Are you longing for a notebook that, each time you reach for it, exudes a lovely whiff of chocolate in your direction? OK, maybe a notebook like this isn’t up as high on your “wants” list as, say, an iPad. But it sounds pretty cool, right?
And it can be yours rather quickly: you can make your own notebooks at home using your favorite recycled food labels and boxes like a Clif Bar box, coffee bag, or my favorite, a drug-store chocolate wrapper.
(Note: the scent of a coffee bag is the strongest with the chocolate bar wrapper closely behind; the Clif Bar boxes don’t have a scent.)
This idea comes from the super fun book Eco Books: Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin (and Kenny, who checked the book out of the library). They have tons of ideas in here, including a cassette tape notebook (finally, a use for those old cassettes!) and cereal box organizer system.
But today is all about food notebooks. First find a food label or box that you really like, and just remember the size of your label will influence the size of your notebook. (King size candy bar wrappers, for example, will only be big enough for small notebooks.) This label will be your cover.
Then think about the writing paper you want to use inside. You have a few recycled choices:
- Newspaper painted with gesso: This is my favorite notebook paper idea. Gesso is a primer that artists may use to cover their canvases – you can buy a big jar of it at art supply stores for around $30 – but you can also paint a layer over newspaper to create notebook paper. You’ll be able to see some of the newsprint through the gesso, but I think this is a fun effect. Don’t worry – you’ll still be able to read your writing.
- Paper bags: When cut up, one large paper bag (think shopping bag or Trader Joe bag) should provide enough paper for one notebook.
- Printer/Sketchbook/Notebook paper: If you have old notebooks or sketchbooks with leftover paper, or printer paper that has only been printed on half of the page, you could recycle it in your new notebook.
For my Kit Kat book, I used an old paper bag to create notebook paper.
Now it’s time to assemble! You have your food packaging and paper source, but you’ll also need these materials:
- A pencil
- An old piece of wood
- A hammer
- A nail
- A needle
I’ll walk you through the steps to create a Kit Kat notebook, made with the wrapper from a King Size Kit Kat bar:
- Open: Carefully open your Kit Kat bar along the seam. This is very important – you don’t want to rip your wrapper. Eat a piece of Kit Kat or more and save the rest.
- Fold & Tape: Fold your Kit Kat bar wrapper into a notebook shape. With mine, the Kit Kat image is the front of my book, the ingredient list is the back, and all other flaps are taped down into place.
- Trace and Cut Your Paper: I used a paper bag to create my paper. Lay your Kit Kat cover down on your paper bag and trace it. Then lay your cover down again, right next to the first cover, and trace it a second time. Cut the two tracings out as one long piece. (So when you fold it in half, you have the left and right side of your notebook paper.) Now lay your new piece of paper bag notebook paper on the paper bag, trace, and cut out. Repeat this step until you have enough notebook paper for your book. Trim the paper, as needed, so it doesn’t hang over the edges of your notebook.
- Fold: Now that you have all of your notebook paper, fold the sheets in half and lay them inside of your Kit Kat cover.
- Nail a hole: Now it’s time to stitch your book together. Grab a piece of wood, a hammer, and a nail. Place your book on the wood, and your nail on the bottom part of the seam, close to the edge of the book. Use your hammer to nail a hole through the seam.
- Tie a knot with thread: Take your threaded needle and insert it into the hole. Tie a knot.
- Nail a second hole: Now nail a second hole, about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch distance from the first hole. The threading process starts here.
- Threading through the inside: First, insert your needle and thread through the second hole on the inside of the book. Now your needle is on the Kit Kat label side of the book.
- Thread through the outside: Then, insert the needle into the first hole through the Kit Kat label side. Your needle is on the inside of the book now.
- Thread through the inside: Finally, insert the needle a third time through the second hole. Your first two holes should now be connected with thread. This begins to create your binding.
- Nail holes, then thread all along the seam: You will repeat this process all the way up the seam: nail a hole a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch from the previous hole, and then thread it three times. You will always start threading on the side of the cover that your needle is on, and you will first thread through the new hole, then the previous hole, and finally the new hole. For example, after you nail your third hole, your needle will be on the outside. So thread three times – through the third hole on outside, the second hole on the inside, and third hole on outside – and next time you will start threading on the inside.
- Tie a final knot and you’re done!: One you have nailed holes and threaded along the seam, tie the thread in a knot and cut it. Fold your binded notebook in half along the seam and press down on the crease. Now inhale the lovely smell of your new chocolate notebook!