Monday, February 24, 2014

DIY Paper Bag Stationery

I found myself in a conundrum recently: I had to send a letter but had run out of stationery. I had cards, and postcards, but I wanted a simple sheet of paper to jot a note down. Since we’re on a small grad student/writer budget, I wasn’t going to go out and buy stationery, but I still wanted some.

A few nights ago, a solution presented itself. I made the forty-five minute trek to Trader Joe’s, one of my favorite Connecticut road trips. I found all sorts of exciting things, like bacon cheddar cheese and frozen chocolate croissants! I’m still petitioning Trader Joe’s to place a store by the university. Anyway, instead of driving the food home right away, I wrote in a coffee shop for the rest of the afternoon while Aaron played in a wargaming tournament. I had frozen fruit, frozen hashbrowns, and other cold items in brown paper bags, and they defrosted and soaked through the bottom of the bags. We had quite the time carrying all the groceries down our icy stairs that evening when we arrived home (not the most fun I’ve ever had). Usually we reuse the bags as trash bags, but it was obvious that these damp bags were destined for nothing greater than the recycling bin.

Then I realized that I could cut off the damp portions and use the rest to create the stationery I’d been craving! Hobbes thought this was a great idea as well, and enjoyed playing with the bag handles and other scraps of paper as I began to cut up the dilapidated bags.

She's pretty stinkin' cute.
I sliced off the large sides of each bag, and then cut those sides in half or in fourths, depending on how wet they were. I trimmed off seams and creases to make flat pieces of stationery. 

I used some stickers to decorate a few of the pieces, and drew designs on the others. I used a fine Sharpie pen and a fine point Sharpie marker to create the designs, which were inspired by henna designs. I love henna, and one of the first things I did when I ended my job in Santa Barbara, right before our move, was to use a henna kit my sister had given me for my birthday. I copied a few designs from henna tattoos I liked on Pinterest, and once I felt comfortable with the style of henna, I doodled a few of my own. When it came time to actually draw the henna on my body, I had a blast free handing designs on my feet (as well as a sweet sun around my belly button).

I replicated this same process for the stationary designs. I focused on lines and dots, rather than flowers or other larger henna designs. Often lovely line designs are found along the instep of the foot. I also sketched a few of my own designs. 

I left several of the pages blank, so that I can add new designs as I am inspired. Perhaps one of the pages would benefit from a sweet sun. I’m sure none of you find that funny, but I am giggling over here. Oh, the sweet sun!

Our limiting budget is frustrating sometimes, such as when the car needs a new alternator and emergency brakes in the same week, yet other times it can lead to great creativity. I enjoyed the process of transforming trash into useful and pretty writing sheets.

Kitten approved.

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