Fun a Day Pittsburgh: 31 Days of Upcycled Newspapers | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Fun a Day Pittsburgh: 31 Days of Upcycled Newspapers

click to enlarge Pittsburgh City Paper's kickoff Fun A Day Pgh project: Upcycled newspaper flowers - CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham
Pittsburgh City Paper's kickoff Fun A Day Pgh project: Upcycled newspaper flowers
If one of your resolutions is to become more creative this year, join Pittsburgh City Paper in kicking off 2020 by making something new every day this month.

We've signed up for Fun A Day Pittsburgh where participants spend every day in January working on a project for the month — some make something new for 31 days, others pick one big project and work on it a little each day. At the end of the month, everyone is invited to show off their finished projects in a group art show.

As a staff, we'll be working on fun things to do with our newspaper pages after you've finished reading the weekly issues. More than 70 participants have signed up so far — projects range from embroidery to recording a song every day and from baking to photography — and there's still time for you to sign up.



Follow along as we update this page every day this month with ideas that we hope will inspire you to recycle, upcycle, and start the new year off by having a little fun.


click to enlarge Upcycled newspaper flowers - CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham
Upcycled newspaper flowers

Day one: Jan. 1, 2020
Upcycled Newspaper Flowers

Got a picture frame that could use a little sprucing up? For today's project, we turned to HGTV to learn how to make rolled paper flowers. Their site includes step-by-step instructions with photos. All you need is a copy of Pittsburgh City Paper, scissors, and glue.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day two: Jan. 2, 2020
Newspaper Butterflies

These easy-to-make paper butterflies came from Red Ted Art, which features "cute and easy crafts for kids." We recommend choosing colorful pages — look for full page photos or colorful advertisements — to make the butterflies really pop.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day three: Jan. 3, 2020
Ransom Notes

No, we're not encouraging you to kidnap anyone. We're just suggesting you skip always automatically purchasing a Hallmark card this year in favor of creating some handcrafted notes. Cutting out letters ransom-note style is an easy way to liven up a homemade card for your BFF or to create a positive affirmation to hang up by your desk.


click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day four: Jan. 4, 2020
Newspaper Envelopes

Your personal letters don't have to be the only thing you liven up this year. Making an envelope out of a newspaper is really easy: 1. Unfold a boring old white envelope and use it as a template. 2. Tear out a page from Pittsburgh City Paper and use a pen to outline the shape of the envelope template on the backside of the page you want to display, then cut out the shape from the newspaper. 3. Make a second template and trim a half inch from the outside, trace that shape on a piece of colored paper, then cut out the shape. 4. Glue the cut-out colored paper onto the newspaper you've cut out in step no. 2 for extra support and a colorful liner. 5. Fold in the envelope shape and glue or tape the sides to the bottom flap. 6. Insert a handwritten note and hand to a friend.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: BRYER BLUMENSCHEIN
CP photo: Bryer Blumenschein

Day five: Jan. 5, 2020
Newspaper Coasters

How cute are these?! To make these coasters, tear out a full newspaper page, fold it into a flat tube, then twist into a circle. (For extra stability, you can use a small amount of glue on the paper while curling the tube into a circle.) Once you have a coil, seal with Mod Podge (every crafter's dream product!) and let dry. You can either let the newspaper print show, or further personalize the design by painting the coasters once they've dried.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JOSIE NORTON
CP photo: Josie Norton

Day six: Jan. 6, 2020
Decoupage Sunglasses

The future's so bright, we gotta wear newspaper shades. For today's project, we livened up an old pair of sunglasses with newspaper and Mod Podge. (We weren't lying when we told you yesterday it was every crafter's dream product. It's sure to make repeated appearances throughout this month.)

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: KEVIN SHEPHERD
CP photo: Kevin Shepherd

Day seven: Jan. 7, 2020
Newspaper Nails

Want a quick-and-easy manicure? Apply a coat of light colored nail polish. Once dry, dip each fingernail in rubbing alcohol (available for just a few bucks in drug stores) for five seconds, then press a small piece of newspaper to each fingernail for one second and lift off. (We chose the Free Will Astrology page for the extra small type!) Seal with a coat of clear polish.  
click to enlarge It's CP writer Hannah Lynn's birthday and everyone deserves a newspaper party hat on their birthday! - CP PHOTO: ABBIE ADAMS
CP photo: Abbie Adams
It's CP writer Hannah Lynn's birthday and everyone deserves a newspaper party hat on their birthday!

Day eight: Jan. 8, 2020
Newspaper Hat

Video tutorials for making a birthday hat use square paper. A full sheet of our paper is a rectangle, but folded into squares. The square page, however, would make a party hat that would only fit on the head of a small dog or maybe a rabbit. But with some combination of tape, staples, and determination, you can get something that vaguely resembles a birthday hat that is almost big enough to rest on top of your head if you don’t move at all.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JOSIE NORTON
CP photo: Josie Norton

Day nine: Jan. 9, 2020
Crane Chain

That chain of birds is one continuous piece of newspaper! The page has been cut and folded origami style into a super cute newspaper crane chain fit to be displayed on your office desk or attached to string and hung in your favorite window.


click to enlarge CP PHOTO: KEVIN SHEPHERD
CP photo: Kevin Shepherd

Day ten: Jan. 10, 2020
Newspaper Birdhouse

Pittsburgh birds won't be left out of the city's booming housing market now that they have this sweet new home to roost inside. We created it with pages from City Paper, cardboard, wooden chopsticks, coffee stirrers, and a lot of glue mixed with water.
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JOSIE NORTON
CP photo: Josie Norton

Day eleven: Jan. 11, 2020
Newspaper Trinket Box

Gifting something small? Want a cute container to hold your enamel pin collection? Make your own trinket box with a page from City Paper. We lined ours with a piece of paper from our copier for extra stability. Miss V from this week's cover story on drag brunches looks especially fabulous adorning the top of our box, doesn't she?

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JOSIE NORTON
CP photo: Josie Norton

Day twelve: Jan. 12, 2020
Kawasaki Rose

Lucky for us, there's an unlimited number of paper flowers to be made with origami. For today's project, we made a newspaper Kawasaki Rose. Isn't it pretty? Watch this video for instructions if you also want to decorate your desk with a paper flower in a cute little vase. (The strawberry bud vase in this photo is from one of our favorite local artists, Jenna Vanden Brink.)

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JORDAN SNOWDEN
CP photo: Jordan Snowden

Day thirteen: Jan. 13, 2020
Newspaper Rave Ball

Forget twine balls! Cut a City Paper into thin strips, get 'em real gluey, plaster them all over a balloon, and make yourself a newspaper rave ball! The best part is popping the ballon after it's dried and watching the ball slowly crinkle. You get to experience an acute sense of failure before the paper inflates again. You didn't mess up the craft! Go you!

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day fourteen: Jan. 14, 2020
Newspaper Bookmarks

When you're making a bookmark using newspaper, it's important to laminate the page so it can both stand up to the frequent movement that comes from moving it between chapters as you're reading, and to protect your book from newsprint. But if you don't have a laminator machine, here's a tip: clear packaging tape works just as well when you're working with small materials. Just cut your bookmarks smaller than the width of the tape (we traced ours using a 1.5" wide template); slowly cover the front and back of your page with clear packaging tape, making sure to smooth out any air bubbles; then trim to fit. Use a hole puncher to create a hole on the top, then finish with an embroidery floss ribbon.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JORDAN SNOWDEN
CP photo: Jordan Snowden

Day fifteen: Jan. 15, 2020
Newspaper Crown

Queen! Gateway Senior High School student Erika Jackson was in our office today, shadowing music writer Jordan Snowden. In between writing workshops, Jackson created this newspaper crown. Check back on our site soon for a new project with Jackson that will illustrate why she deserves to wear that crown.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day sixteen: Jan. 16, 2020
Newspaper Bowl

Warning: You're not going to want to eat out of this bowl. But, a decoupage newspaper bowl is perfect for holding all of the extra office sugar packets! This is our second experiment using a balloon. To make the bowl, we blew up the balloon, then covered half of it with strips of newspaper dipped in Mod Podge. Let dry, then pop the balloon! (You can watch video of editor Lisa Cunningham popping the balloon on a story on her Instagram page.)

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
CP photo: Amanda Waltz

Day seventeen: Jan. 17, 2020
Origami Unicorn?

You wouldn't know CP senior arts and entertainment writer Amanda Waltz loves unicorns based on this botched attempt at making what was supposed to be an origami version of the mythical beast. After three attempts, and various YouTube tutorials, she emerged with ink-stained fingers and the shame of having to use glue and Sharpie to make it look unicorn-ish. Upon looking at it, CP graphic designer Josie Norton stated, "Uh, maybe you could put glitter on it?"

click to enlarge Light switch art from Cheryl Capezzuti's Discarded - CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham
Light switch art from Cheryl Capezzuti's Discarded

Day eighteen: Jan. 18, 2020
Light Switch Cover

Customizing a light switch cover is an incredibly cheap and easy way to add artwork to a boring wall. You could always use Mod Podge to create a newspaper collage on top of an existing white cover, but for today's project, we simply used a clear plastic cover (available for purchase in stores like Ace Hardware) and found an image in this week's issue that fit the frame. Trace then cut out an outline of the shape (using a razor blade or X-Acto knife to precisely cut the hole in the middle for the switch), then pop it in the frame. This example uses a photograph of great lint artwork from Pittsburgh artist Cheryl Capezzuti, whose show Discarded (click for our review!) is on display through Fri., Feb. 14 at be galleries.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day nineteen: Jan. 19, 2020
Smart Phone Speaker

Every now and then when we post a political story online, right wingers flock to our social media pages to troll us with what they think is an original insult: "Pittsburgh City Paper? More like Pittsburgh Shitty Paper!" (So clever! They can rhyme!) For today's project, we've gone to the shitter — literally! — to make a smart phone speaker using a cardboard toilet paper tube, a page from City Paper, glue, scissors, and some push pins. You can watch a video tutorial for the basics here, but it's super easy. Just cut a phone-sized hole in your toilet paper tube, glue on your choice of decorative paper, cut the same sized hole in the paper once attached, then hold up with two thick push pins in the back of the tube. Insert your phone and crank up the volume on the new Mac Miller album. Pittsburgh Shitty Paper? More like this DIY City Paper speaker is the shit, amiright?


click to enlarge CP PHOTO: KEVIN SHEPHERD
CP photo: Kevin Shepherd

Day twenty: Jan. 20, 2020
Newspaper Skull Mask

Halloween came early to the City Paper offices! When our editor saw a Pinterest photograph of a DIY newspaper skull, she knew she had to send it to our resident ghoul-loving graphic designer Jeff Schreckengost. But since Jeff doesn't do anything half-assed, he immediately started working on this monstrous beauty. Using the original Pinterest post as inspiration, Jeff created a life-sized paper mache skull mask, using cardboard, newspaper, and glue. He's a handsome gent, make no bones about it.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: ABBIE ADAMS
CP photo: Abbie Adams

Day twenty one: Jan. 21, 2020
Beaded Newspaper Earrings

Turn your newspaper into sustainable, lightweight, and colorful jewelry. Newspaper beads are super easy and quite meditative to make. This guide for making paper beads helped us out but don’t be deterred by the long supplies list. Tightly wrap the strips of newspaper around anything — a chopstick does the trick — and apply a little glue as you go. (You can also easily forgo the brush and just use your finger.) After letting them dry, fashion them into whatever you’d like! We just made two beads into a pair of earrings, but you could string together a bunch into a necklace or bracelet — they are surprisingly durable!

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day twenty two: Jan. 22, 2020
Newspaper Hoop

Forgive us, readers. We. Are. Tired. Our new issue came out today (give it a read!), and we're knee-deep in working on next week's big Winter Guide and next month's Taste food magazine. (There's still time to buy an ad in either publication from our friendly sales staff, wink wink.) Today's project isn't the most inventive, but it is quick and simple. Just cut out this week's crossword puzzle, hold the paper as tight as you can to decrease the number of wrinkles while pressing it into an embroidery hoop, and then write a message if you so desire in some of the squares. Quick art for your walls or a cheesy last-minute gift for your favorite crossword fan.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: KEVIN SHEPHERD
CP photo: Kevin Shepherd

Day twenty three: Jan. 23, 2020
Newspaper Kite

We're feeling like a kid again with today's project: a newspaper kite! Director of Operations Kevin Shepherd created the kite using newspaper, wooden chopsticks, tape, and dental floss. Does it really work? The photograph above was taken out of our office window, but for a real treat, watch Kevin run across the office below.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JORDAN SNOWDEN
CP photo: Jordan Snowden
Day twenty four: Jan. 24, 2020
Newspaper Fortune Catcher

Flashback to childhood crushes and cootie-ridden classmates with this newspaper fortune catcher. For more excitement, make the inside fortunes adult-themed, like "no dishes for you tonight" or "one free oral sex job."

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JORDAN SNOWDEN
CP photo: Jordan Snowden

Day twenty five: Jan. 25, 2020
Newspaper Picture Frame

An early Valentines gift to decorate CP’s new office — a photo of music writer Jordan Snowden, in a mini heart!

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham
Day twenty six: Jan. 26, 2020
Newspaper Dress

OK, full disclosure: We're kind of cheating with today's entry, going back to an older project from a few years ago. But, come on ... it's just too perfect for this theme not to share! In 2017, associate publisher Justin Matase created a newspaper dress for Pride, which he then wore as he marched through Downtown Pittsburgh with the rest of the City Paper staff to show our support for the city's LGBTQ community during the annual parade. Our fun today? Remembering how the crowd reacted to seeing Justin's incredible dress every time we turned a corner.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham

Day twenty seven: Jan. 27, 2020
Newspaper Bow

If you squint, today's project doesn't look too bad. (Just don't look at it too closely.) All you need for this project is a full page from City Paper and a stapler. The instructions looked really easy, but the example we found online was created from the front cover of The New Yorker, and a glossy magazine is definitely sturdier than newsprint. (Maybe grab one of our quarterly City Paper magazines for this project if you decide to give it a try.)

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: KEVIN SHEPHERD
CP photo: Kevin Shepherd
Day twenty eight: Jan. 28, 2020
Newspaper Baseball Cap

Kevin was worried that Jeff's newspaper skull from day no. 20 looked a little chilly, so he constructed an extra large newspaper baseball cap to protect his newspaper cranium. He first made the dome shape by decoupaging a large balloon, then used duct tape to attach it to a rim made from cardboard. A few extra layers on top of pages from City Paper complete the look, and now the skull is comfortably sippin' hot coffee so his insides are as warm as his head.
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: ALEX GORDON
CP photo: Alex Gordon

Day twenty nine: Jan. 29, 2020
Jumping frog origami

This "jumping" origami frog might not look like a frog, or jump particularly fast or high or consistently or even at all sometimes, but it has personality, and personality goes a long way. He was crafted from a cutout of this week's CP crossword, which is smaller and less sturdy than what's ideal for building origami frog bones. So considering the hand he was dealt, the little guy's hops are pretty impressive. If you want to attempt at home, use sturdy paper larger than 4x4"; none of the moves are all that challenging if you're working with the right paper. Since IPAs have hoarded all the good "hop" puns, we're just calling him Quigley, after CP's long-time syndicated cruciverbalist, Brendan Emmett Quigley. We look forward to a clue in next week's puzzle: 4 down, 11 letters, Paper Hopper. (A: origami frog.)


click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JOSH OSWALD
CP photo: Josh Oswald

Day thirty: Jan. 30, 2020
Newspaper airplanes

Everyone made paper airplanes as a kid, but does anyone really remember exactly how? This is where YouTube tutorials come in handy. Hannah made an average Joe plane, no funny business. Bryer made an avant-garde plane that looks like a hat but flies like a dream. The two planes raced in the hallway to mixed results. Bryer's plane few farther and more consistently, while Hannah's had a choppier ride. Ultimately both only went a few feet, but the real journey was the friends they made along the way.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham
Day thirty one: Jan. 31, 2020
Newspaper confetti

Rice and bird seed and glitter are so yesterday. We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the end of Fun A Day than throwing eco-friendly, upcycled newspaper confetti in the air. Grab your favorite hole punchers — we used star- and heart-shaped ones to add an extra element of fun — if you want to make your own. We're finishing our month-long project with ink-stained fingers and giant smiles on our faces.

And we bet we're not the only ones. More than 120 others ended up joining in on the fun this year for Fun a Day Pittsburgh, and the fun isn't over yet. On Sat., Feb. 29, there will be a Fun A Day PGH Art Show 2020 for participants to show off their work at CDCP Project Space in Wilkinsburg. Who knows? You just may get the opportunity to meet our newspaper skull in person.

Did you make any of our projects? Send us pics!

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