By Christine Bockelman
If you need to spruce up your house for guests this holiday season, look no further than your recycling bin. Pull out the scraps of wrapping paper, week-old newspapers and even those plain 8.5-by-11 printer pages, and be inspired. Paper can be folded and cut to make everything from decorative wreaths and three-dimensional wall hangings to table and window coverings.
“Paper comes in a lot of varieties,” says Helen Hiebert, paper artist and author of “Playing with Paper: Illuminating, Engineering and Reimagining Paper Art” (Quarry Books, 2013). “It comes in different colors and prints, can be infused with gold flecks or have flower petals in it. It can be like fabric.”
Hiebert weaves papers into guest-worthy table runners, makes delicate lamp shades using translucent paper and folds colored waxed paper into stars that can hang in front of a window to play with light. She has also made paper window shades, using accordion-type folds tied together with cords.
For those new to paper crafts, kits are available for kids and adults, which provide all the paper and direction needed to create a project. “The kits are very simple, but make these beautiful decorative, and functional, objects for the home and are great for those not familiar with paper crafts,” says Hiebert, who recently created her own kits for decorative tabletop paper shadow lanterns.
“Paper crafts can be very unexpected,” says Rebecca Thuss, who with her husband Patrick Farrell wrote and photographed, “Paper to Petal: 75 Whimsical Paper Flowers to Craft by Hand” (Potter Craft, 2013). “Imagine sitting down at a dinner party in front of a beautiful vase, and then realizing the flowers in it are made of paper. It’s sort of a wonderful surprise.”
Paper flowers can also be used to make wreaths or used en masse to make bold wall hangings. “There is no shortage of ideas for crafting with paper. It’s versatile, inexpensive and a lot of paper crafts are not complicated,” Thuss says.
There are some skills to be learned, though. Thuss, for instance, typically works with crepe papers and floral tape to make her paper blooms.
“You have to pull and stretch it to make floral tape sticky, so it requires some practice,” Thuss says. “Most crafts need practice, though. If you’ve never knitted before, you can’t make a scarf without doing some reading. It’s the same with paper. You have to build your skills.”
She recommends newcomers start very simply. “Just play around with some basic white paper, wire and floral tape. Use some food coloring to dye the paper. See what you can create.”
Irene Park, a designer at event-branding company Southern Fried Paper in Dallas, Texas, created an elaborate, permanent piece of art using leftover wrapping sheets from a client’s retail store. The piece was inspired by a similar one hanging in the Southern Fried Paper studio.
“The homeowner wanted a circular shape that would be large enough to fill an empty wall, so I created flowers that would fit that frame” Park says.
She nailed a few foam core panels to the wall as a base for the sculpture, and placed a few flowers on each panel, starting in the middle with a statement-making yellow flower. The sculpture was completed with more than 15 other paper flowers in various sizes and textures of paper.
“It’s an easy way to brighten your home,” Park says.