Now that the holidays are behind me, I will begin posting the projects that I have been working on!
If you are like me, you have discovered that having a wastepaper basket in every room of the house goes a long way to promoting neatness and organization. However, trying to purchase a number of these in styles and colors that will blend in with their surroundings can be rather pricy. The good news is that they are relatively easy to make and can be made from mostly-free materials!
To form the basic shape of the basket, I used three large cereal boxes of identical size. On one of these boxes, I removed all the top flaps. Then I cut down the center of the shorter side pieces so that when I had completely cut the front and back panels apart from one another, both panels had flaps along the sides and bottom. On the second box, I cut the front and back panels out completely leaving only the bottom flap on each one. Please see the photo if you need clarification of this step.
Now that I had four equal-sized panels, I connected them together with glue and tape. By inserting the two “flap-less” panels in between the two with flaps and gluing the flaps to their backs, I was able to make one long, jointed panel. I reinforced the backs of these seams with tape. I did not join the final seams to form a box yet. I had one step to complete before I could do that.
Because I wanted the inside of my basket to be easy to clean and resistant to water damage, I chose to cover the inside walls with contact paper. I did this while it was in a flat shape because it was so much easier to apply at this stage! I cut a piece that overlapped the top of the boxes by 1/4″ and overlapped the bottom edge onto the flaps by 1/2″. I also allowed for a 1/2″ overlap along the edge of one of the sides. After adhering the paper to the flat cardboard, I joined the final two side edges together to form an open box shape. Making small slits in the contact paper extending up at the corners of the box, I folded the excess paper over to the back side.
With the sides complete, I turned my attention to what would become the bottom of my basket. To make this, I removed the front panel from the final cereal box (without any flaps) and cut a square to fit snugly against the sides and cover the flaps in the bottom of my basket. I covered this square with contact paper and glued it to the remaining flaps.
The basic form of the basket is now complete. The next part is my favorite part – decorating! The methods and materials that could be used to cover the basic basket are beyond the scope of this article, but creativity can have free rein here. Since I was making this basket to be used in our church nursery, I wanted to strengthen it. I did this by taking the slick, colored advertising pages from the Sunday newspaper and rolling them into rods. I began at one corner of the paper and rolled it up around a thin wooden dowel. When I reached the opposite corner, I glued it with a small dot of glue to the rod I had formed and removed the wooden dowel from the center. This was not difficult and I did the work in the odd “corners” of my time. I made about one hundred and sixty of these rods, then I began gluing them together into sheets large enough to cover the sides and bottom of my basket. It would have been easier (I think) to glue them together if I had rolled the sheets up from one long edge to the other instead of at an angle, but the paper spiral was an interesting look.
Because my spiraled paper rods were thicker in the center than at the ends, I had to line the centers of the rod sheets up on the sides of the basket form and cut off the excess at the top and bottom of each sheet. Then, gluing one side at a time and using books on the inside of the basket to add weight until the glue dried, I glued the rod sheets to my basic form. The final step in gluing the rods was to glue rods along the top and bottom edges of the rod sheets, mitering the corners for a more finished look. For some people, the colorful appearance of the magazine rods would have been decoration enough and a coat of sealer would have finished the project. Because I was making it for our nursery and wanted it to match the shelf I had made earlier, I painted the basket the same color as the shelf. The ladybug seen along the top edge of the basket in my photo was added for the amusement of my nursery children.
In Matthew twenty-six we read the story of a woman who came and poured a small box of precious ointment over Christ’s head. I find the response of the disciples to be interesting. “But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?” Though they were in error to believe that this woman’s gesture was wasteful, it is worth noting their reaction to wastefulness in general. We live in an instant gratification, throw-away society. As a Christian called to be a good steward of what God has entrusted into my keeping, I have had to grapple with finding a balance between good stewardship of my time and good stewardship of my possessions. I know it would be impossible (and not always the best use of my time!) for me to try to hold onto and up-cycle every bit of packaging that comes into my house, but I have been challenged in this area of wastefulness. I look at the materials left over from my modern lifestyle, and I wonder, “Can I do something with this that will give glory to my God, meet a need in another’s life, or bring someone comfort or joy?”. I extend this challenge to you. When you look at all the resources that end up in your trash can each week, ask yourself, “To what (other) purpose is this waste?”