You have probably been hearing a lot lately about upcycling, especially on DIY websites or places such as Etsy that specialize in homemade and craft items. But what is it? Upcycling is simply reusing one old object to spice up or change another.
You can do this with any item, from clothing to lamps. But what about using glossy magazines? If you are a fan of magazine subscriptions but those issues are stacking up, save yourself a trip to the recycling center and try these tips to reuse.
Image credit: bravenewtraveler at Flickr under a Creative Commons license
1. Spikey Mirror Frame
This awesome idea from DIY Gadgets is a quick way to create a modern and funky looking mirror without spending a lot of cash. This will be a welcome prospect for anyone who has gone to look at the prices of new mirrors, which can actually be in the hundreds for nothing but a standard shape of glass. Keep in mind that this can be done for any shape, not just the circular example they gave.
All you have to do is create a base or find a way to secure the pieces to the mirror itself. I would recommend something like cardboard that can be easily punctured, or even attached pieces of paper. Then, you roll up the pages of the magazine into tight spikes and attach them all around. The effect is really cool, like a multi-colored sun.
2. Bordered Mirror
Another cool mirror idea, this one works by taking various magazine pages and folding them into strips. Then, those are attached to make the appropriate side while reinforcing it. That is then placed in layers around a mirror and secured, to make an interesting looking piece that is less out there than the last design. There is also an additional bonus in the fact that it uses so many pages, so you can get rid of a lot this way.
3. Photo Frame
Using a similar style as the last, this photo frame is really cool and a quick and easy way to spice up a picture. What is so impressive about this frame is that it isn’t attached to anything; the actual frame itself is made from the magazine pages. They have just been thickly rolled and folded over and over, getting smaller until the size of the photo is met. A paper backing would keep the photo in place.
4. Rolled Magazine Table
This is one of the more creative things I have seen on upcycling forums. This table was made by taking various rolled up magazines and using them to create a reinforced structure. This meant combining, securing and stacking them. Then, a piece of glass (though I would recommend clear plastic or plexiglass) was set on top to make a table.
The only downside to this is you would have to take care to make it an actually useable table. Obviously, magazines are not study. But you could easy harden them using various chemical agents found at your hardware or craft store, or even using plaster.
5. Magazine Rack
No joke, someone actually made a magazine rack out of magazines. Which has a kind of circular logic to it. It is also a great decoration idea for people who like a touch of irony in their furniture. Plus, it is easy enough to make, based on the picture.
All you have to do is make two foam or rubber settings that can be attached to the wall. Place them close enough to be able to hold magazines on top, and set two rolled editions inside. Then stack the rest on top. Simple.
6. Magazine Hot Pad
I know what you are thinking: heat and paper don’t mix. Well, in this case you can get away with it, just don’t set them on fire. This Hot pad is made by tightly spiraling magazine rolled pages and pasting them together. The effect is cool looking, but it also really works for holding hot pans and dishes. Just be careful not to put it on the stove.
For some other awesome designs for hot pads, check these out.
7. Magazine Bowl
Anyone who has ever made papier mache will know ways to make a bowl out of a magazine, probably with the help of an inflated balloon. But there is another way, and that is just through folding and pasting. While you won’t be able to use it for a whole lot, such as something wet (cereal would be a bad idea, for example), you can come up with some other uses.
8. Magazine Bag
This is an interesting fashion statement that seems to say, “I am crafty and I recycle.” It takes folded pages and makes them into strips, then interweaves them. You could probably do multiple layers to make it stronger, and then line it on the inside with pasted pages. Then attach a ribbon to turn it into a useable and trendy handbag. It is very pop art chic.
9. Rolled Magazine Art
What I love about using magazine pages in art is that they are colorful, but they can look so neat. This piece rolls up 175 rows of glossy pages and stacks them so perfectly. It is colorful and interesting, but so very simple. It is only one way that you can get creative.
Have more? Share them in the comments…we would love to see your ideas!
The opportunities you are talking about are actually recycling, not upcycling. Upcycling is refining a product’s materials without any degradation of quality or resource value. Upcycling paper is turning paper back into pulp–sending resources back “up” the supply chain to be used again from scratch.
Conversely, recycling refers to taking material components and extending their life by re-incorporating them into a cycle of use. Recycling laundry detergent bottles doesn’t make more laundry detergent bottles–it makes carpets, or fleeces or floor tiles.
This is a common mistake, but upcycling is the superior practice to recycling (how we treat aluminum cans is an upcycling process, as they can be turned back into cans.)I think there were a few commenters trying to correct the confusion on the last upcycling article that you link to as well.
I know you’re right on in terms of technical definitions here. Within the crafting community (so it seems… not a member myself), “upcycling” has come to refer to recycling materials into something more aesthetically pleasing. As an environmentalist, I understand the possibilities for confusion; as someone who used to devote myself to the study and teaching of English,I’d say that’s how language works… but I appreciate your making this distinction.
Yes, Sonia, I agree that the crafting community uses “upcycle” just as you have described. Thanks for sharing.
I believe that upcycling is taking something and making something that maintains or improves upon the quality of the material being used. So taking old magazines and turning them into functional pieces would be upcycling and not just recycling.
Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromatherapy Essential Oils)
Awesome ideas! They make such lovely frames, and I just LOVE that table idea! Great for a rec room! Thanks for sharing these great ways to upcycle so we can reduce our trash creatively.
These ideas are absolutely fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing!
Where are the instructions for these projects
These are not exactly “projects” but rather the “ideas” to use for inspiration. Most of these things can be done by simply rolling and gluing – so they won’t be hard to create once you start!
when i look at this page it says “9 ways…” but there isn’t any more info other than the comments. When I click on the only link for project #1 it loops me back to this first page… i’m new to this blog site, what am i doing wrong? i would like to see all 9 projects and if there is a how-to article that would be cool too… thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Thanks for letting me know about the problem, Joey – I’ve got it fixed. No how-to plans here; just ideas/inspiration for reuse.