From The Vault: How To Save That Old Bangle

Our team and our blog have been around for six years now and we have published an enormous amount of information, tutorials, and pretty pictures. The From The Vault series seeks to resurrect some of those goodies so they are not forgotten. Today's vault post on how to upcycle an old bangle was published by Danielle on April 30, 2008. Check out her tutorial here. Happy Summer!

The Eco-Friendly One Person Business

This post is inspired by the upcoming panel discussion How to Make It: Implementing Green Practices in Your Designs sponsored by Uncommon Goods and scheduled for February 5th. The panel will discuss means of making your designs and business practices more eco-friendly and how doing so might make your business more competitive. For those of you who can't make this free event or want to think about how to implement some greener practices in your business right now, here are some suggestions:

City Cats by Deborah Julian on recycled card stock

1. Paper 

This is always the first one that comes to mind and here is how you can become a greener paper consumer: 

  • Use the cloud, e.g. Google Docs, Dropbox etc., to collaborate on documents instead of printing them out
  • Try to edit most of your work online instead of on a hard copy
  • If you do need to print something, try to set the margins smaller to print more information per page, use the black print setting instead of the color setting and print in draft mode. These practices will result in using less paper and ink.
  • And as a reminder, here are the obvious ideas: buy recycled paper, print on both sides, reuse paper as scratch paper, use your recycling bin

Vintage Salt Sack iPad Case by Fritz and Fraulein

2. Energy

Turn it off! When you are done with your work, turn off your computer. For ease of use, plug in your computer and all it's peripherals into a power strip and once you power down your computer you can turn everything off with one push of the button. Set your monitor to turn off after a reasonable time of inactivity instead of using a screensaver. And finally, remember to unplug your chargers when you don't use them. Yes, it comes down to about $1/year/charger but every little bit counts.

3. Office Furniture and Supplies

Use Freecycle or Craigslist to reuse rather than buy new items. For example, right now there are 5 office desks available on Freecycle New York City and assorted three ring binders are looking for a new home on Craigslist.

Salvaged Slate Tray by SimplyNu

4. Price Tags and Displays

Be creative in finding recyclables for your shop supplies. My grandmother who owned an antique shop in Missouri cut out her own display signs out of cereal boxes. Recycle scarves and fabrics into wrappings and furoshiki shopping bags.

I'm sure you can think of many other ways to start off the year on a greener foot. We'd love for you to share them with us!


How-To: Making a Miniature Artist's Canvas

I have always been obsessed with creating miniature versions of the things I use in my everyday life. I think the extra focus required to make miniature objects imbues the tiny things I make with a special quality--as if they are more charged with meaning than they would be at their regular size. Another reason to spend your time making tiny stuff is that it doesn't take up a whole lot of space, which, if you have friends who live in small apartments and want to give them beautiful handmade things but don't want to burden them with a lot of clutter, is a very good thing!

This tutorial will teach you how to make dollhouse-sized blank artists' canvases from empty tissue, granola bar and cereal boxes, which you can then paint and add to friends' art collections. I am hoping I can spark a whole trendy miniature painting craze!

Here's what you will need:
-empty boxes made from thin cardboard that you otherwise would have tossed into the recycling
-muslin fabric
-white glue
-acrylic gesso
-a normal size brush for applying the gesso, plus teeny tiny ones for doing the actual painting
-acrylic paints
-a gridded acrylic ruler is helpful for making accurate right angles when cutting up your boxes

Step 1: Figure out what size you want your miniature canvas to be. You can just eyeball the size if you like, but if you want it to be the perfect size to fit into a dollhouse, you'll want to do a little math. The standard size for dollhouse accessories is 1/12 scale, which means that you want to divide all your regular measurements by 12. If the full-sized painting would be 18 by 24 inches, then you want to make your mini canvas 1 and 1/2 inches by 2 inches.

Step 2: Once you have cut your cardboard to size, spread it with a thin layer of white glue and stick it to a piece of muslin. Make sure that the sides of your canvas are parallel to the grain of the fabric.

Step 3: Fold the fabric around to the back of the canvas and glue it down.

Make sure the folded fabric edge is glued slightly inside the edges of the cardboard so it can't be seen from the front.

Step 4: When your glue has dried, paint your canvas with a thin layer of acrylic gesso. You want to make sure not to put the gesso on too thickly, because being able to see the grain of your muslin is crucial to having a miniature painting that looks like the full-sized version. If you want to have an especially texture-y canvas, try different types of fabric and see which one looks best.

Paint gesso on the edges & back as well.

That's it! These miniature canvases are so easy and fun to make that you can create hundreds of them in nearly no time, then invite some friends over to have a painting party.

Then you and your friends can have a miniature art show:

Stella (lookcloselypress)

New Ways with Magazines

I've always tried to be a little earth friendly. I love recycled crafts because they are so much fun, and can be a real to challenge yourself, you know? So, here's a couple of fun things you can do with magazines. Personally, I love to use fashion mags best, but you can pick whatever you wish.

One popular idea on Etsy, is re-purposed envelopes. These are easy-peasy to make.

1. You don't need a template, just save the envelopes from the greeting cards people give you. Be sure to open it nicely so nothing rips.

2. Take the envelope apart, so that all the parts are laid out flat. This will be your template.

3. Whip out those old magazines, and trace the outline of the envelope on them. Cut it out, then fold and glue at the sides.

That is all there is to it! Easy, right? Simple! Using this method, you can make envelopes of any shape you want, too! That's the fun of it. You can get pages that have similar themes, like cakes, fashion clippings, things like that, and sell them together. Or get old bridal magazines, and sell the re purposed envelopes in sets.

Another cool idea is to use the images and words in magazines for collage work. My husband does that a lot. That's so much fun because every page can be used for something!

You can also make paper beads with recycled magazines.

There are two ways you can go about this: you can do the decoupage version, which is quick and easy, or you can get your heat gun, embossing ink, and ultra thick embossing powder and do it that way. Personally, I prefer the latter, but being a full time stay at home mom, I don't have the time. So I do it with Decoupage and Diamond Effects.

First thing you'll want to do is get yourself a good paper cutter. You'll also need Diamond Effects and a Decoupage medium.

1. You're going to cut your paper into 1/2" wide strips. Or however wide you want. Just remember that the width of the paper, will be the length of the bead you make. Got it? Good. So, cut up that paper! Each strip makes one bead, so cut away my friend!

2. You're going to use just a tap of glue (I prefer a glue stick, for less mess), and glue the end of the strip, then wrap it loosely around. When you get to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the tip, add a dab of a glue. You are going to be sitting there until this dries well enough to let go of, which is why I love my glue stick.

3. You can use wire to string the beads, then go over them with Mod Podge (decoupage medium), and Diamond Effects. But you can use anything! Depending on how tightly you wrap your beads, you can even use skewers, or something. But a nice sturdy wire works. I like to fashion a makeshift clothing line out of the wire to let the beads dry.

Voila! You have a paper bead. You can make pretty earrings, and all kinds of fun jewelry with it.
You can even paint them, or add glitter to it if you want.

Want more ideas?

Another cool thing you can do is make an end table out of magazines! Or, you can make gift bows out of them! What a cool idea! Don't feel like doing anything with them? You can always donate them to a local library, or nursing home or hospital.

Just use your imagination, and have fun!

The Craftaholic
Sweet Buddha Designs

Drawing the Curtain on Winter

I have a friend who I would consider to be my wardrobe refashion-enabler. Over the years I have gotten tons of “hand-me-downs” from her that often need just a little tweaking to be wearable. Sometimes she just provides the raw materials. This is one of those instances. She gave me a pretty flowered curtain that I’ve had lying about for a while as I waited for inspiration to strike. Spring is just starting to appear here in New York, so I thought that it might be time to cut into the lovely yellow and orange flowers. Now, normally I am a pattern-follower, but I thought that I would try a little improvisation on this project.

First I cut off the hem and the hanging sleeve. The fabric has a directional pattern so I folded the curtain in half, cut along the fold and rotated one layer so that the flowers were all headed in one direction.

I chose a basic a-line skirt that I like and used it as a very basic pattern. I lay the skirt on top of the fabric and cut around it, keeping the bottom quite wide so that the skirt would have more of a flare (surely all flowery skirts should be the swing-y kind).

Then I sewed up the two sides—adding a short zipper to the left side-seam—and tried the skirt on in order to improvised some darts. Voila!

It was done, but it was little boring.

It needed a little more zing and I apparently needed a little more of a challenge (it is wardrobe refashion challenge, after all.) I had a fair amount of fabric left over so I thought I would turn this from a simple a-line skirt to a slightly-less-simple gored skirt. I tried the skirt on again and decided where the gores should go. I folded the skirt in half with the side seams together and measured and marked a straight line parallel to the folds (the center front and back).

I then took a deep breath and cut long slits along these lines. Then I cut four triangular pieces of fabric from my scraps that were the same length as these slits in the skirt. I initially tried to insert the gores using lapped seams (these come up a lot in the vintage patterns that I like to use) but something about this technique made them look flat and I wanted a bouncy, swishy skirt. So I ripped out the seams and tried again by reinforcing the top of the slit with a little stay-stitching and then pinning and sewing the gores in one side at a time. I liked this result much more. It gives the gores a little more of a three-dimensional effect.

I am finally happy with the skirt though it still needs a proper hem and waistband (probably in some contrasty color) and I am waiting anxiously for spring to really arrive so that I may wear it out!

Tanya Luck(x4)

How-To: Turn Bags into Beads

I've become somewhat of a curator of plastic bags. In fact, there are some doors you shouldn't open in my house because you will be buried under an avalanche of interesting plastic. Primarily, I fuse these bags into collages and turn them into other things like: BEADS.

If you would like to transform your own collection of plastic bags into beads, follow these instructions:


  • Clean plastic bag

  • Parchment paper

  • Iron

  • E6000 or similar glue

  • Toothpicks

  • Scissors

  • Ruler
Fusing the Plastic

Place two layers of plastic between two sheets of parchment on a hard surface and iron them together using a low setting with the steam set to off.

That will leave you with a sheet that looks like this:

Making the Bead

Cut out a triangular shape that is about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide at the bottom. You can play around with the sizing. The wider the triangle, the longer the bead and the longer the triangle, the fatter the bead.

With a toothpick, apply a thin layer of E6000 or similar glue to one side of your triangle. Leave a small strip free of glue at the base of the triangle. Place a clean toothpick at the base and roll up the triangle around the toothpick so it shapes an oval bead. Jiggle the toothpick a little to make sure that it doesn't stick to the bead.

Leave the toothpick in the bead and stick it into something to dry overnight. I used a dried out bit of Model Magic clay, but any kind of Styrofoam, etc. will work as well.

Once your bead is dry you can lacquer it or leave it as is and use it in a project like this:

or this:

Happy Recycling!


How-To: Recycle Junk Mail into Paper Beads

bead tutorial, header

With just a few pieces of basic equipment, you can turn your boring old junk mail into cute paper beads! These lightweight, bulky beads are great for making fun chunky jewelry, festive garlands, or a bead curtain to hang in your doorway (if you're feeling ambitious!)


- Kitchen blender
- 2 Buckets
- Large bowl or tub
- Sieve
- Awl
- Cutting mat
- PVA (white) glue
- Acrylic gesso
- Acrylic paints
- Clear varnish
- Paintbrushes
- Paper for recycling.

For this tutorial, I loosely packed a 1-gallon bucket about 3/4 full with scraps, which yielded around 100 beads ranging in size from 1/2"-1".

Ideal papers to use: anything printed on standard office paper, business envelopes, take-out menus with a matte finish, kraft paper.

Papers to avoid: glossy or coated papers such as magazine pages, waxed paper, newspapers and phonebooks (the ink is very messy and gross), facial tissue, paper towels.

NOTE: I recommend that you have dedicated equipment for home recycling/papermaking, rather than use the same items you use for food preparation. A good, used blender can easily be found at a thrift shop or yard sale. My rule is: if I use it for papermaking, I don't use it for food.

beadtutorial 1

STEP 1: Tear paper into 1" scraps. Make sure you remove any staples and all plastic windows from business envelopes. Place torn scraps in a bucket, fill with water, and let it soak overnight.

STEP 2: Now it's time to make pulp! Put a couple of handfuls of paper into the blender and fill blender about half-full with water. Blend until the paper has the consistency of oatmeal, about 10 seconds. Place sieve over second bucket, and empty blender into sieve. After the pulp in the sieve has drained a bit, manually squeeze out excess water before transferring pulp to large bowl or tub. Repeat this step until all your scraps have been pulped, drained, and squeezed.

STEP 3: Add a nice big dollop of white glue to the pulp, mixing it in with your hands.

STEP 4: Roll yourself some beads! Take a bit of pulp and roll it into a little ball between your palms. This is the tricky part. If the pulp has too much water in it, it won't hold together. If it has too little water, it will be too crumbly to hold together, and your beads will break apart. Try rolling a couple beads and see how it goes. If the pulp is too wet to hold together, squeeze out more water. If the pulp is too crumbly, add back a little more water and some glue. You'll soon get a feel for the proper consistency, and it's easy to make little adjustments as you go. When in doubt, add more glue!

beadtutorial 2

Once you've formed all your pulp into little balls, let them sit in a nice, out-of-the-way spot until they are dry as a bone.

STEP 5: Put holes in your beads with an awl. Working on a cutting mat to protect your work surface, hold the bead steady between your thumb and forefinger and press the awl slowly and firmly straight down through the bead.

STEP 6: I like to prime my beads with a nice thick coat of undiluted gesso because it helps to smooth over the rough surface. This step isn't absolutely necessary, and you can go straight to decorating your beads with paint, if you want.

STEP 7: Grab your paints and brushes and go nuts!

STEP 8: When the paint is dry, you can brush on a coat of clear varnish to give your new beads a little added protection and shine.
beadtutorial 3

Get Creative in the Office: Reuse and Recycle

As a struggling artist, I have held various temporary office assignments and one thing they all had in common was a tremendous amount of waste. There was so much paper accumulating and being improperly disposed of. Office supplies were reordered even when the shelves were fully stocked. It was impossible to keep up with the amount of paper piling up, but I thought of several ways to do my part and reuse what I could. Here's one thing I did:

We had stacks of interoffice envelopes, which in theory are great because you can keep using them over and over again until all the lines are filled up. I actually liked the patterns that months of different people's signatures and marker cross-outs created, so I hoarded used up inter-office envelopes and created notebooks! It is such a simple concept. I needed notebooks to take notes for my various assignments (and doodles!) and rather than use brand new pads of paper, I made my own.

Simply get a box or tray to store your used paper that has at least one blank side. Once you have a considerable amount to make a notebook, cut your interoffice envelope to the size of your stack of paper. To secure the notebook, I used a 2-hole punch and steel fasteners, which my office had loads of. But you can easily use staples, brads, or even slip rubber bands through the hole punches. And here is the finished product:

Feel free to add any creative recycling solutions you've come up with in the office place!

Molly Shoelace

Using Upcycled Materials

Upcyle is a term generally used to denote the re-use of materials bound for the trash in the creation of new items. It's generally associated with environmentalism as it reduces waste and promotes imaginative recycling. Many {NewNew} members upcycle their materials into wonderfully inventive new pieces that are each unique.

Search "newnewteam, upcycle" on Etsy or look through these featured shops whose products focus on the re-use of materials. In all fairness, I will go alphabetically...

First we have Beadscarf, who focuses her products on re-using vintage scarves and neckties into new accessories. Items can be custom ordered, turning an old scarf with sentimental meaning into an original Beadscarf. I can't think of a better use for wedding ties or grandmas's old scarf to keep the memories alive in such a vibrant way.

Cakehouse also uses only reclaimed materials in her work, breathing new life into vintage bedding to create napkins, place mats and coasters for your home. Further decorated with her signature llama or cat water-based silkscreen, each item merges the old with the new.

As a self-proclaimed "serial obsessive crafter", Groundsel focuses her crafting activities on re-using a wide range of materials to create bags, wallets and tissue cozies. With purses made from upcycled sweaters, or wallets that began their lives as plastic bags, Groundsel brings an environmental consciousness to her crafting.Paperelle uses mainly upcycled materials in her paper origami, creating jewelry from upcycled Upstate New York maps or Japanese Teen Magazines to name a few, and sometimes embellished with crystals to further accent these One Of A Kind (OOAK) earrings.

All month long we will be featuring upcycled {NewNew} goods, tips on getting crafty while recycling, Springtime features and general about town reporting for metro New York!


Cabin Fever Project #2: The T-Shirt Book Cover

by Lorina of The Original Beadscarf

Everytime my mother-in-law goes somewhere on vacation, she has this almost primal need to buy my husband and myself t-shirts emblazoned with the place she has just returned from. Now while it's very endearing of her to think of us, and I do graciously accept it, I never, ever wear them. However, I do tuck it away so that I might give those shirts a second life someday.

And so here's a nifty little project for you to try out, when you don't want to go out, when it's cold out. It's a take on the paper book cover that we were forced as kids to cover all our books with.

The T-Shirt Book Cover

You'll need:

t-shirt (preferably one with an interesting pattern, you can also try concert T's!)
book (that you want to cover)
good pair of scissors
tailor's chalk/pencil
tape measure
straight pins
needle and thread, (preferably a sewing machine)

How to:

1. Place your t-shirt on a flat surface and your book (open) on to the area you would like to use for your cover.

2. Measure the book and cut the t-shirt around the book while giving an allowance of 3" on the sides, and 1.5" on the top and bottom of the book, like so:

3. Fold the top and bottom excess edging parts in to create a sturdy and clean edge for your book cover and pin down like so:

4. Sew the edges down:

5. Fold and sew down the sides of the cover being very careful to get as close to the edge as possible (1/8"), this is where you create the "pocket" for the front and back covers of the book.

6. Put your swanky new book cover on your book!

7. Show off your fancy new book cover.....maybe even to the mother-in-law who gave you that tourist t-shirt, lest it inspire her to give you more t-shirts!!!! Enjoy!!!

For more great blogs from Lorina of The Original Beadscarf, click HERE!