Archive for November, 2012

Recycled Crafts: How to Make a 3D Paper Snowflake

Hello there!

Part of our holiday display in the store features these 3D paper snowflakes made out of old maps and pages from old books. We get so many compliments and questions about how to make them that we had to have a tutorial on them sooner or later!

Supplies needed:

6 pieces of same sized paper (we used paper cut into 6″ x 6″ squares)


Hot glue or other adhesive

Step 1:

Take one piece of paper and fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle. Then, fold it in half a second time to form a smaller triangle.


Step 2:

Now take the scissors and cut three diagonal lines, making sure not to cut all the way to the far edge. Make sure the cuts are equal distance apart.


Step 3:

Unfold the triangle. Your square should now have three smaller squares cut into it. Take the center square and using the hot glue gun, glue the two points together to create a tube as shown in the photo.


Step 4:

Now turn over the piece of paper and take the second smallest square, gluing its two points together to form a tube.


Step 5:

Turn over the piece of paper again and glue together the ends of the third square to form a larger tube. Turn over the piece again and glue together the points of the final square. Do steps 1-5 to the other 5 pieces of paper.




Step 6:

Now take three of the finished pieces and glue them together at their tips. This will be the bottom of the snowflake. Take the other three pieces and glue them together to make the top of the snowflake. Then, take the top and bottom sets of three and glue together to make the final snowflake shape.


Step 7:

To finish the snowflake off, glue together the midsections of each of the six parts, in order to stabilize it and flesh out the final product. You can either leave it like that or punch a hole in the tip of one point, attach a string to it and hang it on display.





Thanks for reading and we hope you found this post inspiring!

See you next Friday!


November 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

Recycled Crafts: How to Make a Paper Ornament

Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving is all about finding deals and shopping til you drop. Why not start a new tradition – spending time with friends and family, reusing what you have to create unique, upcycled holiday decorations. It’s guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit, minus the crowds!

Today’s craft tutorial covers how to make an ornament out of strips of paper. Be adventurous and experiment with different kinds of paper! We paired up pages from a children’s book and pages from a vintage book (both books were coming apart, and thus were destined for the recycling bin).


Paper strips



Hole Punch

Step 1:

Take the twine and cut about 10″ of it to work with. Make a large knot at one end. You may have to knot it several times so that when you string the paper through, the knot will be big enough so that the strips don’t slip over the knot.

Step 2:

Cut about 8 or 9 strips of paper, each about 1″ wide and 4″ long. You can vary the widths to create a more visually interesting ornament or stick with uniform lengths for a traditional look. Punch holes in both ends of each strip of paper. Don’t punch the hole too close to the end, as it might cause the paper to rip. See the next step’s photo for reference.

Step 3:

Take your paper strips and thread them onto the twine through the hole punched in the bottom edges. Make sure the side of the paper you want to show on the outside of the ornament is facing down as you thread it on.

Step 4:

Now take the paper strips and thread them through the hole punched in the top edge. As you thread all the strips onto the twine, you will see that a “c” shape emerges. The side of the paper you want on the outside of the ornament should be facing outwards now.

You can make the “c” shape as flattened or as tall as you like. Whatever shape you decide on will determine the shape of the ornament. When you find a size you like, make another large knot in the twine about the paper strips, to keep your desired shape.

Step 5:

Now, fan out the paper strips to create the spherical shape of the ornament. It might take some playing around with it to get it just how you want it. With the rest of the twine, tie a loop on top so you can hang it on display.

Thanks for reading and see you next Friday!

November 23, 2012 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

We’re thankful for you.

Well—it’s the day before Thanksgiving and we’ve spent the day enjoying a nice brainstorming session here at Recycled Reads.  We are working on improving the store as we look toward the future and take further part in helping Austin reach its zero waste goals.  Most importantly, we want to embed ourselves in the community to remind people how much Austin Public Library has to offer.

This year we want to take a minute to go around the [virtual] table and say what we’re thankful for.

Mindy is thankful for all the support we get from the community.
Ruth is thankful for hot glue. (A crafter’s dream adhesive!)
Laura is thankful for the chance to meet and work alongside so many book and craft lovers.
Betsy is thankful for an awesome job involving both librarianship and sustainability.

We’re collectively thankful for the hard work from our volunteers.  There are so many things about the store that would be impossible without the help of our great group of volunteers.

With that, here’s one more reminder that the store will be closed tomorrow and Friday.  Happy Thanksgiving!  We’ll open our doors again on Saturday at noon.  You may have heard of Small Business Saturday—if not, it is a great reminder to put money back into your community, whichever community that is. In Austin, our customers support a small business as well as an entire library system.  At Recycled Reads, we’re going to call the Saturday after Thanksgiving Green Saturday. Save some green, and act green too.  We’ll be here noon to six as usual!

November 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

Recycled Crafts: How to Make Paper Bows

The holidays are going to be here soon, and now is a great time to get started on gifts and gift wrapping! We don’t normally think about it, but modern day gift wrapping such as ribbons and bows are made for that one purpose and then usually sent to the landfill. A greener alternative that’s also easier on your budget is repurposing paper from books, old maps and other scraps that might be thrown away otherwise. This also helps give a more personal touch to gifts!



scrap paper from old books, magazines or maps

hot glue gun or Elmer’s glue

Step 1:

Start by cutting 16 strips of papers, each measuring about 3″ long and 1/2″ wide.

Step 1

Step 2:

Using either a hot glue gun or Elmer’s glue (we used hot glue) take one end of a strip and curl it to where it makes a loop, as shown in the picture. Glue end in place. Take 7 more strips and make the same loop.

Step 2

Step 3:

Now take these 8 strips and arrange them in a circle, gluing them together in the center as shown.

Step 3

Step 4:

Now that the first circle of loops complete, it’s time to start on the second circle. Take the other 8 strips and make a slightly more elongated loop. To achieve this, you simply glue the end a little further down along the paper strip, so that these 8 strips can fit in the second row of your bow. Arrange them in between the first circle of loops and glue each one in place in the center.

 Step 4

Step 5:

Now cut 5 paper strips measuring 1 1/2″ long by 1/2″ wide for the final inner circle and center. Take 4 of these and make loops in the end, and set the fifth strip aside. Arrange them in the center and glue each in place.

Step 5

Step 6:

Now for the center of the bow! Take the paper strip from the previous step and glue it into a cylindrical shape. Add a bit of glue on the outside of the seam and press it into place at the center of the bow.

Step 6

Step 7:

Now for the finishing touches. Cut out two longer strips of paper for the tails. At one end, cut out a triangle shape as shown.

Step 7

Step 8:

Put a dab of glue at the top of each strip and attach to the middle part of the bow’s backside. Voila! You now have a gift-worthy bow.

Step 8

Thanks for reading, and check back on Fridays for more upcycled craft tutorials!

November 16, 2012 at 10:30 am 3 comments

Donating to Recycled Reads

Donating books, CDs, DVDs and VHS and vinyl records to Recycled Reads is a great way to support the Austin Public Library.

Please remember if you wish to donate to APL’s used bookstore, items can be dropped off at Recycled Reads or any library branch. Please be aware if you donate to green bins in commercial parking lots, those items are not coming to the Austin Public Library.

November 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

Recycled Crafts: How to Make Plastic Yarn

Happy Friday!

This posting is the first of a weekly series featuring recycled crafts. A main part of our mission at Recycled Reads is to reduce waste and reuse any books we can’t sell, so we spend a lot of time thinking up crafts that can give new life to books that would otherwise go to the landfill. Besides books and paper, we also make crafts using VHS tapes, plastic bags, CDs and jewel cases. Our goal is to help Austin become a Zero Waste city by keeping as much out of the landfill as possible.

This first posting will provide you with a tutorial on how to make plastic yarn, or plarn. One of our volunteers, Ana, kindly demonstrated the process for us in pictures.

Plastic grocery bags

Step 1:
Take a plastic bag and flatten it out. Fold it in half, then fold in half again.

Step 2:
Next, cut off the handles and the bottom of the bag.

Step 3:
Now that the handles and the bottom are cut off, take the folded up bag and cut into sections that are about 1 ½” in length.

Step 4:
Now that the entire bag is cut up into small sections, take one section and unravel it. You now have a loop of plastic.

Step 5:
Take another section and unravel it, then knot the two loops together using a lark’s head knot. The photo below illustrates how a lark’s head knot should look. Be sure to pull it tight so the two loops become one strand of plarn.

Continue to connect individual loops to form a long length of plarn. This may take several plastic bags worth to assemble. Once you reach your desired length of plarn, you can use it to crochet or knit. Here’s an example of crochet using plarn that Ana made.

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial and got some inspiration as well!
See you next Friday!

November 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm 2 comments

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