writes: “I have a huge stack of wallpaper
samples that I couldn't pass up when they were freecycled to me. So
far, my kids and I have used them to create cards to send to family
members. We are not making nearly enough cards to reduce the supply,
though. I would love to have more suggestions on simple card-making designs or
other ways we can put our wallpaper samples to good use. Hmmm, I
also have the spines of the wallpaper sample books, now that I think
I love this
question because I too have a lovely wallpaper sample book that I
pulled from the dumpster in back of a small home decorating store
near me that had gone out of business. The book includes 24 x 18 inch samples of the paper designs
and as a wonderful bonus, several five or six inch wide border
The characteristic that I love most about
wallpaper is the strength of it. As a paper it is thick but still
flexible. For this reason, it will make really nice, solid paper beads. When using wall
paper I like to start with a slightly wider “bottom” of my triangle.
These are beads that make chunky necklaces, tree ornaments, heavy
charms as bell pulls, and are great for embellishing with wrapped
yarn or wire.
I also like the wallpaper samples for home
décor purposes. For example the sheets make nice photo mats or the
background of shadow boxes. Pieces can be decoupaged on to small
canvases to be hung as a wall collage.
Because it is strong, wallpaper makes nice book
covers, folded and taped to protect hard cover books. Or you can
personalize journals (such as composition books) with wallpaper
covers. If your samples are like mine, there are pages of
coordinating designs or color ways that match nicely. A journal for
each member of the family stacked on a shelf can look very nice.
Suppose you took a couple of strips of the leftover paper and made a
coordinating bookmark for each journal with a colored cord or string
and a bead or two, and maybe even wrapped a pen. I remember taking
plain clear plastic ball point pens and sliding a tube of paper
inside to personalize them when I was young.
Wallpaper makes nice folded paper boxes with or
without lids. There are lots of instructions for these on the
internet, including origami boxes. (Links on
You could make a patchwork of the wallpaper
pieces in the back of bookshelves. This can really elevate a simple
white or plain shelf. Of course seeing the wallpaper on the shelves,
you might find that you have accidentally created a dolls' house!
That is another use for the papers – decorating doll houses or boxes
that will work as doll house rooms. I sometimes use backdrops made from wallpaper for my art doll
But my favorite use for wallpaper samples,
taking advantage of the strength and thickness, is Art Trading
Cards. These are miniature works of art, 2.5 x 3.5 inches exactly.
The idea behind them is that they cannot be sold, only given or
traded. On the back you should put the artist's name, and the name
of the card, number if it is part of a series and possibly a contact
(eg e-mail addy or website). People who are serious about ATC's will
even have a stamp made for the back to make it quicker.
Wallpaper stands up to decoupage and paint
treatments. I like using photocopies and ephemera, as well as small
3D elements. They can almost be miniature scrapbook pages. They're
also great for trying out new techniques or color combinations. I
have made a series that include yarn stitched to them.
So on to the binding holding the wallpapers.
Mine is a two large, sturdy covers attached to a spine, which has a
nice rope handle. I don't know if that is the same as your one, Ina. A couple of good sized bulldog clips and an attached zippered
bag as a pencil case, I think it will make a very nice portable
drawing board. It's large but not so large as to be unwieldy.
After a long career designing for theater and independent films,
Robyn Coburn finds her joy as an unschooling mother who also writes and crafts.
She has been a confirmed greenie since working for Greenpeace during her college
years in Australia. Robyn is currently working on two crafty books, a fairy tale
screenplay and a TV series about doll making and collecting. A past speaker and
funshop presenter at Live and Learn Unschooling conferences, she contributes
regularly to unschooling e-lists. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her
husband James and ever inspiring daughter Jayn. Contact Robyn by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her at