Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Many Uses of Brown Paper - save those bags!

1. Roofs - Wanna in El Paso described the process for making rustic shingles from a brown paper bag on the Roomboxes Digest. Cut away or unfold the end so that you have one continuous open bag. Measure your first line roughly about a quarter to a half inch wider than you want your shingles (this was for twelfth scale), then you angle in with your scissors and start cutting. For instance, picture a one inch strip that you've begun, then you just keep going around and around the bag until you get to the opposite end. You wind up with one very long continuous strip. Then you fold so that you have a few layers together and snip in a ways for the shingles, leaving the extra quarter or half inch uncut. It doesn't matter if they aren't spaced evenly.
You just glue them on, with each row of shingles overlapping the uncut top edge of the previous row. Stagger them so that the shingles alternate. You can brush them with varnish, then finish however you want, or you can just add various stains and washes to get the aged look you want. I have no exact recipe; I just do it. The stains and washes cause the edges to curl and they look either very old and/or very fairy-tale-ish.

I don't have a picture of this process, and I don't seem to have photos of any house done this way because it was years ago. However, there is a little egg birdhouse in my Cheeps Birdhouse Shop that has this type of shingles, so you can get an idea. In that case, I just wound it around and around on the egg and didn't do anything else to the roof. For a regular roof, you would cut the strips to length, of course.

Just scroll down until you see it sitting on the ground.

2. Sandpaper - as a final finish, brown paper makes even acrylic paints shine! and makes the finish more durable.
3. Grocery bags - make a few for your mini-shopper.
4. Wallpaper - paper with larger creases can be painted white to look like rough plaster.
5. Leather effect - the thinner brown bag can be crumpled again and again until it is very soft, applied to a trunk and stained to resemble leather.