The recycling bin can be a source of creative inspiration. Steve Curwood talks to Kayte Terry about the fun and functional projects in her new book “Paper Made: 101 Exceptional Projects to Make Out of Everyday Paper.”
GELLERMAN: Americans recycle about 90 billion pounds of paper every year.
That makes your share about 300 pounds. So what are you doing with all your old printouts, magazines, and newspapers? You can toss ‘em…recycle ‘em, or take some advice from Kayte Terry. Living on Earth's Steve Curwood talked to Kayte Terry about the projects in her new book, Paper Made.
CURWOOD: So, Kayte Terry, in your book, which is called “Paper Made: 101 Exceptional Projects to Make Out of Everyday Paper” you say that the recycling bin is the new craft closet- what made you start making art materials out of something that would have otherwise been thrown away?
TERRY: I’ve really been doing it since I was a little kid. My mom is a very, very crafty lady and she has always just talked to me about using just humble materials and turning them into amazing things. And, I think it’s, you know, some of it can be out necessity, but a lot of it is just looking at a raw material and thinking of all the things that you can do with it and just kind of opening your mind.
CURWOOD: We all know about recycling paper. Your book is about upcycling paper. What does that mean?
TERRY: Well, I think about upcycling as taking just sort of a humble material such as cardboard, Yellow Pages, things like that and keeping them out of the recycle bin entirely and actually using them for functional things. So, using cardboard boxes to make an actual piece of furniture that’s functional. Using Yellow Pages to make beads that you can use into a necklace. And, I think it’s just about thinking about what you have and what you can work with and all of the different kind of things you can do with it.
CURWOOD: Now, I had a grandmother who was extremely frugal, but she would be impressed at the notion of using cardboard to make furniture. How do you do that?
TERRY: It’s actually really easy. Cardboard is very, very sturdy, you just need a lot of boxes. And, I actually moved a couple of years ago from Brooklyn to Philadelphia and I had tons and tons of cardboard boxes sitting in my basement, and I decided to make a table out of them. And, basically what you’re dong is cutting the same shape out of cardboard over and over again, and when you put it together it’s just as sturdy as a piece of wood.
CURWOOD: So, I have your book in front of me, and I’ve opened it up to page 54, which you may or may not remember, requires the use of empty toilet paper rolls.
TERRY: Oh, yeah. [LAUGHS]
CURWOOD: And, you call this the “Secret Stash Beaded Curtain.”
TERRY: Um. [LAUGHS] I was, again, trying to think of all sorts of different things to make out of materials that you would normally just toss away. And, what do you toss away a lot of into a recycling bin? Empty toilet paper rolls. And, I just thought it would be funny that no-one really knows where these things come from… no one knows what it’s made of. You don’t have to tell anyone that it’s empty toilet paper rolls if you don’t want to. But, you know, once you cut them into little pieces and paint them and hang them from string, they just look like wood beads.
CURWOOD: Now, as I understand it, there is special arm room that you need for your book. In particular, it’s a gun, right, a hot glue gun? That’s the secret to success here?
TERRY: A hot glue gun is a great tool to have. It’s pretty inexpensive. It’s great for paper. It adheres all kinds of papers together and it’s not as dangerous as it sounds.
CURWOOD: [LAUGHS] I suspect many households in America have a deck of cards… well, not quite a full deck of cards. You have a pretty fascinating project to re-use those, to upcycle those cards. Tell me about it:
TERRY: I come from a family of serious card playing. So, we would always come up against that problem where one of the decks falls short and you don’t have 52 playing cards anymore, so I decided to come up with an idea for making those cards into a lampshade. And, it’s pretty simple. All you do is actually sew each of the cards together. And once you sew all of the cards into strips, you can actually mold them into kind of a 3-D shape.
CURWOOD: You know, I get a lot of magazines, and honestly, I don’t really read all of them. But there’s a way I could upcycle these things that you have in your book, right?
TERRY: Oh, definitely!
CURWOOD: What do you recommend?
TERRY: Pretty much anything that you could make in my book that involves paper, you could use a magazine. There’s a vase in the book that is actually made from just hundreds of little rolled paper rings, and when you put them altogether they make this really beautiful geometric-shaped modern vase.
CURWOOD: I was really impressed by something that’s rather simple in here. It’s what you call “Paper Trail Earrings.” These things look beautiful and they don’t cost much of anything and they’re easy to do.
TERRY: They’re really easy. They’re just pieces of different colored paper, and I used, actually, some gold paper. And you just fold them into a simple shape and the mix of all the different colors and the different patterns together creates something amazing- and you can tailor it to whatever colors are your favorite. That’s one of my favorite things about working with paper is it’s so easy to find so many different scraps in so many prints and patterns and colors, and you can really personalize pretty much anything in this book.
CURWOOD: Kayte Terry’s new book is called “PaperMade: 101 Exceptional Projects to Make Out of Everyday Paper.” Thank you so much, Kayte Terry.
TERRY: Thank you!
CURWOOD: This is Steve Curwood.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.
Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.