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How-Tuesday: Greeting Card Lamp + Gift Wrap Yarn

Dec 28, 2010

by Diane Gilleland handmade and vintage goods

Whew, breathe a sign of relief! The busy season of making presents, baking gingerbread, gluttonous snacking, preparing orders, stamping, taping, wrapping, giving, and on and on has mellowed out, and it’s time to sail into another year. Sometimes the holidays have a way of generating a lot of pretty paper that’s just destined for the recycling bin.

This week’s How-Tuesday features two projects for giving that gift wrap a second chance. Learn how to spin paper yarn with Laila Grainawi from LaiGrai, and make a lamp with the help of Diane Gilleland (a.k.a. Sister Diane) from CraftyPod (if you haven’t already, be sure to check out her podcasts) and Kristin Roach from Craft Leftovers. Read on, recyclers!

Greeting Card Lamp

If you have a lot of colorful greeting cards lying around, why not cut them up and turn them into a cool piece of home decor? This project is a fun way to customize a plain lamp shade, and you can easily change the colors as your mood changes.

This project is inspired by Card. Paper. Ribbon, an ebook of craft projects we published together in early 2010. The ebook has even more creative ways you can use torn gift wrap, used greeting cards, and kinked-up curling ribbon. You’d be surprised at all the useful things you can make from these leftovers! You can score your own copy of Card. Paper. Ribbon right here on Etsy. You can even buy the ebook and make another craft project with the guidance of one of these tutorials.


  • Old greeting cards
  • Paper cutter
  • Christmas ornament hooks (or 24 gauge craft wire)
  • Tacky glue
  • 1/8” hole punch
  • Package of 11 mm jump rings
  • Needle nose pliers (optional)
  • Super glue

Two Notes on Greeting Cards:

What’s great about this project is, you’ll be cutting your cards into 1” squares, and that size tends to obscure most holiday-specific graphics. I like to group my old cards according to their main color family, and then combine the colors according to the room I’m crafting for.

Remember, glitter dulls blades. If your greeting cards have any glitter on them, this can be hard on your paper cutter blade. It you’re using glittery cards, you might want to keep a fresh blade on hand, just in case.

1. Cut off the front panels of your cards. Then, cut each front panel into 1” strips.

2. On the back of these strips, measure and draw a pencil line down the center, lengthwise. (These lines will be a guide for punching holes in a moment.)

3. Now, cut each strip into 1” squares. The number you’ll need depends entirely on the size of your
lampshade. The small shade I made here took 88 squares.

4. Take a tree ornament hook and bend the top around so it looks like this. The loop at the bottom should be flat against your work surface while the main hook faces upward. (Or, cut a 2” length of craft wire and bend it into this shape.)

5. Place the bottom loop of the hook between two card squares and glue them together with tacky glue. Place the squares under a heavy book while the glue dries.

6. Use a 1/8” hole punch to make a tiny hole in the top and bottom of each square. Use the lines you drew in Step 1 as a guide for centering your punches, and keep them no more than 1/8” away from the edges of each square.

7. Arrange your squares in rows, placing the colors and patterns as you like them. Take one jump ring and twist it open a little, as shown here. (Note: the 11mm jump rings we’re using here are large enough to open and close with your fingers, but you might find it easier to use a pair of needle-nose pliers.)

8. String two squares on this open ring, facing back to back. Twist the ring closed again.

9. Keep adding squares in this manner until the strand is as long as you want.

10. If you’d like, you can put a tiny drop of super glue over the opening-point in each jump ring. This will seal the ring so that the squares won’t slip off later.

11. Punch a hole in the center bottom of the hook piece you made in step 5, and attach it to the top of the finished strand with another jump ring. (Note: The hook should be pointing down when the piece is attached to the strand, as shown here.)

12. To attach the strand to a lamp shade, simply hang it over the top. Pinch the hook to tighten it around the shade. You can make as many or as few strands as you like, depending on the look you want. You can also make them long enough to dangle below the shade, or the same length as the shade — it’s up to you!

Wrapping Paper Yarn

Project by Laila Grainawi, from the beautiful, fibrous shop, laigrai.

After each carefully wrapped present is ripped open and shouts of glee have faded from the air… what to do with that mess everywhere?

Let’s admit it, the holidays come with a certain amount of waste. But, those torn wrapping paper bits don’t have to end up in the trash bin. Gather them up, plus a spinning wheel (or a drop spindle), a cone of yarn, some wool, and your hands.

In this particular tutorial, we are going to corespin the paper around a thread. (Corespun yarn is made by wrapping fibers around an inner fiber.) Essentially, this takes some of the stress off the paper to enmesh together and form a strong enough bond to support the twist needed to make yarn.

Cone yarn and blue-faced Leicester wool roving

How to corespin a wrapping paper yarn:

Please reference this video I have created, if you need help with steps 2 through 6.

1. Salvage your wrapping paper remains by tearing them into strips about 5 inches long.
2. Thread and tie your cone yarn onto your spinning device (wheel or spindle).
3. Draft out your fibers and corespin a little bit of the wool, by letting the fibers wrap on perpendicularly to the core.
4. Split the wool and insert a section of torn wrapping paper.

5. Let the wrapping paper wind onto the cone yarn, creating spirals of paper.

6. Tuck in the ends of the paper by securing it in place with some more wool.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you have a sizable amount of wrapping paper yarn.

8. Now, use your new yarn to drape around as a festive garland, knit a New Year’s party hat with it, or with a couple wraps, it’s your new favorite necklace!

What are your gift wrap recycling ideas? Share with us in the comments below!

Paper Craft Tutorials | More How-Tuesday Posts


  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    Yay for reusing! That yarn is quite crafty ;)

  • purrpower

    purrpower said 6 years ago

    that is the most amazing thing! so clever

  • ThoseThreeWords

    ThoseThreeWords said 6 years ago

    Wow! Love the lamp idea, great uses for holiday leftovers!

  • vKnit

    vKnit said 6 years ago

    i love all these DIY's on Etsy! Totally loving the yarn wrapping paper!! xox

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Wow! Awesome! That lamp is amazing! Great idea =)

  • WinchesterLambourne

    WinchesterLambourne said 6 years ago

    Oh, this is an excellent article! I love working with leftovers.

  • NotYourGrandmasAttic

    NotYourGrandmasAttic said 6 years ago

    Love the idea of using throw away items to make nice crafts. Great ideas.

  • Marietjee

    Marietjee said 6 years ago

    The lamp is really cute!

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    Was just sitting here cutting up this year's holiday cards to recycle. Will check out the podcasts. Thanks.

  • auntjanecan

    auntjanecan said 6 years ago

    I like this. Interesting article and I love reusing things.

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 6 years ago

    The wrapping paper yarn is amazing!

  • museumshop

    museumshop said 6 years ago

    Great ideas. Recycle is good.

  • daydreamjewels

    daydreamjewels said 6 years ago

    So clever!!! The wrapping paper yarn is fabulous and the lamp is so cute. Very create :)

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Great way to use old cards and wrapping paper!

  • gizmofiberarts

    gizmofiberarts said 6 years ago

    This looks like fun, can't wait to try making that lamp shade!

  • drawcity

    drawcity said 6 years ago

    Ingenious, recycling is the order of the day! Great article, thanks for sharing :)

  • HadaraTLV

    HadaraTLV said 6 years ago


  • QueenofCuffs

    QueenofCuffs said 6 years ago

    Wonderful - I love reuse - revive - I love this thinking. Vintage are not the only pieces to be set up again - love the ideas here. Thanks for sharing.

  • JudiPaintedit

    JudiPaintedit said 6 years ago


  • AZCreativeStudio

    AZCreativeStudio said 6 years ago

    Great project idea!!!

  • Niftic

    Niftic said 6 years ago

    Clever & Fun! Never know what you guys will come up with next. Sharing is awesome.

  • abigailsclothing

    abigailsclothing said 6 years ago

    We love both ideas, upcycling projects are great and we love upcycling!! Thanks for the fab ideas!

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 6 years ago

    what a cute way to recycle. very clever!

  • carlossantiago

    carlossantiago said 6 years ago

    oh my! cute things!

  • KMalinka

    KMalinka said 6 years ago

    Superb work!

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage said 6 years ago

    Love both projects--they give me such great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing! I LOVE holiday paper--HATE to throw it away! This would make such cool garland for the tree next year--that's what I'm going to do!

  • Verdurebydesign

    Verdurebydesign said 6 years ago

    What a great article. Thinking about what we use and how to reuse it is exciting!

  • ErikaPrice

    ErikaPrice said 6 years ago

    What great ideas - thanks for sharing!

  • shop1848

    shop1848 said 6 years ago

    Great ideas! Excellent work!

  • vivikas

    vivikas said 6 years ago

    This is great!

  • MadebyLinLin

    MadebyLinLin said 6 years ago

    Awesome ideas thanks so much!

  • ArleenDesign

    ArleenDesign said 6 years ago

    What a fabulous idea!Can't wait to check my torn holiday wrapping papers and see what i can do with them.Thanks!

  • pinkpoison74

    pinkpoison74 said 6 years ago

    The lamp idea is really cool it would be super cool if you connected all four sides of the square together to make a complete lamp cover with the light beaming through :)

  • pinkpoison74

    pinkpoison74 said 6 years ago

    super cool! love recycling xoxo

  • ITartYou

    ITartYou said 6 years ago

    I love this! I enjoy finding new ways to reuse things and this will definitely come in handy during this time of year :)

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago


  • SweetlyFallen

    SweetlyFallen said 6 years ago

    Very neat! Thanks for sharing!

  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle said 6 years ago

    I like the recycling ideas!!

  • TheVinylChalkboard

    TheVinylChalkboard said 6 years ago

    I love the yarn idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jewelry4Change

    Jewelry4Change said 6 years ago

    Inspiring... thanks for sharing.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Really like the card lampshade, would make a really pretty garland!

  • Floreal

    Floreal said 6 years ago

    Very Inspiring!

  • grandmamarievintage

    grandmamarievintage said 6 years ago

    So creative! Great ideas!

  • pinkbijou

    pinkbijou said 6 years ago

    Thanks for your article!

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 6 years ago

    I am the recycling queen...these ideas top mine for sure! Thanks!

  • novemberbutterflies

    novemberbutterflies said 6 years ago

    very good! i love both ideas! i used my old wrapping paper scraps as firestarter (i heat my house with a woodstove) and old christmas cards make great decoupage, pressed jewelry(like pressed flowers) and calendars.

  • novemberbutterflies

    novemberbutterflies said 6 years ago

    i loved both ideas! i used my left over wrapping paper scraps for firestarter, and left over greeting card fronts make great items for decoupage, making calendars, making jewelry, making new christmas cards (cut the fronts off and put on a new cardstock back)

  • khobkhuncraft

    khobkhuncraft said 6 years ago

    woowww... AWESOME !! thx for sharing ^o^

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  • ricardj

    ricardj said 6 years ago

    I take all the greeting cards I've received and cut around the pictures in such as a way to make gift tags for next year....I put a hole in one corner and put ribbon thru. They are great looking!

  • sunkae

    sunkae said 6 years ago

    ***GrEaT IdEaS!***

  • TheKraftRoom

    TheKraftRoom said 6 years ago

    cool ideas! I love it.

  • skltnsinmycloset

    skltnsinmycloset said 6 years ago

    i like the lamp one the most. it looks like something i can do to cover some hideous lampshades

  • JaneCooney

    JaneCooney said 6 years ago

    Great ideas - thanks!

  • shopthinkingofU

    shopthinkingofU said 6 years ago

    so creative!

  • hingmade

    hingmade said 6 years ago

    Best idea is to use recyclable gift wrap ^^

  • Witchey

    Witchey said 6 years ago

    cleeeeever! this is so cute and creative! not to mention eco-friendly.

  • muddassar

    muddassar said 6 years ago

    too much fantastic cards Great way to use old cards and wrapping paper! Plastic Card

  • TheKatHouse

    TheKatHouse said 6 years ago

    Holidays are the most Joyous of times, yet I could never shake those bittersweet feelings I had, watching friends & family open gift wrapped presents. It is always extremely heartwarming to see the look of surprise & happiness, during our gift exchange, however, a dull sense of guilt always crept up inside me, as wrapping paper flew across the living room, aimed for the "Big Black Trash Bag" (just as much a Holiday tradition as Mom's Delicious Baked Ziti .) I would think about all that paper, the trees, not to mention the ENERGY used to produce, transport, & purchase it. All wasted. All the discarded wrapping paper would be on its journey to the landfill in a few days. It had served its purpose. Your Eco Friendly projects are a wonderful way to up-cycle wrapping paper! My thanks to everyone for their cool, creative up-cycling ideas. I will now be guilt free in 2011! Peace Kat Kory

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