Recipe for a Paper Basket

If you’re anything like me, I bet you too have a stack of old newspapers or magazines lying somewhere in the back of some closet, collecting dust and taking up space. Well, breath easy, I’m here to help you clear up that clutter, and do it in an eco-friendly way to boot.

We all know the theory, we’ve read the articles, listened to the lectures, watched the documentaries, but how many of us actually practice waste management in our homes? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Which is a shame really, because so much stuff we throw away without a second thought could be put to better use. The endless stream of paper, cardboard and plastic bags that find their way into our homes can be used to make almost anything, from jewelry to gift bags to all manner of baskets, even slippers and rugs. All it takes is a bit of patience and creativity, and a good tutorial of course.

Taking part in Youcom project I have learned many ways in which you can manage your waste input, and I want to share this knowledge. Who knows who might find it useful. The following “recipe” is for reusing paper, namely old newspapers or magazines, and it’s my favourite thing that I learned during these workshops because it also involves learning to weave baskets, which is something I have always been curious about. By the way, I learned this in one of the most fun workshops I’ve ever attended, so definitely get a bunch of your friends together when you try it out yourself. It will be a blast!

 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Work time: 2 – 3 hours

Ingredients:

  • Old newspapers
  • Metal skewer (a knitting needle is also good, just not one of the thick ones, you want your spokes to be as thin as possible)
  • Scissors or a knife
  • Craft glue
  • Scotch tape
  • Bowl (about the same size you want your basket to be)
  • Paint (we used water based, but you can use other types too)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Colour palette for mixing colours (you can also use a plastic plate, if you don’t have one handy)

 

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary supplies, the first step is to make the spokes. For this you will use the metal skewer, the glue, the scissors and the old newspapers.

Take 2 newspaper sheets, fold them in half length-wise, and cut. Do this again with the resulting strips. Take another 2 newspaper sheets and repeat the entire process a few more times to make sure you have enough for all the spokes you need to make. Don’t worry if you have leftover ones, you can always use them in another project. Trust me, there will be other projects. Once you see how easy it is and how cute the results, you’ll never want to stop.

Now, to make the spokes, take a strip, and holding your skewer at an acute angle, start rolling the strip from the top left corner. Make the spoke as thin and long as you can. This will take some practice, but you will figure it out fast. Once you are satisfied with your spoke, secure the end with some glue, and start another. You will notice they have a slight conical shape. They are supposed to. It will be useful later.

There are many techniques you can use to make the base of your basket, but we’ll discuss those some other time. For this “recipe” I wanted to show you how to make your basket top to bottom, or bottom to top as it were, only using newspaper.

Place 4 spokes vertically on your workspace, then take 2 more spokes and interweave them horizontally under 2 of the vertical spokes. Take another 2 and interweave them over the same 2 vertical spokes.

 

Next take another spoke and bend it at the middle, on the left of a spoke. I will reference to this one as a weaver, since that’s what you do with it, and also for clarity’s sake. As you go about weaving your basket you will find that these weavers run out. Not a problem, just add another spoke at the end. This is where that slightly conical shape comes in handy.

So after bending the weaver at the middle, you will have two weavers on the right side of the spokes. Weave one weaver over the next 2 spokes, and the other under the same 2 spokes, then gather them on the right side. Bring the bottom weaver up over the next 2 spokes and the top one under them. Keep doing this until you have 2 rows. On the third row, fan the spokes out and start weaving around each one individually. Do this until you reach the size you want for your base. Remember to keep each twist going in the same direction and to weave them tightly.

To start weaving the sides take the bowl (remember the bowl? Yeah, I forgot about it too. Had to run to the kitchen). Place the bowl in the center of your base. Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect fit, we’re not in the business of mathematical precision here. Bring up the spokes over the rim of the bowl, and tape them lightly – they should stay in place, but you don’t want them to rip when you remove the tape.

Now continue weaving in the same way until you reach the height you want for your basket. To finish it, weave each spoke under the closest spoke, then over the next one, and bend it inside the basket. Continue until the last two spokes, which you tuck through the loop made by the first spoke. It’s a bit convoluted, but it will make sense when you do it. Then you just have to cut the ends of the spokes and coated the edge with a good layer of craft glue.

 

Your basket is technically ready now, so you can stop here and start painting, or, you can make it even more adorable by adding a handle. To do this you take 2 spokes and insert each one in between two rows of the basket. Do this at least 3 or 4 rows down from the top, and leave a bit of space between them. Bend these spokes at the middle and then do the same with 2 other spokes on the opposite side of the basket. Using the same technique, you weave weavers around the four spokes on each side.

Once you reach your desired height, bend them towards each other. Then take another spoke and starting from the middle, twist it around the ends until you reach the woven part. Twist a bit over that too, unless you want a square-ish shape to your handle, and tuck the ends in one of the loops. Cut the excess and coat them with some craft glue. Now your super cute and eco-friendly basket is almost done.

 

All that’s left to do is paint it. This is where you can really flex your creative muscles. I’ll leave the colour combinations and patterns up to you, and just offer some tips.

I strongly suggest you use water based paint, it’s all-round easier – to come by, to use, to clean. But if you want your basket to be a bit water-resistant you can use oil-based paint. Don’t expect it to be waterproof, do expect it to be stiffer. Also do expect stains to not come out in the wash.

As far as mixing colours go, I usually make my colours lighter by adding some white. I don’t like to use black to make them darker, although you certainly can – use very, very little though, or you will end up with just black. Another way you can darken colors is by adding a bit of the complementary color (blue/orange, red/green, yellow/purple). Make sure to mix a bit of the craft glue with the paint. It will hardener the newspaper a bit, making for a sturdier basket.

After you finished painting, leave the basket to dry for about an hour or two. Water based paint dries quite fast, if you used an oil based one, leave it until the next day to be sure.

And voilá, you’ve made yourself a great basket, spent no money doing it, and have started your own journey towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

 Ina Beleui