Introduction: Waste Paper Baskets From Real Waste Paper

About: Storyteller, Entertainer, Former Librarian...and he owns more than 1,500 neckties.

Other boys grew up shooting baskets.

I grew up weaving baskets.

In the 1990's, I learned a new way of basketmaking that recycled things others would throw away - Waste Paper Baskets! An online database at the library had an article on making baskets from rolled newspaper, and that was all I needed to start on a hobby that helps the environment.

What do you need?

  • Newspaper - Lots of newspaper. A good-sized basket uses about 100 sheets of newspaper.
  • Glue. - I use non-toxic, clear glue sticks, rather than liquid glue. Hot glue doesn't dry flexible enough for the projects
  • Scissors - Used to trim rolls during the finishing process.


  • Spray Acrylic (clear) or Shellac - Used to make a finished product shiny and waterproof.
  • Dowel or Skewer -An alternative method for rolling the paper.

Step 1: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

To start, lay out a sheet of newspaper so that a long edge is toward you. (If you want to use a dowel or skewer, lay it across a corner of the paper at about a 30-degree angle.) Begin rolling. As you roll, the angle will change, and one end of the roll will become fatter than the other end.

About two inches before you reach the opposite corner from where you started, use the glue stick to coat the corner, then finish rolling. You now have a thin roll of paper that is narrower at one end.

Make another roll...and another roll...and another...and another...and another and another and anotherandanotherandanotherand..... Basically, keep rolling paper until you run out of paper to roll.

Some newspapers are better for rolling than others. My local paper used a plant-based ink that is smudge- resistant. With other newspapers, rolling a few sheets covered the hands with black ink, but the plant-based ink left a fraction of the mess.

You do not have to use newspaper. There are other options mentioned in the notes at the end of this Instructable.

Step 2: Setting It Up

I refer to the rolls of newspaper as "reeds," because that's the craft material I used when I started making baskets almost 60 years ago. For a start, I use 8 reeds, divide them into two groups of four, and lay them out as a cross, an X, or a plus (+). They will become the spokes of the basket.

Next, take two more reeds, and slide the narrow end of one a few inches into the wider end of the other, until it fits snugly. This will be the method used to keep from running out of reed, creating a continuous weaving unit. Fold it in half, more or less. One end should be longer, so the joints between reeds will be staggered, not in the same places.

Step 3: Twining Instead of Weaving

If this was a regular, woven basket, you would use one of the spoke-halves as the start of your in-and-out weaving, to give you an odd number of spokes. However the rolled-paper reed isn't as solid as regular reeds, so I recommend a different method: Twining - using two weavers twisted in a spiral.

  • Take the bent weaver and slide it over one section of the X-spokes.
  • Fold the lower section of the weaver up and over the upper half and the next section. Fold the lower part of the weaver across the bottom, then up and over. Follow that pattern of alternate overs until you have gone around the X two times.

When you get near the end of a weaver, add another reed, If the end is a thin end, slide the thick end of the new reed over the ending reed. If the end is wider, insert the thin end of the the new reed into the wider old reed.

Step 4: Dividing the Spokes

Next, the X needs to be turned into an 8-pointed star. Instead of going across four spokes at a time, only go over two spokes before you twist. Continue twining double-spokes until you have completed at least. two rounds. After that, divide the spokes again and twine around single spokes.

Step 5: Going Up

When the base is wide enough for your basket (This demonstration basket was about 12 inches across), it's time to raise your sights and go up (unless you want a flat tray or placemat).

The easiest way to do this is to bend the spokes up. They have now, magically, become stakes. Continue the twisting of the twining stitch, going around and around the basket. At first. I hold the stakes together, to keep them from falling back down. After a round or two, the stakes should stay closer to vertical.

Eventually, you will need to add reeds to the stakes...unless you want a really short basket.

Step 6: How Far Will You Go?

Keep twisting and twining as the basket grows taller and taller.

When should you stop?

When you feel like it.

Step 7: That's Big Enough

When you think the basket is tall enough, weave until there is about a two-or-three-inch remainder or tail on one of the weaver reeds. Tuck the tail into the basket along the side of one of the stakes.

Trim the remainder of the other weaver to about the same length (Be careful. When I was demonstrating how to do this, I cut my little finger with the scissors.), Tuck it in.

Now, you have a basket with a lot of rolls of paper sticking up in the air. It's not finished.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

There are many ways to finish off the top edge of the basket. Here are two:

  1. The Tuck - Trim the stakes to three inches above the rim of the basket. Take the end of one of the stakes, bend it, and stick it down into the space next to the next stake (You might use scissors to help push it). If you have a longer tail of the stake, you can curve it, making a scalloped edge.
  2. The Roll - Weave each stake back and forth around the other stakes, trimming them, if needed, on the inside of the rim.

To make your basket pretty and shiny (and water-resistant), spray it with two or three coats of spray acrylic or shellac.

Step 9: Once You Know How...

The possibilities are pretty close to limitless!

It doesn't have to be Newspaper - Two of the baskets in this picture were made from rolled-up maps! Old road atlases are really good for this. I have also made baskets out of magazines, flyers, and left-over summer reading calendars from the library.

It doesn't have to be Round - To make an oval basket, instead of the X, space out one set of reed-spokes along the other section, alternating them above and below the other section, then begin the twining.

It doesn't have to be a Basket - I have made abstract forms, animals, and once...a five-foot-wide bowl of fruit, including a banana, an orange, an apple, and a bunch of grapes.

This is a relaxing activity, and it can be done while watching TV. It's eco-friendly, , but I don't recommend trying this method for underwater basket weaving (The reeds would fall apart.). I hope you'll give this a try. Post pictures of your projects, and. I hope you enjoyed this Instructable, and I hope you'll vote for. it on the 2020 Recycled Challenge.

Recycled Speed Challenge

First Prize in the
Recycled Speed Challenge