Creative UpCycling: Giving New Life to Old Newspapers

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Listen to this great Green Diva DIY segment podcast on up cycling newspapers with GD Mizar

There’s nothing quite like settling in on the coach or the porch or deck, with a cup of coffee, your dog at your feet and the Sunday paper. I think, however, that’s a tradition fast falling by the wayside. I’m pretty sure my children — already 22 and 20 — will never know what that is like. Never mind television or radio … those mediums are in many ways, are already “old-fashioned.” Their information comes from the internet. Period.

As I did when I began commuting into NYC all those many years ago, I still enjoy reading my newspaper. I can do without the scads of coupon pages, however, they too come in handy; whether I’m lining the litter box, placing them under the cat food bowls, stuffing them into boots to help them keep their shape or what-have-you. Time was, when my children were young, we’d use newspaper for the requisite paper mache pinatas or school projects. We’ve been upcycling newspaper in our house for quite a few years now.

When I was a Girl Scout, we wove folded strips of newspapers, about 2-inches wide and a 1/2-inch thick into 12 x 12 squares, covered them with old, flannel lined plastic tablecloths and made our own sit-a-pons for sitting around the camp fire. Nice memories there!

Want to laugh? Here’s what I did for my daughter’s Sweet 16: Lucky for me — and for her as well — she has a GREAT sense of humor! That’s a paper mache pinata with a picture of her very goofy face blown-up and plastered to the front. Lots of fun! She forgave me . . .

Antares' Sweet 16 pinata

Antares’ Sweet 16 pinata

  As time has gone by, the pinatas gave way to more practical, everyday useful things to create with newspaper.  Now, because I like to keep my hands busy, even when I’m relaxing, folding strips of newspaper and creating coils is easy. It’s also time consuming but not so much so that it becomes annoying.

So … I launched into making coiled newspaper circles and squares which, in turn, I put to quite a few uses, including coaters, trivets and placemats.

Trivet - washed with blue paint and held together with raffia

Trivet – washed with blue paint, held together with raffia

Creative UpCycling: Newspaper Trivet

1. take a half a full sheet of news paper. Fold the sides in toward the middle. Keep folding until you get a strip about a 1/4 inch wide. I used a bit of glue and those handy paper clamps found in just about every office to hold  the strips in place and get them ready for coiling.

Coaster11Coaster82. Once the glue is dry, start coiling. The first couple of turns can be a bit challenging … you really have to hold that paper tight. Once I get the first strip coiled, I add a bit of glue at the end, wrap a rubber band tightly around the coil and let it dry … again.


3. Once dry, continue adding strips until you’ve wrapped enough for the project you’re making.


4. Drizzle a bit more glue onto the back side, wrap rubber bands around the entire thing and let it dry … again.


5. For the trivet I’m putting together here, I washed the coils with watered down blue acrylic paint. You can use tempera or even your children’s  water colors, it doesn’t matter.


6. Once you have the desired number of squares/circles, put them together. Here I’ve used several strands of raffia but you can use whatever you have around the house which you can repurpose; crewel yarn, jute, cotton string … I would stay away from using acrylic yarn as if you are putting a hot pot atop the trivet, that yarn might melt.

7. Then spray the whole thing with a clear acrylic spray, matte or glossy finish is up to you.

Trivet, washed with blue paint and held together with raffia.

Here are some other fun newspaper upcycling ideas I found

In case you haven’t been paying attention — HOT OFF THE PRESSES — SPRING is coming up fast and so is the time to start planning your garden and starting those seedsmain_newspaper_networxNo need to buy special pots when you have newspapers in the house. Take a look at how easy it is to use newspaper and a bit of dirt to get started. Once you’re plants are ready to put in to the ground, you can pop the whole thing — newspaper pots included — right into your garden bed.


And speaking of those garden beds, there is no cheaper or better way  of keeping the weeds down than first laying a nice layer of several newspaper sheets down before planting and mulching. I do this every year … works like a charm!






Always losing track of time? Perhaps you need a bigger clock. Take a look at this really cool timepiece. Granted this would take a lot of time but how gratifying would it be to know you took the time to craft this.


Then there are the really big projects. Did you know that newspaper, budled or rolled together is really strong? If rolled really tightly, it can even serve as a source of  long burning fuel in the fireplace.

Not sure what to do with that piece of tempered glass leaning up against the garage wall? … you know the one I’m talking about!  The one which – every time you see it you say, “Some day I’ll make a table with that glass”.  Here you go!  A bit  of whimsy and what  I would call a bit of  modern art.


Now here’s an idea I think is really cool. Making centerpieces using newspaper. This looks to be pretty easy; just take newspaper squares, fold them from the middle and affix them in some way to a styrofoam ball. I would never buy a styrofoam ball – I’d use an old one if I had it or look for another way to put this together. You could then lightly paint the outer edges or glitter them up or what-have-you. This looks like a lot of fun and a whimsical twist on an elegant party.

Newspaper Sculpture


And flowers … don’t forget the flowers for that party!


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Green Diva Mizar'

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    joanna November 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm -  Reply

    I like the sit upon idea! they also would make a good kneeling pad for the garden if covered in plastic.

    Speaking of the garden, I dont like the idea of using newspapers in there at all! The ink is way too toxic!
    Recycle newspaper (if its clean and dry , its easy to recycle and is kept out of our landfills!

    Melanie October 18, 2016 at 4:35 am -  Reply

    The coaster is beautiful, but I don’t see the point in upcycling if the end result will be full of glue etc – thus non-recyclable let alone biodegradable. But it does look pretty 🙂

    Lori January 8, 2017 at 2:03 am -  Reply

    Great ideas! Creative and beautiful. A number of years ago our newspapers in the U.S. became fully recyclable with plant-based ink, and today there are ecofriendly glues and paints that can be used for craft projects, so I would feel good about crafting projects from folded and coiled newspaper. Thank you much for sharing these great and inexpensive project ideas!

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