Little Orange Kitchen with Delicious Paper!

Materials Focus: Paper
Trashion team member Laura of LittleOrangeKitchen gives new life to paper with amazing talent! We asked her a few questions about reuseing paper and here is what she had to say:

What do you make by re-using paper?
I make wallets, business card holders, passport cases and journals out of recycled newspaper, magazines, maps, vintage books, magazines and both vintage as well as contemporary gift wrap.

What do you find the most satisfying about your creations?
I'd have to say the response from other people. When someone admires a wallet at a show and I explain that the back panel is a silverware ad, the inner panel is an ad from a German newspaper and the front panel is from a vintage book etc, it's fun to see their delight and how they take a closer look because they originally thought it was just one random pattern. I enjoy seeing a pretty skirt in a fashion magazine and knowing that the skirt alone would make a great pattern on the front of a card holder and then having people ask me where I got the "gift wrap". I get a huge and unabashed kick out of myself. :)

Where do you typically find the paper you repurpose?

If I'm at your house, you can expect that I'll be digging through your recycle bin looking for anything I can use! No map is safe from me, even if you need it for a road trip, I'm going to lay a claim on it! Same thing with your Italian Vogue.
Friends bring me newspapers and fashion magazines from all over the world and I scour thrift shops and even salons for more. I also get tattered books from the free shelf at the Salvation Army. I'm donate a lot of newer books, so I don't feel so bad occasionally taking a few free ones.

What type of paper products do you use?

While I do make a line of wallets with new gift wrap, I use newspaper, magazines, and books for the line that is 100% recycled paper, And, regardless of the source, every single wallet I make is lined with recycled card stock from holiday cards, manilla folders, heavy mailers and old file folders.

Where did you learn your current techniques?

I began experimenting with origami a few years ago and then my mother gave me a newspaper wallet that was cute, but didn't last. I played with paper for a few months and finally came up with a design I was pleased with and began giving them away to friends. One friend asked if she could take a bunch to her office to sell to her co-workers and I was floored when she sold out. From there, people started asking for other things and the cardholders and passport cases were born.

The hardest thing for me to learn was how to fold a straight line. I used to scream in frustration and even bought some tools designed to help and still couldn't get it. If I'm even 1/20th of an inch off, the wallets don't turn out. Finally, my husband was like, "Get rid of the tools and just eyeball it!" The best advice. I'm intuitive when it comes to making things and thought it would be better to be more precise and organized, so I thought ruled mats would help....nope, now I just take breath and "eyeball it". Good lesson, use your own strengths to help you and don't worry if other people seem more efficient.

Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?

Fabrics inspire me. I can't sew, but I love fabrics, so pictures of fabrics in magazines are the next best thing.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?

My rotary cutter is a lifesaver...a lifesaver, One tip I have for people who work with vinyl or resins in combination with paper (Scrabble tile magnets, belt buckles, resin or glazed jewelry etc...) is to have a lint roller handy. I roll one over my cutting table and the floor around it to ensure there aren't any little flecks of paper, dust or lint around. There's nothing worse than finishing a wallet to discover a tiny paper scrap or yarn fiber from another project trapped underneath the vinyl that I use to add durability to the wallet.

Tell us about a couple favorite items they've made from paper and why they stand out in your mind.

I use old book jackets to make larger wallets and was really pleased with the first one I made. It was from a book on Frida Kahlo and I'm really proud of it.

I'm also proud of this one, pictured at left: It was made of three collaged panels and even though the images came from three different newspapers, the colors went so well together, even the stripes on the backgrounds combined to look like one piece. It sold right away and I miss it!

Any final thoughts you want to share?

I'm in the "hybrid" stage of trashion, I use new vinyl to enhance old paper, and I think it's a good place to start. The wallets are definitely not disposable, but they aren't heirlooms either, so I encourage people to reuse pieces of them once they wear out, or send them to me so I can cut the panels up and make new ones. One woman used hers daily for about eight months and then cut her favorite sections into strips, glued them onto recycled cardboard and made bookmarks, gift tags and a pair of earrings. Right on! The gift that just keeps on giving. :)

Thanks for sharing your creative reuse of paper with us!

Interested in discovering more about Laura and her work? Check out her blog. Want a delightful paper wallet for your very own? Go to her Etsy shop!