Waste Not: Another DIY Project

Having hauled yet another disposable plastic cheese plate home from last night's art opening, due to the shady value of "6" showing in its triangular stamp (which, in Rhode Island, destines it for the landfill), I felt that it was high time for another creative up-cycling post.

I'm a fan of minimizing packaging and paperwork on both my incoming purchases and outgoing packages wherever possible. On occasion, however, a little excess sneaks through, so I like to challenge myself to reuse these unwanted materials in creative ways.

Upcycled Gift Box: DIY by meredith cutler, studio debris

Here's a sweet little gift package of locally-made goodies that I put together for my friend Sara's birthday gift earlier this month. A sturdy, low-profile box originally used to ship me health and beauty products breathes new life as a re-usable gift box.

<<How did I do it? Click here to find out!>>

Loco for Ponoco

It's a lazy, post-storm Sunday here in Providence, and the tugboats are heading back out to the Narraganssett Bay now that the coast is clear. After being cooped up in the house yesterday while windswept rain played the bongos on my roof, I took a bit of a walkabout in hopes of ressurecting my laughable excuse for a tan. Perhaps I should have brought this concept "Sun Tan Stencils" design from U.K./Ireland-based Observatory with me? (I always did covet an anchor-shaped sunburn).

"Suntan Stencils" concept from Observatory on

All the better segway for me to mention my newfound playground on the web:! Ponoko is an all-in-one, laser-cut prototyping/production service where designers can realize their vector-based designs in a variety of popular materials, from MDF to acrylic. In addition, designers can choose to sell their creations directly on the Ponoko website (ala Etsy); or, publish their vector plans for customized production by other Ponoko users; either for a fee or for free. The possibilities for designer collaboration are wide open, making Ponoko a unique online variation on the traditional atelier; and, bringing our drawing-board dreams that much closer to reality and the marketplace!

DIY: Upcycled Book Jacket Flower Bows

I have always had a love for paper that goes beyond the expected excitement of a blank, white sheet ready for the artist’s first mark. As a small child, I spent hours poring over the decorator’s hefty wallpaper sample books, left over from our 1977 home renovations: the mirrored backgrounds…the bold florals or geometric patterns rendered in one exciting colorway after another. In my early days, these enormous, psychedelic volumes rivaled even Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle for my affections.

Many years later, I helped fund my way through art school by working in the cataloging department of my college library. My love for found papers, combined with my passion for words inspired me to stash away hundreds of colorful book jackets, typically discarded during the cataloging process. Fast-forward another decade or so, and here I am in my studio, surrounded by several Tupperware storage bins full of vintage paper ephemera that desperately needs purging!

Unlike my vintage giftwrap and wallpaper collections, these heavyweight, coated book jackets don’t offer enough regular patterning or figuration to make them appropriate for the mixed-media art collages that I often create. They are text heavy, and extremely varied in coloration. With some creative experimentation, and using some tools I had available, I created this unique DIY project for my sturdy and colorful paper source. Click here for my full, illustrated tutorial:

DIY: Upcycled Book Jacket Flower Bows - handmade by Meredith Cutler for crostini*VS


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