Last May, we said good-bye to our little apartment above the flower shop in Connecticut and said hello to a duplex in Massachusetts. Needless to say, we were short of a few pieces of furniture here and there. To date, we still do not own a sofa so it’s convenient that we also don’t really know anyone, except our next door neighbor, Pete.
For the next five months, I also didn’t have a night table so my reading lamp was on the floor beside me. So were my books and other night time indispensables (iPad and phone!). We also didn’t have storage in the living room so boxes of videos were piled up against the wall along with the wooden crates that hold my husband vinyl collection.
Finally, one weekend, we decided to visit Ikea. I didn’t like the night stands I’d been seeing at Home Goods so I decided maybe Ikea will have something I can customize. That day, we came home with a beautiful, dark blue cabinet with glass panes on the doors. We also came home with a few useful doodads but no night table.
As my husband was assembling the cabinet, I noticed that the parts came in really sturdy, thick sheets of cardboard. They looked like corrugated boards on steroids! I kept saying how it would be a shame to just pack them off along with the other recyclables.
Then it hit me–why not turn them into a night stand?! Papier mache has been around for centuries, I thought. People have made furniture using the technique. I’ve made papier mache bowls in my childhood. I’ve decorated walls and doors with paper and glue (by the way, even if the glue isn’t waterproof, it’s not easy to remove). I’d never made furniture but I figured it’ll be a good project to experiment with and learn from.
So, to my husband’s dismay, I stashed some of the packing boards in my already crowded work room.
We don’t subscribe to any newspaper but every week we do get flyers, store and grocery newsletters and all kinds of junk mail. I started tearing those for my new project.
If you like getting your hands in the thick of things, papier mache is a good project to try. Of course it made getting to the phone tricky but I made sure I had a towel nearby. At one point, I tried using gloves but the ones I had were a bit large so they didn’t work too well.
This was the time I plowed through a couple of audiobooks. I highly recommend Louise Penny’s mysteries. They’re the kind that you don’t want to stop listening to (or reading) and, at least for my part, will elicit a loud guffaw or two.
The project took me about three weeks to finish. I had to plug up some gaps and awkward spots with paper clay. I also wanted to soften the edges of the top a bit so I smoothed paper clay on those as well. Temperatures had also dropped by then and we’d been having quite a bit of rain so I made sure to give the piece enough time to dry.
When I finally had all the layers I needed, I gave it a coat of primer. Then I dug out my stash of odds and ends and got those in. I found a rose I had pressed some time ago as well as a petal from another rose that was given to me. The daisy at the bottom was also from my stash of pressed flowers. Then I cut out a stencil using my Cricut.
Here it is, almost finished! It’ll remain in that almost finished state for a bit, I suspect. One of my Instagram friends said it can be the “happy project” that I can return to whenever I’m in between projects. I told her that was a really fantastic idea.
In the meantime, I really wanted to get my reading lamp at the right height and to give my corner of the bedroom a bit of cheer. As soon as everything was dry, I brought my papier mache creation upstairs and set everything up.
There are magazines and more books on the lower level of my new night stand. The hubby liked the finished product too.
This was a project I truly enjoyed while feeling like I did a teeny bit for the environment as well. In fact, I’ve been thinking about what to do with all the junk mail that comes every week. One can have only so many night stands, right?
That’s something to think about for sure. This website is called Paper With Everything. Maybe it’s high time I did something about all the paper coming my way!