Monday, April 29, 2013

Shooting Stars Streamer: a Toilet Paper Tube Tutorial

The Upcyclers team on, to which I belong as a committed scrap crafter, challenged us to come up with something made of toilet paper tubes. For months I've saved them, but I couldn't settle on a design. There were so many great ideas online!

I had ambitions to create something like this for our Palladian window. I'd make only half of it, as the window is a half-arc.

Then I downgraded the dream somewhat and thought I'd make panels like these for an iron lamp I've had in the garage for years. I might yet do that.

It took a deadline to get me off the fence. (Spoiler alert: I missed the etsy team deadline. I was busy practicing headstands at yoga teacher training this weekend.)

Last month the challenge was to upcycle a necktie. I took a blue and green necktie and handsewed it into a mermaid necklace, which took second place and earned my etsy shop, Swoosh by Scrollwork, a spot on the sidebar of the team's blog for a month. It looks like this.

I didn't have the patience to peel off the
clingy bits of toilet paper.
I started snipping the toilet paper tubes in half, then quarters, then eighths. I didn't count how many tubes I'd snipped. I stopped when my hand got tired. 

Then I glued together four loops at a time. The inspiration pictures above have five and six loops, respectively, but I was being a lazy bum about it. I ended up making 15 "stars".

Turns out four-looped thingamajigs look like a spirograph when stacked. I might make this the starting point of another project.

Prototype for next project resting atop hopelessly inaccurate scale.
The most time-consuming part was painting each piece inside and out. I tried spray paint meant for silk flowers, but the can was so old that the paint slid right off. Confession: I have boxes of ancient craft supplies, including petrified glues for every need I thought I might encounter for the next 20 years. I keep them in the coat closet under the stairs, which my Mom has dubbed "the dungeon."

More paint on the work surface than on the project
Luckily I found bottles of green and blue acrylic paint that weren't transfixed by the sight of Medusa's head, and a slender brush that hadn't had Botox. I had a moment of alarm when Charlie, my 18-pound Maine Coon, hopped on the dining room table and sniffed at the wet pieces. But all was well. Apparently watching paint dry was less interesting than watching grass grow from the safe enclosure of our second-floor deck.

Here's what else I found in the dungeon to use:

  • A roll of blue tulle
  • A roll of shimmery sheer nylon seafoam ribbon, 5/8 inch wide
  • A skein of bumpy yarn in seafoam, chartreuse and yellow
  • The selvage of a sheer white drapery panel that I had ripped into strips for another project last week. It had a nice feathery edge. 94 inches long, approx.
  • The hem of a sheer blue chiffon curtain, which I had also ripped up. 58 inches long, approx.
I cut the tulle, ribbon and yarn slightly longer than the selvage and hem. With short lengths of ribbon, I tied them all together at the center and at four more points about six inches apart.

Using more of the ribbon, I tied the loops of toilet paper tubes in bunches of three. You can see in succeeding pictures how these were done. At opposite ends and in the middle, they're in a vertical row. At the other two points, they're in triangles.

I could see this as a valance, where the shimmery fabric would cast a suncatcher spell.

It would also be lovely strung across a child's four-poster bed.

Quite by accident, I found it also acts like an indoor windsock, creating a cooling visual effect on a warm California afternoon. There's something carefree and casual about it.

Behind the scenes, though, I wasn't the picture of serenity creating it.

Outtake from the photo shoot. Ouch-take. But I'll live.