Joanne Luz, of Pennsburg, displays one of her shallow bowls made from recycled magazine and catalogue pages.
The next time you go to toss that junk mail in the trash, think twice.
Not only is the paper recyclable, it can be repurposed into a contemporary work of art in the form of a magazine rack, picture frame, bowl or even a necklace.
Joanne Luz, of Pennsburg, said she stumbled on coiled paper crafting, part of the larger recycled paper crafting world, through Pinterest. On the virtual pinboard-style website, people can bookmark items of interest to share with family, friends and the world.
The mother of two said she has always explored her creative side through knitting, macramé and quilling (another form of paper art dating back to the 13th century), but was intrigued by the possibilities of coiled paper.
“There are so many color schemes. I’ll never look at magazines the same again,” Luz said, laughing.
Each coil starts as a piece of paper from a magazine, catalogue or a calendar. Family members save and contribute some of Luz’s most colorful pieces for her projects.
“I like Tuscan colors, oranges, browns,” she said. “But I love the creativity of the process. That’s my favorite. You never know until you’ve gotten it rolled what it’s going to look like.”
Using a cutting board and cutting wheel, she turns the paper into two-inch strips which are then stacked in threes and folded in half, then in thirds, toward the middle. That compilation is then folded in half again before it’s glued lengthwise.
After drying under the steady pressure of a brick, Luz rakes the long, thin piece with a tool to break the fibers to make the paper more flexible. She then rolls it tightly into a circle or a circle-centered square.
The rolling is the tedious and time-consuming part, but Luz said she doesn’t count the hours it takes to complete a few coils as they are done while watching TV or waiting for appointments.
After each coil is the desired size, the end is cut on an angled and glued. Luz then uses a variety of forms, like a glass bowl, tray, or balloon, to make the desired shape. Once complete, the piece is then glazed with Modge Podge or a similar glue/sealer/finish.
She has done a variety of bowls and shallow dishes and is working on her second egg-shaped piece. After trying her hand at the craft for just shy of a year, Luz said the process is constantly changing.
Her art has been viewed by visitors to the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, in Pennsburg, and has been used to raise money for the youth group at Palm Schwenkfelder Church. She also uses the paper art, along with origami, to give to shut-ins or those in nursing homes. Luz works as a consultant for Philly Cure HD, a non-profit organization assisting those with Huntington’s disease.
While she has no aspirations of making it her full-time profession, coiled paper creations can be found online with prices ranging from $15 to more than $2,200. On Etsy, a handmade and vintage online marketplace, one artisan has used coiled, recycled paper to make everything from beads and belts to full-length dresses.
Luz, does, however, plan to keep experimenting with her craft. Ultimately, she has her eye on a recreation of sorts of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” That painting features swirling elements that Luz thinks could be made three-dimensional with coiled paper.
“It makes you feel creative,” she said, simply, of her work. “And I like that it’s recycling.”