Boxes covered with old book pages

This is such a FUN look.  And very easy to create.  You can cover just about ANYTHING; big or small, including FURNITURE!

All you need is some LIQUID STARCH; I’m using Sta-flo, as shown here.  There is another brand called Vano that works just the same.  Depending on where you are in the world, there may be different brand names; but good old-fashioned liquid laundry starch is pretty much all the same.  Don’t worry about the pale blue color of the starch, it dries clear.

I covered these garage sale paper mache canisters.

FIRST you’ll need to tear out your book pages and tear them up into smaller pieces.  I do this while I’m watching TV, and I just keep a stash of torn pages on hand all the time so that when inspiration strikes, I can ‘get right to it’ and not have to sit and tear pages until my fingers ache!

For things like these lids, you’ll need really small pieces.  To use the starch, SHAKE the bottle well.  Pour about an inch into a shallow pan of some sort.  Keep a damp towel nearby to wipe your hands off with.  Then just dip your strip of paper in the starch being sure it is fully covered.  Squeeze off the excess starch and slap in onto your object.

If you are covering something with LIDS, like I have here, be sure there is enough ROOM for that extra layer of paper on the rim.  On this set, only the largest box had extra room.  The other two I had to leave the space for the lid unpapered so the lid would still fit.  Slightly overlap your pages as you go.

Let dry overnight.  Sometimes during the drying process some of the edges will curl up.  This is easily remedied by applying a drop of starch and rubbing it back down into place.

Since I wasn’t able to apply paper all the way to the top of all my canisters, I covered that space with some black paint, using a sponge painting method.

I also sponge painted the edges of my lids.


I use the sponge painting method quite frequently.  It’s fast and easy and doesn’t require any fancy expensive tools.  You need PAINT,  a little piece of a regular ole household sponge and a ‘palette’ for your paint.

VERY LIGHTLY dampen 1/4″ end of your sponge.  I put a teensy bit of water on a plate and tap my sponge into it for ONE SECOND.  You can see in the above photo how much of the sponge has taken on water.  Wring it out in a towel to remove as much excess water as possible.  You want it to be ‘soft and pliable’, NOT wet.

Here’s my fancy paint palette!

Add a small amount of paint; I’ve used black.

‘Load’ the softened end of your sponge with the paint by gently tapping it in the paint to coat evenly.

MOST IMPORTANT STEP!  Dab your sponge on a dry area of your palette to work off some of the paint so that there isn’t any ‘visible WET paint’ on the surface.  Do a couple of ‘test dabs’ on a piece of newspaper and see how it looks.  You should be getting about 50% coverage each time you dab.

It’s kind of an ‘airy’ splotchy look you are going for; not FULL coverage.  If you are unsure, go LIGHTER!  You can always go back and add more; but you CAN’T remove excess!

I decided to add some scrapbook embellishments to mine.  But I see a lot fo them just left ‘as is’ with the book pages.  You can paint or stamp on top of the paper . . . whatever you want!

If you are papering furniture and want a more wear resistant finish, you can apply any kind of varnish on top of the paper once it’s fully dry.  BUT, if you leave it UNvanrished and change your mind later on, you can remove the starched paper by simply WETTING it and peeling it off! 

  I’ve covered several lamp shades using the method.  Sheet music is fun to use too!  What do YOU want to cover with book pages?

Outdated/updated wall sconce

I forgot to take a ‘before’ picture (sorry!); but I think you can easily visualize what this looked like before I updated it.

It was just a bit bland; all stone white color.  I simply ‘sponge painted’ on some of Sophie’s favorite shade of blue.  Which brought out the details a bit and just ‘livened it up’ a bit.

Here’s my fancy painting sponge and palette:

Yes, it IS just an old piece of cardboard and a strip of household sponge!  Why spend money on something fancy when this works just fine?!?! 

To use the sponge, quickly and VERY BRIEFLY dip one end into about 1/2″ of water.  You don’t want to get the whole thing wet because you want the part you hold onto to stay stiff.  After dipping the end in water, squeeze out as much water as possible.  You want it to be SOFT and pliable, but not wet.  I even take mine and wring it a bit more wrapped in a towel. 

Then squirt a small blob of paint onto your cardboard.  Lightly dip the softened end of your sponge.  Then pounce your sponge in a dry area on your cardboard, to work the paint into the sponge a bit for a more even look.  Then it’s onto whatever it is you are painting. 

GO LIGHTLY!  You can always go over an area again if you want more paint, but too much paint can’t be removed.  Just lightly pounce your sponge all about the area you want painted until you run out of paint.  Then load your sponge again.

I have been using that very same piece of cardboard for YEARS!  it’s almost a life history keepsake!

And while I had my sponge loaded with paint and ready to go, I looked around to see if there was anything else that needed painting.

Ah-HA!  These little tin boxes have some lovely detail work on them that hardly shows up.  Let’s see if a bit of sponge painting will liven them up a bit.

Just enough to bring out the pretty detail work!  (the bottom two have been painted; the top one is how they came)

I’ve been using that other piece of cardboard to paint on (to protect the counter at the store) for quite some time too!  It comes in handy because if I have to move what I am working on to help a customer, I can just pick up and move it on the piece of cardboard.

Someday when I am dead and famous, these pieces of cardboard could sell for millions!  hehe