Home Purse Try papermaking by making this simple handbag from recycled paper

Try papermaking by making this simple handbag from recycled paper


Editor’s note: After having read the creations Ruthanne Moore fashioned in Willamette View art studio, we wanted to know more about papermaking. We asked art therapists who work with Moore for a guide to doing a simple project. Kristen Larsen graciously accepted our challenge. It turns out that accessories, like this simple paper purse, are a good place to start. Here are the instructions.

By Kristen Larsen, art therapist at Willamette View

Making paper with recycled materials has to start with a question, says Ruthanne Moore.

What do you want the play to say when presented to the public? What do you want it to look like and where does the part go?

In addition to paper dresses, Ruthanne often makes accessories to accompany his larger works. To make a recycled paper handbag like the one in the photo above, follow these somewhat intuitive instructions.


  • Cereal boxes
  • Recycled papers (magazines, newspapers, cards, greeting cards)
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue formulated for paper
  • Brush
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Velcro
  • Scissors


To create the body of the handbag, strong but flexible cardboard (also known as chipboard) often works best. Recycled cereal boxes are an easy place to find chipboard.

Ruthanne creates her own designs and starts from the bottom first. The handbag pictured here has an oval or eye-shaped shape for the base. You can easily find one online http://getdrawings.com/get-vector#eye-shape-vector-7.gif and size it according to the size you want the handbag to be.

Once you have your basic shape, trace it onto your chipboard and cut it out. Next, measure the length of the base shape (11 inches in the example) and cut two rectangles from chipboard to fit the length. You can then choose your own height for the purse (eg, 7 inches high) and cut your chipboard accordingly. Also consider making a chipboard flap to close the purse, since the shape will attach to the back and front of the coin to close the purse. Like Ruthanne, you can create your own unique pattern that matches the look of the handbag you want to create.

Once you have your three particleboard shapes, trace them onto a recycled paper that you want to use for the exterior and / or interior decoration of your purse. (Old calendars, postcards, newspapers, magazines, or cards work well.) To find unique recycled papers and other matching materials, you can visit SCRAP in downtown Portland to find inspiration and unique options for adorn your creation. https://portland.scrapcreativereuse.org/

In addition to using recycled materials, Ruthanne often adds style to recycled papers by creating additional textures and interest with different folding techniques such as accordion folds, pleating or paper frills to add design. These are traditionally used for fabric and many different types of tutorials can be found online that you can adapt to your project.

Once you have cut out your paper shapes, you may decide to cover part of the area with a base layer of paper, especially on the bottom or inside of the purse using a PVA glue specially formulated for paper. These areas will be difficult to add or modify once the part is built.

Begin assembling the handbag shape by gently manipulating and flexing the sides of the chipboard to fit the shape of the base, using hot glue at the base to hold the pieces in place, gluing small sections at a time. To make sure the piece fits securely, you can use duct tape to secure the sides and base together in addition to hot glue.

Once your form is secured together, use your cutout paper shapes or paper folds and start covering the outside of the purse by spreading PVA glue on the cardboard or using hot glue (preferred method). de Ruthanne).

Once the bag is covered, you can add interest by attaching buttons, jewelry or beads to give your room a final decorative touch. To keep the bag closed, stick velcro on the flap. For a strap, Ruthanne recommends folding longer strips of paper tightly and gluing the pleats together, maintaining some flexibility, while still strengthening the strap. Glue the strap in place and you are now ready to go into town with your new purse. Keep in mind that it’s not waterproof, so it’s perfect for Oregon’s upcoming summer season!

Take a look at some online tutorials for inspiration and step-by-step instructions on how to make a paper handbag.

– Kristen Larsen is an art therapist at Willamette View in Milwaukie.

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