Back to Basics: Crafting with Magazine Pages

Before there was Pinterest (and even now), I was a hoarder of images.  Given my professed love for magazines – not the digital kind, but the kind you pick up from a local newsstand – I have amassed quite a collection of images over the years.  I have done massive purges periodically, but my love for hard copy images has never waned.  I have a drawer full of images, plus others tucked away between the pages of books and magazines.

With all the magazines I buy and catalogs I get in the mail, I have made mailing envelopes out of the pages and even a greeting card and decorative wood blocks from some of the images.

Mailing envelopes made from magazine paper

Mailing envelopes made from magazine paper

Card made from magazine image

Card made from magazine image

Wood blocks decorated with images from catalogs

Wood blocks decorated with images from catalogs

They were fun to make – anything that involves cutting with scissors and gluing is my idea of crafty fun – but I had so many magazine pictures, that I wanted to find a way to get them out of storage and displayed.  I was mulling this over when I remembered a childhood craft activity I had done in fourth grade.

Then like now, given the limited budgets that schools had, teachers were always looking for ways to keep students engaged on the cheap.  Mr Thompson, my fourth grade teacher was no different.  He gave my class a bunch of old magazines and some large sheets of paper and introduced us to the art of collage. He told us to pick a theme and cut images from the magazines that represented our theme and paste them onto our sheets of paper.  Now crafting for me at that age was something I had to get through, so I did not find the whole collage process especially fun and just picked a boring, bland, generic theme – people.  Not any specific types of people – entertainers, people at their jobs, cute babies, or kids, etc – but people.  I figured it wouldn’t be hard to find images with people in them.

Well now that I am a diehard crafter in my old age ;), I looked with renewed interest on that craft session from my childhood.  I debated over whether to do a bunch of collages on large sheets of paper, but thought that might be cumbersome to store, given the size.  I thought about collaging on regular, 8 x 11 paper, but given that a lot of my images are good-sized, I figured I wouldn’t be able to get a whole lot of images down on one sheet to make an impact.  Then I remembered a children’s book I had read in college, the Noonday Friends, in which two girl friends keep themselves entertained by making scrapbooks of their favorite images.

Before there was the hobby of scrapbooking that we know today, with its myriad embellishments, tools, and doodads, there was the basic, simple hobby of scrapbooking.  It really came into vogue during Victorian times, when proper ladies would spend their free time cutting out pretty images and sticking them inside albums.  Manufacturers soon started making and selling beautiful, colorful images of people, animals, and flowers just for this purpose.  In fact, these images came to be known as scrap, or Victorian scrap, as we refer to them now, and that’s probably how the term, “scrapbooking,” came to be.

Anyway, I decided to put my collection of images into a large, hardbound, 11 x 14 artist’s sketch book.

Hardbound artist's sketch book

Cutting and gluing down the images into my scrapbook brought back some childhood memories for me and made me feel like a kid again.  One of my strongest childhood memories of being in school involved using paste to glue bits of paper together.  The paste was non-toxic and came in large jars that the teachers would scoop out into smaller containers that they would place at each desk.  We would be given brushes to use to apply the paste to whatever we wanted to glue down.   I don’t even know if this paste is still being sold and used.  The closest thing we have to it today is glue stick glue, and that’s what I used for my scrapbook.

I divided my images up into six different categories – jewelry, fashion/style, for the home, kid’s stuff, desserts/sweets, and food – that I tend to collect in.

Collage of jewelry images

Collage of jewelry images

Collage of fashion images

Collage of fashion images

Collage of images of items for the home

Collage of images of items for the home

Collage of images of stuff for kids

Collage of images of stuff for kids

Collage of dessert images

Collage of dessert images

Collage of food images

Collage of food images

Initially I glued down the images at random, but by the time I got to my favorites, my food pictures, I decided to take more care in how I arranged my images.  I had this Tollhouse ad of a little boy eagerly breaking into a chocolate chip cookie that I hadn’t planned on using, but I loved the image so much that I decided to somehow incorporate it in with some of my dessert pictures to perhaps tell a story, and this is what I ended up with:

"Lucky Boy"

“Lucky Boy”

I named this collage, Lucky Boy, and it’s my favorite.

As I was putting together my collages, I realized what made certain collages stand out, at least in my eyes – using different sized images, gluing them down so that there was at least some overlap, and minimizing the amount of white space.  This may not be exactly earth-shattering, but for someone who never thought she could make a decent collage, this was revelatory to me.  It’s funny how we learn as we go along and when those aha moments appear.

I ended up using a little less than fifty percent of the pages in my scrapbook, and with my neverending collecting of images, I will continue to work on my scrapbook until it’s all filled up.  After working on so many complicated art/craft projects over the past few years, I really enjoyed the simplicity of this one – just cutting and gluing to my heart’s content.  Plus, I love how I was able to have so much fun on the cheap.  Who knew a childhood creative activity borne of a limited budget would lead to one of my most fun craft projects ever?

Have you ever crafted with magazine paper?  What are some of your favorite cheap craft projects to do? Please share in the comments.

About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose - to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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4 Responses to Back to Basics: Crafting with Magazine Pages

  1. Cynthia January 18, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Wow! Those things look good enough to eat! Yum!

    • Serena January 19, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      Thanks! Glad you liked them :0)

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