We’re moving!

Things are always changing here at Recycled Reads, whether it’s a huge donation coming through the back door, or just bringing back our picks shelf (come check it out!). Another big change is that this blog will be moving to another location – within the Austin Public Library website. We’ve spent 5 years here on WordPress doing our blog, and we’re happy that you’ve followed us this far, and hope you make the move with us!

Our new blog should be live at this website address by next week, so be sure to update your bookmarks. If you’re looking for craftiness, please continue to look for my craft blog on the new website. I’m currently working on animations for our grant video modules but will post a new craft blog next week.


August 23, 2014 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Cardboard Pencil Boxes

We had a great time at this month’s Upcycle This! event on Thursday night, where the craft was cardboard pencil boxes. All you need is a cereal box, scissors, tape, ruler, and velcro. We used this template from Craftzine. Have fun with this, experiment with placement and design of the photos on the box. We had one participant who designed it so that a stack of Ritz crackers was on the front of the case, while another participant had the Cheerios logo going down the front of hers.


Cardboard Pencil Box2

Cardboard Pencil Box4

Cardboard Pencil Box6

Cardboard Pencil Box7

August 9, 2014 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Gift wrap

Long before my son’s first birthday, I had written a blog post here about gift wrapping using maps. This past week, my son turned one, and of course, I used maps to wrap his gifts. They served their purpose, although they’re a bit heavier than regular store bought wrapping paper, so my son needed a little help in tearing and ripping open gifts. After that, I began to get curious about gift wrapping in general and the options that people come up with. A simple search yields plenty of options. HowStuffWorks.com is just one website that lists out sustainable gift wrapping options including ideas such as wrapping gifts in fabric, cereal boxes and junk mail.

You can find lots of books on gift wrapping at the library! Here’s a listing of all the gift wrap related books that Austin Public Library has available.


August 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: CD Pond

Today I wanted to take a look back at Ruth’s creation for this past year’s Mini Maker Faire. It was a crane wishing tree, with a pond made from all upcycled materials. The pond is what we’ll be focusing on today. Remember, this is an adult craft!  Warning as far as safety goes: Wear protective glasses, gloves and clothing for the prep in this craft!









To make the base of “water” for the pond, Ruth took used aluminum foil and crumpled it up, laying it out on the surface area allotted for the pond. The tutorial part I’m going to go over is how to make the CD accents that go on top of the aluminum foil.

Step 1:

Wearing safety gear, take a hammer and boxcutter or nail and break apart the CD. It’s best to do this outside in an area away from others, as sometimes broken bits can fly off.


Step 2:

Again, wearing protective gear (those shards can be sharp!) take shards and glue them where you’d like them on top of the aluminum foil.



July 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Popup cards part 2

A couple of weeks ago I did a post about my efforts with pop up cards as part of the prize package for Austin Public Library’s Adult Summer Reading Program. Now I’ve finished the cards and wanted to revisit this post. As you can see, I finished off the outsides of the cards with our information and our well known R. Inside, I handwrote a “blurb” about our mission and upcycled crafting.

These cards come along with the handcrafted upcycled grand prizes for the Adult Summer Reading Program. Interested in entering? Check it out on the website.











July 13, 2014 at 5:06 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Firecracker pom poms

We had a blast at Thursday night’s Upcycle This! event where the craft du jour was firecracker pom poms. They’re fairly easy to make, all you need is a strip of paper, scissors, some glue/tape, and a barbecue skewer. I got this idea from Martha Stewart’s book of Handmade Holiday crafts, which is available at the library.


To make the poms poms:

– Cut a strip of paper measuring approximately 3″ by 15″. Fold in half once, then in half again.

– Take the scissors and cut thin strips 2/3 of the way across the strip, like you’re making fringe. The uncut part will wrap around the tip of the barbecue skewer.

– Unfold the strip of paper and using glue or tape, attach it to the tip of the skewer. Make sure as you wrap the strip, it stays tight against the skewer. When you reach the other end, affix it to itself or the skewer.

– Taking the scissors, curl down the fringe to make it look more like a firework. You can make it as curly as you like. Enjoy!


July 4, 2014 at 10:11 am Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Book Safe

Today’s post is all about the ubiquitous book safe. We got a custom order for a book safe, so I decided it was high time to do a blog on book safes while our crafty volunteer Anna worked to fill the custom order. This is a pretty simple craft and you only need a few supplies to make it happen.

Book Safe1

Anna making the first cuts


Old or damaged book

Mod podge

Box cutter


How to do it:

– Start by figuring out how big and how deep you want the hole to be. What do you want to store in the book safe? Measure it out and then stick to that measurement on each and every page.

– Leave a few pages uncut at the beginning. This is a book safe, we want it to appear to be an intact book.

-Podge it. Spread an even layer of Mod Podge around the outside edges of all the pages. Let it dry completely. This helps stabilize the pages while you are cutting.

– Begin cutting. Cut a few pages at a time.

– When you’re done cutting, seal up the inner edges of the hole with podge.

Book Safe2

Almost done! You can see the raw edges and all the bits of paper that are left over. Be sure to recycle the scraps!

June 27, 2014 at 9:54 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: VHS tape Crochet Pen Topper

Many customers admire our crochet rose pen topper. It’s surprising to find out it’s crocheted from VHS tape! Our crafty volunteer Anna made it, and although I don’t have her exact instructions, here’s a tutorial from Instructables on how to make a crochet rose.


Other things we’ve made from VHS tape: a purse.



Can you think of anything to make out of VHS tape? Let us know in the comments and we’ll give it a try.

June 21, 2014 at 7:37 pm 2 comments

Upcycled Crafts: Pop up cards

It’s summer, which means one thing: Summer reading! At Recycled Reads, we’re reading (as always), but we’re crafting for Summer Reading as well. Ruth is busy crafting up grand prizes for the drawing held at the end of Austin Public Library’s Adult Summer Reading Program. Want to participate? Stop by the store, your local branch, or our Virtual Library and pick up a frequent reader card to enter.

Today’s blog will cover the cards that will accompany the grand prizes. They’re pop up card, the pop up portion is a tree, which will eventually feature tidbits about the store, but for now I just wanted to concentrate on the mechanics of popups. Bear with me, these are my first attempts! If you have any pointers, let me know in the comments.



For my tree, I used two separate sections of reused poster paper covered in leaves I cut from damaged books.


Here’s the back of one of the tree sections, which shows the poster paper I used for backing, as well as the tabs that function as the mechanics of the pop up. I inserted these tabs into the card by making slits in the card on either side of the center crease. I inserted the tabs into the slits and glued them in place on the outside of the card.



One of the finished products! The trunk is made from a cardboard coffee cozy.


June 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment

Upcycle Challenge Results

We had a great success at last night’s Upcycle Challenge! If you missed it, here are some examples of what participants created. Special thanks to Blythe from the Re-sourcery, who came out and brought extra supplies and crafty energy.


Cute organizer to keep all your crafting supplies in reach
Cube organizer made from CD inserts
Board books wrapped in fabric scraps become a great desktop container
Another desktop cube from empty CD cases
Briefcase decorated with fabric swatches
Bookshelf with fabric swatch puppy











June 6, 2014 at 10:44 pm Leave a comment

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