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Follow these steps to turn your trash into art

  • NEW YORK TIMES
                                Trash is turned into an artsy junk vessel, perfect for holding dried flowers or pens, or can stand alone as a statement piece on a bookshelf.

    NEW YORK TIMES

    Trash is turned into an artsy junk vessel, perfect for holding dried flowers or pens, or can stand alone as a statement piece on a bookshelf.

One question that you’ve most likely asked yourself thanks to spending so much time at home is, “How do I go through so many containers?” Hollie Velten-Lattrell, who runs a creative design studio in Maplewood, N.J., can’t exactly answer that. But she does have an innovative way to repurpose your empty cans, toilet paper rolls and old newspapers: by making a “junk vessel.”

Velten-Lattrell, her husband, who is an animator, and their two young children have made dozens of these vases from assorted trash that is papier-mached and then colorfully painted.

While these vases shouldn’t be exposed to water, they are perfect for holding dried flowers or pens, or can stand alone as statement pieces on your bookshelves. Follow these steps to turn your trash into your own artsy junk vessel.

Make your vessel’s form

1. To start, you’ll need to comb through your trash and recyclables for the makings of a large, sturdy base — a plastic or cardboard box should do the trick. Tissue boxes, cans and oatmeal or breadcrumb containers are good circular options. You may have to combine multiple items, like two plastic cups.

2. Then, look for a longer, tubular item — like an empty toilet paper or paper towel roll — to mimic the neck of a traditional vase. To attach this to the junk vessel’s base, use generous amounts of masking tape. Painter’s tape and duct tape also work, as would a hot glue gun.

3. To make your vessel’s form more elaborate, add handles, knobs or flaps by cutting out shapes from any leftover cardboard you might have. You can tape or glue these on.

Papier-mache your structure

1. Cut or tear your newspaper into strips; make more strips than you think you’ll need.

2. Make your paste: Velten-Lattrell uses Mod Podge glue and she also recommends wallpaper glue, but most liquid glues should work. Whatever glue you decide to use, start with a ratio of two parts glue to one part water so that it’s viscous.

3. Dip your strips into your glue mixture. Pull the strip between your thumb and forefinger to remove excess globs of paste.

4. Layer the vessel with strips until it is fully covered and let dry completely.

5. Repeat so that your vessel has a minimum of two dried papier-mache layers.

Paint and decorate

1. Using any paint you have around the house, transform your vessel into a colorful decoration. Velten-Lattrell often uses chalk paint and kid-friendly washable tempera.

2. Let the first coat of paint dry completely and assess if it needs a second base coat.

3. Add patterns, stripes, blocks of color — anything your heart desires.

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