Tagged: the second century AD

Most Creative DIY Uses of Paper

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Paper has been around since as early as the second century AD and the process of creating it is believed to have been developed in China. It is a multi-purpose substance and is widely used for several different applications, including representing value (i.e. money), writing, printing, packaging, cleaning and construction. Its existence and usefulness was spread to the rest of the world through the Middle East and into Europe during the Middle Ages, and the first water powered paper mills were built there circa the 13th century.

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In the 19th century, industrial production drastically lowered its cost, facilitating an increase in paper based communication and signalling a new era via massive cultural shifts. Even now, in the 21st century, with a massive shift to digital media, paper still plays a huge role in our daily lives. Not least, because it is still a very versatile substance that can be utilised in a plethora of creative ways. Here, we will look at some of the most creative uses of paper that can be replicated for DIY purposes in the home environment.

Papier Mache

Papier Mache

Papier Mache, from the French language and literally translating as ‘chewed paper’, is the process of crafting models artistically with paper strips soaked in water and bound together by flour, glue, wallpaper paste and/or starch. It is popular with primary school children and craft lovers alike and is used typically used for semi-permanent and temporary sculptures ranging from face masks and piggy banks, to piñatas and carnival floats.

Despite the French name, this craft technique was not originated in France but in China, where paper was first developed. It was commonly used in the manufacturing of helmets which were made sturdier by several layers of lacquer. The technique spread to Japan and the Middle East where it was used much as it is today, for mask making and festival activities, before spreading to the rest of the world by the 18th century when it became universally popular.

Decoupage

Decoupage

Decoupage, from Middle French ‘decouper’, meaning to cut out or cut from something, is the art of decorating an object by gluing coloured paper cut-outs onto it along with gold or silver leaf, etc. Typically, an item of furniture or something similar is plastered with several layers of paper cut-outs. The layers are all individually sealed with varnish until the result resembles painting or inlay work. The origin of the art form is largely considered to be East Siberian tomb art, where the Nomadic tribes of the time used cut out felt to decorate the tombs of their dearly departed. By the 1600s, the practice made its way into Europe, via Italy which had established strong trade links with the Far East.

Origami

Origami

Origami is the art form based on intricately folding paper in order to ‘sculpt’ a three dimensional model. If the use of glue, cuts and markings are applied, then purists do not consider it to be true origami. It is often associated with Japan and its culture, but in modern terms, it is used inclusively for all folding practices, regardless of their origin. The relatively small number of basic folds utilised in origami can be combined in several ways to create very elaborate designs, with the most popular example of an origami model being the Japanese crane.

Card-making

Card-making

Card-making is the art of hand-crafting greeting cards, done by both amateurs and experts either for personal or commercial purposes. The tradition of sending greeting cards, as with most things paper related, can be traced back to ancient China, where people exchanged messages and good wishes to celebrate the New Year. Greeting cards exchanged as a tradition did not begin in Europe until the 1400s, and by the 19th century they had been transformed from being an expensive accompaniment to a gift, or being the gift itself, to being an affordable and easily accessible means of personal communication. This was owed in no small part to the great advancements made in the industry due to the industrial revolution. The custom of exchanging greeting cards at Christmas time also began in the 19th century.

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