Archive for March, 2014

Upcycled Crafts: Organicycling

We’re always trying to come up with the craftiest, most creative ways to reuse and repurpose materials so that they stay out of the landfill. We also like to think up new words, which is what this post is about: organicycling is a term we came up with to describe part of what we do with our crafting. It’s like upcycling, but using organic materials like tree branches and rocks. We used tree branches and rocks to make our tree that we had on display at Maker Faire last year, pictured below.


As Ruth, who coined the term, says, organicycling is all about drawing inspiration from nature. She spent many a walk with her dog, searching for the perfect tree branch for our tree. Of course, we are not the first ones to draw inspiration from nature – humans have been doing that from the very beginning. However, we not only draw inspiration from nature, but know we have to work hard to help preserve it for future generations. One of the big reasons that we do our upcycled crafting is to use it as a vehicle with which to educate people about the importance of conserving our resources.

With this goal of preserving and protecting nature in mind, the term organicycling seems only, well, natural!


March 27, 2014 at 11:50 pm Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Pinatas

For this week’s craft blog, we’d like to highlight our efforts at making pinatas for events both at Recycled Reads and at other branches of Austin Public Library. More specifically, the pinatas We just made, shoe shaped pinatas, are for our upcoming programs during April, which is also Million Mile Month. You can learn more about Million Mile Month at their website, but a brief explanation is spreading the word about fitness by challenging the community to log a million miles during the month of April, either through walking, running, or cycling.

To make these pinatas, we used two small cardboard boxes for the frames, cutting out the middle of each side, leaving just a skeleton framework. We had volunteers cover this frame work with newspaper soaked in water mixed with glue, aka papier mache. To make the toe and top portion of the shoe, we used stiff poster paper to create a framework and papier mached over that.

After letting the pinatas dry over night, we had a fresh batch of volunteers come to decorate them using precut paper. Another volunteer (we couldn’t do these great feats without volunteers!) laboriously cut fringe onto pages of damaged books, with which we decorated the pinatas with. Below are some photos of the still-wet shoes, and then me modelling the finished product.

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Come see our pinatas in person! We’ll have one at the Million Mile event at the Milwood branch on Saturday April 12th at 10:30am and at Recycled Reads on Sunday April 27th at 12pm.

March 22, 2014 at 3:38 am Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Altoid Tin Refrigerator Magnets

We were very happy to be a part of DIY: Make it Awesome held at the Manchaca Branch library today. I had the honor of helping to staff the refrigerator magnet table, where crafters could create their own magnets. You too can make your own magnet! All you need is a mint or candy tin, scraps of colorful paper, and some objects tiny enough to fit inside for a cute tableau.

All the magnets that were made were works of art in and of themselves. Here’s a sampling of the creativity:

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Build your library in the sky.

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Ninja vs. teddy bear!

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Butterflies by the dozen.

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My personal favorite: Chick being abducted by aliens!

March 15, 2014 at 4:13 am Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Springtime Bags

We don’t know about you, but we’re in a hurry for springlike weather here in Central Texas! In hopes of bringing on warmer weather, we featured Springtime gift bags at our last Upcycle This! Craft night. It’s fairly simple, take a large piece of paper, such as an old poster or map, and wrap it around something, like a shoebox or a book. We had spring themed scrapbook punches on hand as well as many different kinds of scrap paper. Here are the creative results of what our participants came up with:

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Thanks again to those that participated! Next month we’ll be featuring woven baskets for Upcycle This. Be sure to check back for more craftiness.


March 8, 2014 at 4:30 am Leave a comment

Upcycled Crafts: Crafting for 5 years and counting!

Welcome to our 5 year anniversary craft post! In honor of Recycled Reads’ 5 year anniversary, we decided to take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about some of the crafting that’s been done here. The first crafting we can remember started with what else? Books of course! Here’s a sampling of some of our folded books that we made:


I remember doing some of these when I interned at Recycled Reads a few years back. Our own Mary Beth, who has moved on to another library (we miss you dearly!) was a pro at folding books. Here’s the link to our blog on folded books.

When Ruth arrived at Recycled Reads, our crafting endeavors increased dramatically. Some of the first crafts we experimented with were paper wreaths and paper bows, shown below:

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Ever since then, we’ve continued to craft away, always looking for new possibilities. Here’s a snapshot of our table at the Austin Mini Maker Faire in 2013. We’ll be there again this year, and will be sure to provide you with the latest information so you can visit our table there.


We’ve come a long way, and not only in crafting! Come celebrate a great 5 years with us this weekend at the store, and don’t forget to visit one of our craft nights, the first Thursday night of every month.

March 1, 2014 at 4:01 am 2 comments

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