Hi friends,

I don’t know about you but I’ve been doing even more recycling than usual over the last few months.  I have been setting myself a challenge to use as much as possible to avoid sending it all to the tip/recycling centre, or having it pile up in the house, since the tip/recycling centre was actually closed for a few months.  It has now reopened but with restrictions, limits to number of people, social distancing etc so I am still not inclined to visit just yet.  So this project is all about using some recycled elements that may or may not usually end up in the bin depending on how you recycle, and to make a record of life during lockdown.


So this project is all about using some recycled elements that may or may not usually end up in the bin depending on how you recycle, and to make a record of life during lockdown, using some of my photos and a bit of journaling.

I’m using this Covid-19 art set…

These toilet paper tubes…

And one side of this cereal box…


Overview of Process

The first step is to flatten the toilet roll tubes using a bone folder.

That should do the trick but sometimes I like to run them through my Big Shot to make sure they are extra flat lol.

Pieces to cut:

– Three pieces for the hinge
– One piece for the cover

To make the hinge that will hold the TP pages together, cut a piece of cardboard from the cereal box that is just a tiny bit less that the height of the tube so that it will slide inside as shown below.  The hinge I am making is an old technique I think is called stack the deck.  Please note that all measurements are approximate and all depend on the size of your toilet paper tube, since every brand is different.  My tube when flattened measures approximately 4 x 3 inches, but yours might be different so make sure to measure everything before cutting.  My measurements for this piece (based on my 4 x 3 tube) are 2 7/8 H x 2 3/4 W.

You need three pieces for the hinge if you want six “pages”, if you want more pages you will need more pieces to add to your hinge.  The photo below shows my three hinge pieces and the larger piece I cut for my album cover (more on that later).

So as I said, my hinge is 2 7/8 tall, and from that I cut three pieces, each one wider than the previous one as these will sit inside each other and “stack”. My pieces measured 1 3/4 (score at 3/4 on either side, leaving 1/4 in the middle), 2 1/4 (score at 3/4 on either side leaving 3/4 in the middle), and 2 3/4 (score 3/4 on either side leaving 1 1/4 in the middle).  Assemble your hinge, it should look something like this:

Making the cover

I decided to use the Tim Holtz Abandoned paper stash from my collection. I really love the dark brown with the text and what looks like lightning bolts down one side, so I chose papers to complement that one.

I chose three papers for the tubes and one paper for the outside and inside covers.

To make the cover, use the cereal box cardboard and decide what size you want it to be, depending on how you want your tag book to look.  I made my covers 4.5 inches square so I have a lot of space around my tube, top, bottom and sides, but you could make yours the same size as the tube if you like – just remember to account for the tags that will be sticking out of the tubes!  My cardboard piece was 11 1/4 x 4 1/2, scored at 4 1/2 on either side, giving you a spine of 2 1/4.   I covered both sides of my cover with black gesso.

Then I used a combination of brown metallic acrylic and brown fluid acrylic to paint around the edges of the outside of the cover.  This is because I plan to add my papers to the middle only as I wanted a border around the outside, but you could cut your paper to the same size as the cover and cover the whole thing.

Tip: by cutting the paper into 4 x 4 inch squares, I saved paper by only using one of these 8 x 8 sheets for all the covers. Paint is cheaper than paper so using the smaller sized paper and painting around the edges saves me money and saves hacking into more paper and actually looks better IMO!

So as you see above, my covers are now this lovely shiny vintage-y brown colour which I love but was not the plan and so the paper I choose doesn’t really match now.

However all is not lost as the pattern on the reverse side is FANTASTIC and is the perfect match for my painted cover!  Edge all the papers with Archival ink to hide the white cut edges and then glue them in place.   I like to round the corners to make it neater and to stop them getting dog-eared.

Next I cut the papers to cover the tubes.  I cut them as one long piece so I could wrap it around both sides and fold it over the other side.

I used a bone folder to make them nice and flat and give them good sharp edges.  When they are all covered they look like this:

I painted around the edges of the tubes so no plain cardboard was showing, and did the same with the hinge.  Now it’s time to slide all the tubes on to the hinge.  This hinge has space for six tubes, but you can always make it larger and add more tubes.

Then I glued the hinge onto the spine.

Decoration time!

Choose your elements and cover them with white gesso.  Note you can do this at any time, or in advance of your project, it doesn’t have to be now.

Once the gesso is dry paint them with the color of your choice.  I painted mine this bright lime green using Paperartsy Limelight chalk paint.

Leave them all to dry – won’t take long as this paint dries super fast!

As this is a tag book, I also used some tags from my stash and cut them down to fit inside my tubes as they were too long and sticking out too much.  Then I printed out some photos I took during lockdown – mostly shopping trips, queuing, social distancing, empty shelves etc.   I printed them on watercolour paper because I could not remember where I put my 6 x 4 photo paper and wanted to fit four photos on that size paper, so I used the watercolour paper and actually it turned out better as I can now write directly on the photos!  I distressed the edges a little bit with my scissors before gluing them on to the tags.

For my cover I chose the Staying Home 2020 elements – did you notice the 2020 is on toilet rolls?   Just perfect for my little book, right lol.

Finished Book

For the inside cover I used the lockdown and virus elements, and below is how it looks with the tag and photo included.


On another page I used the Wash your hands and hand sanitiser elements, and you can see another one of the tags and photos.


Here’s another one of the tags and photos, this time showing the empty shelves in the supermarket.


Here’s a look at the inside back cover which uses the COVID-19 element.

I used the biological hazard element on the spine of the book.

As a final touch I outlined all the letters on the cover using an Stabilo pencil, you can see the different it makes between the 20 on the left and the 20 on the right which has been outlined.

And that’s the finished tag book!

This could be used to record messages, journal entries, photos or just your thoughts of this time. I have added my photos to the tags but I still have some “empty” pages, so I could also add some photos or journaling on them.

Hope you enjoyed this eco-friendly, recycling tutorial. Let me know what you think in the comments below.




Project Recipe

GSL:  Covid-19 art
toilet paper tubes
cereal box
gesso – white, black
Paperartsy Fresco Chalk paint – Snowflake, Limelight,
metallic paint – Hazelnut
fluid acrylic paint – Burnt Sienna
Tim Holtz Abandoned paper stash
Archival ink – Vintage Photo
Nuvo Deluxe Adhesive
Corner rounder or corner punch (optional)
Tags to fit inside tubes (or make your own)
Photos to fit on tags or tubes
Bone folder to flatten tubes (optional)

I started something new for April and continuing on during lockdown:

Since we are all stuck inside and can’t leave the house, I thought I would try and do two things:
1. use this time to finish any unfinished projects
2. use as much recycled materials as possible (I do this a lot anyway) but also not to buy new stuff!
So, with that in mind, I will note the above on any posts, if applicable.
RECYCLED MATERIALS – YES Boots bag, tissue paper, Aussie flag patch

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