am on May 18th
Maureclaire writes: Jeffery has DONE it again ! Amazing !
Posted: 7:28 am on May 18th
Jen_W writes: Jeff, I love your genius. The grosgrain is perfectly over the top.
Posted: 1:51 am on May 18th
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