Printmaking can be very addictive. There are so many techniques to try, different papers and inks to use and always, the hope that the next print will be wonderful.
In this process of creating and experimenting, there is plenty of abandoned scrap paper. Some of these scraps are prints with pesky mistakes – a smudge here or a bleed from the stencil, many discarded prints are the result of glorious sessions of “what happens if …” and some of the scrap paper has been used to lift off the ink to clean the plate. Some of these bits of paper can be salvaged but some need slightly more creative recycling.
Call us environmentally friendly, frugal or just tight-fisted but we can’t bear to throw away paper that might have another use and have devised a few creative recycling ideas for the scrap paper.
Ten Creative Ways to Recycle Scrap Paper
1 Paper Making
All the strips of clean, unused paper that are the result of trimming paper to size, are kept to one side for a paper making session.
2 Make a Scrap Paper Jotter
Use a bulldog clip to make a scrap paper jotter. It’s surprising how often we need to make a quick note when we have inky fingers and our proper notebook is in the clean area. Keeping these scrap paper jotters to hand means precious measurements and details can be noted on something slightly more substantial than a loose scrap of paper.
3 Gesso and Start Again
Gesso over the worst prints and start again with a sheet of white paper or leave some printed areas uncovered to add interest. This is probably only worth doing if you have some particularly good paper that you just can’t bear to throw away but are happy to experiment on.
4 Make Small Notebooks
Make smalll notebooks with simple card covers. You can sew them together in sections or punch holes and thread through ribbon and tie together. It just depends how durable you need them to be. The notebook above is made from waste paper, sewn together in sections (there’s a good explanation here for making a sewn book) . To protect the covers, paint over a wash of 2 parts PVA glue to 1 part water to make the cover slightly more durable. Make a tiny pocketed notebook from a single sheet of paper liket this one.
5 Use Offcuts to Make Gift Tags
Use trimmings and offcuts to make gift tags. Or bookmarks. Or index card tabs.
6 Make Christmas Decorations
7 Make Your Own Washi Tape
Strictly speaking, make your own decorative tape unless you’re using Japanese paper. This is the easiest method we know of making decorative tape. Use it decorate all sorts of things, including your Visual Journal or fasten your hand made envelopes below.
8 Chine Collee and Collage
The tissue paper used to lift the ink from a jelly plate is full of pattern and can be run through the press with drypoint or lino plates to create areas of colour and texture on the prints. Alternatively, the decorated tissue paper can be collaged onto card to make pictures in the style of The Very Hungry Catterpillar. Use the techniques in our guide to making decorative tape for an easy way to do this.
9 Use Sheets of Printed Paper to Make Decorative Envelopes
My favourite way to recycle scrap paper is to make envelopes. I think a hand printed card needs to be of good quality but who cares if the printing on the envelope is a bit dodgy? A brightly coloured, hand printed envelope is a lot more exciting than the usual boring post.
It’s amazingly easy to make your own envelopes and probably the most difficult part is deciding what size to make them. Follow these easy instructions for making your own envelopes.
10 Shred It
When all else fails, the scrap paper can be shredded and used for packing.
Are you a creative recycler with more ideas to add to the list? Do tell.