Introduction: Recycled Cardboard Juggling Balls

Recycling old material is one of the best ways to benefit our society and create patterns that will ultimately lead to a more healthy planet. While recycling and reusing, what would you rather create than something of your own liking and interests? This question was the inspiration for these juggling balls, and I am looking forward to making more crafts with this blend and paste method. These juggling balls turned out very great and the grip on the design makes it very easy to keep the flying spheres in the delicate pattern. I made a video to help guide you through the process and make things easier to understand. Have fun making this project and enjoy!


So for these juggling balls, the materials are very simple and plain. You will need only three materials for the cardboard paste and a further three materials while making the mold for the paste.

1. First, you will need cardboard, paper, milk cartons, or any other paper-based material as long as it is not waxy or has any plastic stickers on it.

2. Second, you will need water and lots of it!

3. Third, you will need a type of binding liquid. I used wood glue because it is very strong but school glue or rice paste will work as well.

4. You will need wood to be able to create the mold. Any type works and I used strong scrap wood but any 2 by 4 or MDF will work as well.

5. You will need wood glue to bond the wood mold. I used the same glue for both the paste and the mold.

6. You will need screws to secure the mold’s frame.

Step 1: Making the Cardboard Pulp

This is the basis of the project yet it doesn’t need to be very precise. You do not need to have measured materials or exact sizes, but you can customize the cardboard pulp to your liking.

1. You will start off by cutting the cardboard into small pieces. A paper shredder works very well but I do not have access to one so I did not use one. Cut the material into finger-sized pieces. The smaller, the better as a rule of thumb but again, it does not need to be exact.

2. You will then need to soak the cardboard in the water for about ten minutes before blending the solution. I put paper on the chips and weighed it down so they would soak better.

3. The pieces of cardboard were put into a blender with the water and even more, water was added for ease of blending. If your blender is weaker, you might want to cut the cardboard into smaller pieces.

4. The water was then lightly taken out by draining.

5. The cardboard was blended up with the water and then the wood glue was added to the pulp and mixed in well.

At this point, the pulp is done and ready to be put into the mold.

Step 2: Making the Brick Mold

The reason that I decided to make the mold a brick is because you can make very many things out of a brick and I wanted to give an example of an easy mold that you can create if you wanted to make something else instead of these juggling balls.

1. You will want to start out cutting two pieces to the desired length and height. Mine were cut about five inches long and about three inches high.

2, Next you want to make the width boards for your mold. You want to make these the same height as the length boards but a bit shorter. Mine was 3 Inches by 3 Inches.

3. The base is made by taking the length and width and cutting a board based off of those two measurements.

4. You will want to then glue and then screw the boards together and secure the bottom half of the mold.

5. For the top half of the mold, you will need to calculate the sliding piece by taking the base plate and subtracting the depth of the boards on each side. Once this is made, test the piece to make sure it has room for water to get out. I had to cut this piece down multiple times to get it to the right size.

6. The last step for the mold is to cut small pieces and screw them to the sliding piece to make a leverage point for the vice to condense the pulp.

Step 3: Pressing the Pulp.

This is a very important part of the process because you need to make sure that the pulp is as condensed as it can possibly be. You need to make sure that the most water as possible can be pulled out.

1. First, you want to press the water out in whatever way you can. I used a mashed potato strainer and that worked very well but any sort of strainer or sorter will work fine. I squeezed all the water out and then put it into the mold. I did this with all of the pulp and got as much water as I could out of the cardboard pulp.

2. I then put as much pulp as I could into the mold and put the mold in a vice so that I could squeeze more pulp in. I pressed the pulp in the mold until lots of water was out and then I put more mold in. I repeated this process until I couldn’t put more pulp in.

3. At this point, I put the mold back I the vice and cranked as hard as I could. I got an extension to the vice handle for more leverage and even then I couldn’t crank harder.

4. I found that after the vice sat for a while, you could press the pulp even more, so every half hour I would recommend tightening the vice clamp.

5. You will need to wait about a day before pulling the mold out to let the pulp dry in the form of the brick.

6. After a day, I took the mold out and look out the screws and disassembled the mold using a drill and hammer.

Step 4: Letting the Brick Dry.

This is the most critical step in the entire process and if you don’t let it dry long enough, then you could ruin your entire project. I let this dry for four days over a heating vent and outside in the sun. Because I knew that I wanted to make these balls, I measured and knew that I could cut the brick into three pieces so I did do after a day of drying just using a chop saw. This made them dry faster and so I could work on shaping them sooner. Again, it is super critical to allow it to dry so that you do not destroy your project trying to form the shape too soon. This step is very easy but requires lots of patience!

Step 5: Shaping the Juggling Balls.

This part is mostly left to you and your creativity. The shape of the balls is not very precise. I made no measurements and had not predetermined shape that I was aiming at making. I simply used a Sawzall to cut the general shape (but any saw or bladed tool would work for that). I then sanded the faces and the edges to make it smoother. I found that the multiple faces paired with random edges made for a great ball for juggling because of the grip that it gave.

This part of the project is the most varied because you can make whatever you want. I made juggling balls but you can make whatever your heart desires! You can use my same design but laser infuse or CNC your initials into the balls and there are so many paint options and color opportunities to apply to this project. I loved the look of the cardboard pulp so left the color as is, but feel free to do whatever!

Step 6: Finish!

If you made this or just took inspiration from this post, I hope you enjoyed looking at and taking the time to view my idea! This was a lot of fun to make and I look forward to adding to my design and seeing the opportunities that lie with recycling cardboard pulp! This is a super environmentally friendly project and a cool way to recycle used cardboard!

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