How to make a DIY Scrap Inbox – for Collage Artists

My absolute favorite “inbox” is not an inbox, it’s is a tool for becoming inspired to do collage. My inbox is a paper box where I store scraps of paper a.k.a. other people’s trash a.k.a the collage artists biggest treasure (paper scraps for collage). It has been a constant on my desk for years and I love it. I can’t imagine how I did collages before I had this… I now consider it a must for all collage artists!

I use an ordinary paper box I got in the mail, and I’m sure you have something similar at hand? Grab it and let’s prettify it a bit. Just because we’re messy paper hoarders doesn’t mean we’ve got to have a desk covered in piles of books, dust and papers, right?

I had my Scrap Inbox plain brown for a long time, but no more. It’s time for a change!

DIY inbox

So here is a quick tutorial on how I did just that with a simple paper box, a recycled box from an Amazon book delivery. If you’re not into collage you can use this tutorial to make yours a desk inbox for postcards and bills. Every desk needs one!

Spray paint - white

Brought out white spray paint and coated the corrugated paper box two times all around each side.

White inbox

Maybe I should’ve painted the inside too, but really, it is already filled to the brim with scraps of papers and you will never see the inside again unless “someone” cleans it, and who would that be really?

DIY tutorial on striped inbox

Now, get coloured tape and start taping your box until it is covered with black and white stripes. Pretty, me thinks. I also covered the top edge, to make it more durable.

Taped and finished

Being organized is never easy to me; instead it is a constant battle that I seem to loose. There are so many papers everywhere, and keeping it organized is so darn difficult! But I do try my very best and always come up with new ways to organize things.

Black and white stripes

Last year when I started using this shallow paper box from Amazon as storage for little paper scraps it really helped to keep my desk clean(er). I tend to make piles of papers to “store away” somewhere, but now I just put them in the inbox! Those little bits could just as easily be tossed in the trash, but some are really good and I see this container as “temporary”. If they are not used in a while I will toss them for good, I hereby promise! Though now I have learned to enjoy using that stuff a lot.

I like that they are always there, accumulate without effort and are easy to reach when I am working. Quite a few of last years collages were made just from scraps from the now b/w inbox!

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12 Responses to How to make a DIY Scrap Inbox – for Collage Artists

  1. Sophie says:

    Hi Hanna

    i know the feeling of being organized,…you put all those little things (sraps of paper, fabric, buttons,…) in different boxes…after a while you have to reorganize because the boxes become to small. When everything has his place, I’m too tired to start creating something…I think for me it’s better to be a little more messy, chaotic than too organized!!!!

  2. Scatter says:

    I love to make something functional out of nothing! Great job!

  3. iHanna says:

    Thanks for commenting! Being organized is never an easy task. I’m planning to write more about it on my blog this year. Recycling is great, when you’re on a tight budget! :-)

  4. Elliott says:

    I do the same thing on my desk except my box is still ugly. I need to take a cue from you and decorate mine. Good thing this project is simple enough that even my lazy self can accomplish it. :)

  5. Libby says:

    excellent! I am queen of disorder so I can use this 1000% :-)

  6. iHanna says:

    Elliott, thanks for taking the time to comment! Mine was ugly many months, but when I noticed it was here “to stay” I prettified it!

    Libby, glad you like it! As Queen of Disorder I bet you have a few boxes around that can use some decorating, then!? ;-)

  7. missyk says:

    Hi Hanna

    I got a really brilliant tip about storage of scrap paper from Mary at Green Paper http://greenpaper.typepad.com/green/ when I took her wonderful collage class. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me sharing it with you.

    Basically you sort your scraps by size, you have three trays that fit into one another. Each smaller than the other. The papers start of in the big tray and as you use bits the scraps left get smaller they progress through the trays. When you need a ‘little something’ you know where to look!

    When you clear your desk you just sort it quickly into the appropriate size tray.

    Mary explains it much better but it really does work! and she manages to clean off her desk in under a minute….. impressive!!!

    This way when you are looking for a scrap piece for a collage or project they are available by size. Does that make sense? It works really well for me.

    ps I LOVE my collage it arrived safely today :)

  8. iHanna says:

    Karen, thanks for sharing that. I’m not sure it would work for me because I have such big piles of paper that they really need to be put away regularly, but sorting after size is absolutely easier than any other way. Glad you got the collage and like it. *happy*

  9. I find it so hard to throw any scraps away because I can’t help seeing future potential in them. I’m the same with buttons, ribbon, interesting pieces of recycling…….. Anyhow the result is that I too am always fighting with a house full of clutter. I do try and organise but when containers get full, new ones are then started & then soon I have no room for all my containers. I think your idea of setting a time limit & if not used then scraps are thrown is a great idea. I’ll try and be brave and try this…

    Happy New Year
    Kat X

  10. Oh my gosh… this is brilliant! I keep tonz of ziplock bags of scraps… you just helped me figure out a better system!!!

  11. Chris says:

    Oh, this looks like just the kind of thing I’d love to do while I’m organizing my studio! Being creative in the middle of it!

  12. Pingback: The Polka Dot Oilcloth Desk | iHanna's Blog

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