Archive for September, 2013

Upcycled Crafts: Paper Lilies

Hello there and happy Friday!

Today we’ll be covering how to make paper lilies. Like many of our paper flowers, there’s a template to make things easier. These lilies look great on their own or put together in bunches in a vase. We are currently making 80 lilies to fill a custom order for center pieces. Phew!

To make a paper lily, you will need:


Cardstock or cardboard


Hot Glue


Step 1:

Make a template out of sturdy cardstock or cardboard. It doesn’t need to be perfectly symmetrical. If the edges are a little rough, that’s okay, it makes it look more natural.

Lilies 2

Step 2:

Trace 6 petals and two leaves. Also, cut out a rectangle that’s as long as the petals, and about ¾” wide. Cut two thirds of this rectangle into thin strips, leaving the base intact so you can wrap it around the twig. This rectangle is the stamen of the lily. Curl the strips of the stamen with the edge of your scissors. Next, curl your petals, making sure three of the petals have a sharper curve than the others. These will form the outside ring of petals.

Step 3:

Now for assembly. Wrap the base of the stamen around the tip of the twig and apply hot glue. Next, take the three less curled petals and glue them around the stamen. Take the other three and make a second ring of petals around the stamen, positioning them so that they alternate with the first ring of petals, as shown in the picture of lilies from above.

Lilies 1

Step 4:

Now add leaves. We like to curl these as well, adding one to the base and one lower down on the twig. All done. See you next Friday!


September 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Notepads

Hello everyone! As you may have read in previous blog posts, I was out on maternity leave and just now am returning with more crafting ideas. I wanted to thank my awesome coworkers here at Recycled Reads for keeping up the craft blog and staying crafty in general. They continue to inspire and impress me! It’s great to be back, and I am looking forward to experimenting with new ideas for upcycling. Right before I gave birth, I was preparing for our Upcycle This program that featured notepads, so I wanted to share a photo of my notepad. I used a topographic map and brads to hold the pages together, so it’s a pretty straightforward project that’s easily done in an afternoon. Just cut all the pages to the same size, then align when you make the holes for the brads. I used a book binding needle to make the holes, carefully holding the pages together so all the holes lined up. This is probably the most challenging part. After making two sets of holes, I put in the brads and had a nice little notepad to show for a couple hours’ work.


I hear that the program was pretty successful, which is great! Although since returning I am a little more tired thanks to my little one, I am still dedicated to cause of spreading the mission of Recycled Reads: keeping books out of our landfills and giving them a second life either by selling them or, if they’re damaged, by upcycling them.

Do you have any ideas for upcycling? Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see as far as craft programming for Recycled Reads.

September 21, 2013 at 1:36 am Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Rolled Vinyl = new keychains for our bathroom keys!

With one last Friday before we officially have Laura back on the Craft Blogs (yay!), here is a follow up to the guest post from APL Employee and fabulous Media dude, Paul.




Vinyl records, the thinner the better—and make sure they’re not records anyone wants to listen to anymore!

Solar Reflector (optional)

CAUTION! The most important thing to be said about melting records is that Vinyl (PVC) is toxic, especially when heated.   Never melt records in your oven.  Don’t eat from bowls used in melted record crafts, and use gloves when handling hot vinyl.

We melt records using a solar reflector made from discarded CDs.  Even in late August (when these crafts were made), Texas heat lends itself very nicely to record-melting. Today’s crafts are a display bowl and giant keychain for Recycled Reads’ bathrooms.  We heat the records on a piece of metal (the container for a reel of 16mm film) placed under the focus of our curved reflector.  Now, you may not have a container for a real of 16mm film lying around, but be resourceful!

vinylmelt 1

The sunned records become flexible after a few minutes, but must be shifted around like a pizza to heat evenly.  For the display bowl, we place the floppy record over a bowl and push it in.  We weighed it down and placed it back under the reflector to try and get it as bowl-shaped as possible, but once the record is no longer on a hot surface it’s hard to get it any softer.

For the key holder, we rolled the soft records, and placed the ends of the rolls back under the focus to soften them up before pounding a hole with a nail.

vinylmelt 3 (3)

September 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Solar Reflector

Happy Friday, y’all! A few weeks back we showed you one way to melt vinyl records–with a solar reflector! We asked the creator of said reflector, Paul, to guest post for us while Laura is still away on maternity leave. Paul works at the Austin Public Library and spends time at Recycled Reads making our Media section look snazzy. One reason we love Paul so much is that he always looks at recycled materials as the building blocks to something different and better.

Here’s how he made the 100.00% Upcycled Solar Reflector!



  • 1 square meter section of metal wire fence
  • 2.5 meters of thin PVC pipe, and 2 L joints
  • 2 meters of Ethernet or phone cable
  • 50-100 unwanted CDs or DVDs (highly reflective ones, so not CDRs)

Form a curved surface with the fencing.  BONUS: If the piece of fence was stored in a roll, this is already done.  The PVC will support your reflector.  Cut the pipe into 3 pieces, one ½-meter and two 1-meter. Connect these to form a rectangle minus one side.   Attach the parallel (1m) pipes to the back (convex) side of the curved fencing, with the 1/2m pipe bisecting the curve to form a handle at the top.  I used telephone wire to attach PVC to fencing along the vertical 1m pipes.  Choose about 50 of the most reflective discs.  DVDs tend to have more reflective surface toward the middle of the disc, so these are best.  Slice open your Ethernet or phone cable and rip out the smaller wires form their plastic sleeve.  Cut these into 12cm segments. Use these bits of wire as twist-ties to attach the discs, shiny side facing out from the concave side. (EDIT: Metric system goof-up! When making your upcycled twisty-ties (that’s a technical term), cut them closer to 30cm segments). I used a pair of pliers to twist the wire easily and hold the discs firmly to the fencing.  Extra CDs can be stacked and tied together to form weights attached to the bottom of the reflector to keep it upright in the wind.



We’re really excited to show you what else Paul has made with the Solar Reflector. Stay tuned to next week’s Craft Blog!

September 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm 1 comment

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