Paper Transformation

Part of my weekend ritual involves removing the myriad of leaflets, flyers and other promotional stuff that keep getting stuffed into our newspaper. By the time I’m finished I’ll have half filled the litter bin. Fortunately our local council has a weekly collection so the rubbish gets recycled rather than being dumped in a landfill site. Now if I was Barbara Baumann I wouldn’t discard all this paper but would turn it into something more decorative – like bracelets and necklaces.

In the forward to Paper Jewellery: 55 Projects for Reusing Paper  Baumann makes the valid point that every day we discard scores of pieces of paper of all kinds which with a little bit of creativity and effort could be given a new life. She sets out to demonstrate this with instructions for a range of projects using everything from beer mats and kitchen paper to candy wrappings and maps.

On a normal day you might see more than 50 different types of paper and cardboard. All of these have the potential to be turned into something more beautiful than manufactured objects, particularly for people who value individuality.

I was hoping this book would show me how to make necklaces like one I bought from a craft market in South Africa a few years ago which was constructed from large safety pins and beads made from paper. Or would be as imaginative a use of waste paper as the women of the T Bag company, a collective just outside Cape Town which removes the leaves from T Bags and then decorates the paper envelopes, using them to adorn greetings cards, coasters and bags.  If you don’t believe how beautiful thee can be, just take a look at their website:

There were a few designs that looked attractive providing I had the patience and time to spend making tiny beads and then stringing them. I liked the idea also of revitalising pages from old books into swirls which could then form a bracelet or making drop earrings from which mini books dangle.  But I drew the line at many of the projects – a bangle made by creating a hole in the middle of a beer mat just looked ludicrous – and some didn’t seem very durable. They would also require meticulous attention to detail in many cases – some people might have the ability to cut up old maps into small squares and then fold them several times so they end up all the same size, but I certainly don’t.

The photography was extremely well done but the instructions were fairly skimpy often. I can imagine embarking on a project only to find myself scratching my head in bewilderment half way through because there are no sketches to show how to fold or roll the paper.  In short, the idea is good but the practicality of this book is questionable except for people with oodles of time on their hands.
End notes

Paper Jewellery: 55 Projects for Reusing Paper is published by Schiffer Publishing, PA. Translated from German and originally published by Hauptmann Berne in 2013. My copy was provided via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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