Easy Paper Craft Ideas

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Going a day without paper in one form or another is hard to imagine. As the stuff of books, magazines, notebooks, packaging and lots of other essential everyday items, it turns up just about everywhere. This versatile, relatively inexpensive material is also just right for lots of fun, useful and attractive craft projects.

Origami Crafts

One of the oldest paper crafts around is origami, which began in China during the first or second century and then spread over to Japan during the sixth century, developing over time into a true art form. The name origami is Japanese for "folding paper."

Here's an easy beginner project to help you get a feel for origami:

Origami Drinking Cup

  1. Start with a square of origami paper. Hold it white side up, and fold it in half, corner to corner so that it forms a triangle (colored side out).
  2. Fold this folded triangle to form an asymmetrical triangle by bringing its top corner down to the baseline. Press in the crease and unfold again. (You'll have a diagonal crease that divides your bottom left corner in half and ends about midway between your top and right corners.)
  3. Fold the bottom left corner of your triangle just up to the crease line you created so that the left corner comes across to meet the end of your crease line. (This will look almost like a kimonoed arm folding in.)
  4. Fold the bottom right corner all the way up and around to the left side. (Imagine the other arm folding over the first one.)
  5. Above what looks like folded in arms is a triangular area consisting of two flaps (where the head would be if this were a figure.) Fold the top front flap down toward you.
  6. Fold the back flap down and away from you as you open out your cup. Feel free to have a drink. It should actually hold water!

Paper Mache for Grown Ups

Paper mache isn't just for kids! Follow these instructions to create a unique, decorative bowl. You'll need:

  • Thin newspaper strips
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Bowl for dipping
  • Polyurethane
  • Vaseline
  • Paint
  • Gesso
  • Glue
  • Colorful print-design scrapbooking paper
  • Scissors
  • Bowl to use as a mold.

To make the bowl:

  1. Coat the outside of your mold bowl with Vaseline.
  2. Dip newspaper strips into wallpaper paste and layer the outside of your mold bowl with them. Let paper dry and then apply an additional three to four layers.
  3. When paper mache bowl is dry, separate it from the mold bowl.
  4. Prepare interior and exterior surfaces with gesso and then paint the bowl whatever color you'd like. Let the paint dry.
  5. Cut out shapes from the scrapbooking paper print design and glue them to the interior surface of the bowl.
  6. After the glue dries, spray inside bowl with polyurethane.
  7. When the inside of the bowl dries, turn it over and spray the outside with polyurethane.

Hanging Paper Crafts

Paper's lightness makes it an excellent medium for hanging crafts. Here are a few ideas you might enjoy:

  • Paper marionette: Cut out head, body and limbs of figure. Punch holes and connect extremities to body with paper fasteners. Use string to connect the ends of limbs to wooden dowels and enjoy your puppet.
  • Garlands: Cut out colorful paper people, shapes or flowers to create breezy paper garlands.
  • Paper bag piñata: For a young child's party, decorate a paper bag with googly eyes, paint, markers or paper cutouts. Fill with candy, fasten shut and hang with string. Let kids break it open with a plastic or foam soft bat.

Useful Paper Crafts

Use your crafting skills to make fun and functional paper items with these interesting projects:

  • Envelopes: Fold and glue your own envelopes from your favorite pretty paper or plain paper with your original artwork.
  • Decorative tape: Transform rolls of double sided mounting adhesive and pretty wrapping paper into decorative tape. Attach strips of gift-wrap to mounting adhesive and carefully cut out tape. Wind around a wooden spool, sticky side in.
  • Book "vases": Create a cardboard template in the shape of half a vase. Open a book you no longer need, lay the template against the binding (flat side in) and cut along the template through all the pages of the book with a sharp knife. Remove the book's cover and fold it backwards until the front and back pages meet. Glue them together for a unique vase-shaped decoration.
  • Decoupage boxes: Cover boxes with paper decoupage designs to create decorative or themed boxes. You might want to try a wish, souvenir or trouble-releasing box.
  • Framed name or quote: Stencil the letters of a name or your favorite quote onto poster board. Cut out letters, back with decorative paper, matt and frame.

Natural Inspirations

The beauty of nature inspires these craft projects that almost bring paper to life:

  • Tissue paper flowers: For each flower, stack seven squares of tissue paper and fold the stack into an accordion. Cut off the corners of the accordion to softly round them and twist a wire or pipe cleaner "stem" around the center. Fan out the paper and pull each layer up one at a time to form a flower shape.
  • Paper topiary tree: Glue crunched up bits of tissue paper to a Styrofoam ball. For a nice affect, use a few different shades of green paper. Insert a thick twig or wooden dowel in your treetop and then stick the other end in a foam base. Place the foam base in a terra cotta pot and cover with more crunched up bits of tissue paper to form "grass" or "soil."

Paper crafts offer something for everyone, whether you're a complete beginner or a crafter with years of experience. When you bring your energy and creativity to paper, the possibilities are unlimited.

Last Updated: July 29, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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