Introduction: TetraPak Coffee Cup Sleeve

About: I am an interdisciplinary performance artist, maker, skater and dad.

I like to drink my tea in a taller glass rather than the traditional tea cup. The glass has no handle yet is very hot. With the insulation quality of the TetraPak I can protect my fingers and retain heat in the glass. Especially good for winter teas and coffees.

The video is pretty self evident but there are some details that are important. The video starts with a shot of the TetraPaks soaking in grey water. In this case the water is rain water collected over a weeks time that has fallen into a small garbage can. I use this water because to use fresh water from the tap to process TetraPaks diminishes the value of the recycling / reuse process. The only time I use fresh water is to wash the tetrapak once it is completely shaped and dried out. The end of the video shows two different ways to leave the shape of the tetrapak. One is with the corners tucked in and the other with the corners poking out. Not included in the video is addin an insert that sits in the bottom of the holder to stiffen it up and eliminate slight variations in surface from the folded in corners.

Step 1: Pull Out the Corners

Take your standard boxed soup, juice etc. and it is usually a Tetrapak. A tetrapak consists of, from the inside out, a very thin layer of plastic, a thin layer of aluminum, a layer of insulating material, and finally cardboard with printed graphics with another thin layer of plastic over the graphics to strengthed it. The first step is to pull all four of the corner folds out so that the box has ears and feet.

Step 2: Remove Plastic Pour Spout

Step 3: Flatten the Box So That the Corners Fill Out

Step 4: Use a Dull Tool to Push Through the Factory Seam

Use a Dull Tool to Push Through The Factory Seam from the inside by using the opening where the spout used to be. Avoid Ripping. If the seam resist then soak the Tetrapak before pushing through the top. Depending on the manufacturer of the specific Tetrapak you are attempting to transform more or less glue is used and thicknesses of materials including cardboard and aluminum can vary. It is important to explain thatI do not use a blade to cut off the end of the material because the seam around the edge keeps the plastic attached to the other payers. When you cut a TetraPak with a blade you open up all the layers to peel from each other. Retaining the factory seal by pushing between the two sides of the box rather than cutting through all the layers of both sides keeps the seal intact.

Step 5: Once You Have Broken Thru the Seam Create a Small Hole

Step 6: Use Your Finger to Fully Open Up the Top Seam

Or use some other blunt object if your finger is not available or is too sensitive.

Step 7: Soak the TetraPak in Water for a Day or Two

Step 8: Remove From Soaking

Push in Bottom Corners while still wet

Step 9: Grab Pushed in Corners

Pull through Top Opening To reveal Interior Lining

Step 10: Pull Evenly

Continue To Pull the Inside Bottom Through the top opening gently rolling from side to side to prevent ripping at the top edge. It is important that the TetraPak is wet for this process or it will likely rip and is much more difficult to get the material to roll over the bend evenly.

Step 11: Use Seam to Pull Through

The likelihood of folding over The Top Edge so the the TetraPak is completely inside out while preventing ripping is improved by using the strength of the seam for the final inch of the pull through.

Step 12: Tuck the Corners Back In

Now that the Tetrapak is Inside Out tuck the corners back in to recreate the box

Step 13: Double Up the Thickness

Roll The Top edge back Inside the inside-out Tetrapak to basically fold the graphical print face back into itself and create a double layer of insulation to retain the heat in the cup and keep it from escaping onto your hand

Step 14: Inside View

Step 15: Height Is Variable

Acquire different sized TetraPaks for Different Sized Cups. This one pictured is larger than average. The larger the TetraPak The easier the process of turning it inside out.

Step 16: Viola

Pictured here with the option of leaving the corners sticking out like little feet

Step 17: Variation Open Bottom and Top

Creates a Triple layer for the Hands but does not insulate the bottom of the glass from heat loss.

Step 18: A Little More About TetraPak As a Material Worth Upcycling

Where I live TetraPaks are not recycled and go directly into a landfill. Coffeshops tend to use TetraPaks by the dozens on a weekly basis. If you do not happen to buy products that use Tetrapaks I am sure less corporate coffee shops would take on the little extra effort it might require to save a batch form the landfill for your use and experimentation.

Step 19: TetraPaks

TetraPaks can be saved and flattened and used in many other applications including skinning animal structures and treehouses. It is important to note that from my experimentations with exposing the TetraPaks to sunlight that the interior layer of very thin plastic breaks down in the sun and peels. If you attempt to use it and it is being exposed to direct sunlight use the outside layer facing the weather and keep the silver on the interior. It looks amazing! I will post up here more TetraPak projects as I complete them but I hope I have inspired you. This is my first instructable. : )