While packing for my upcoming move, I have of course had a lot of fragile things that need to be well cushioned for the travel. This meant a trip to Sam’s Club for a big box of bubble wrap. I used up the last of it recently and upon reaching the end of the bubble wrap I discovered the cardboard tube that had been at the center of it. I was set to just toss it but the more I thought about it the more I felt surely there was a way I could repurpose the tube. It was a nice size and pretty sturdy. I took some time to think about it and figured out the perfect way to turn it into something useful! With a ~3-inch diameter, this tube is (in my opinion) a really great size for pen/pencil holders and also for makeup brush holders! Because I have several mini makeup brushes with shorter handles that tend to get lost in taller holders, I decided to make one for the standard brushes and a shorter one for the minis, and with the third length of tube a pen/pencil holder.
I started out by cutting the tube into three sections – two that are a bit taller (and almost the same length) and one that is a bit shorter. I held some makeup brushes and pencils up to the tube to determine where I wanted to make the cuts and marked them with pencil. I used a serated knife to cut them by hand, but if you have a table saw and want to zip through the cutting a lot faster by all means you can do that. This particular tube is not made of the thickest cardboard so it was easy to get through with the knife but if you were using a heavier tube (like mailing tubes perhaps) the saw may be preferable. Either way, just remember to be careful while cutting, and keep those fingers out of the way of the blade. I didn’t quite get my cuts perfectly straight around the tube, but close enough it wasn’t a problem.
Once I had the three sections, I then traced the outside diameter on another piece of sturdy cardboard (I used a mailing box that I didn’t need for anything else) to make a base for each tube. I used my hot glue gun to glue the circles to the tubes. You could use a different glue but the hot glue sets within minutes – if you use something else you’ll need to give it plenty of time to dry/cure before moving on, and clamp the pieces together in some way to ensure a solid join. Once the glue set I used an x-acto knife to carefully trim away any uneven sections of the base circles as well as any glue that had squished out when pressing the bases to the tubes. Voila – one tube of cardboard is now three cardboard cups!
I primed each of the cups with three layers of white gesso as per the instructions on my jar of gesso. This is probably not necessary, but it depends on how you plan to decorate the cups and how picky you are about things. I felt like priming with the gesso would give me a better base for truer paint colors when I painted them and the gesso prevents the cardboard from just soaking up the paint, hence the decision to prime.
Once the final layer of gesso was dry, I moved on to painting. I used water based acrylic paints mixed to the colors I wanted and applied a couple coats, letting each one dry before applying the next, till I was happy with the coverage. (Three coats on the light blue, four on the red.) I let the last layer of paint dry completely then moved on.
Being me, I wanted to accent the painted cups with glitter. I considered other options – lace, rhinestones, free hand painting some flowers, stenciling etc – but good ol’ glitter was calling my name. I decided I wanted to do glitter gradients. For the blue ones I just wanted top to bottom. I mixed some craft glue (most important thing here is just choosing glue that dries clear) with water just to thin it out a little to make it easier to work with. It starts to dry fairly quickly so you need to work fast with this part. I used a paint brush to brush this glue all around the top of the cup and used downward strokes toward the bottom – the whole cup does not need to be covered and you don’t need to be precise since the aim is a gradient effect anyway, but I made sure to take the glue almost all the way to the bottom of the cups. Once the glue was all around the cup, I carefully poured glitter, working in small sections, along the top edge then just blew on it to get rid of the excess and create the gradient. Yes, this part is messy and means glitter everywhere. Everywhere. You can minimize the glitter mess by doing this outside if weather permits or over a sink if you have to work inside. Or if you’re like me and the glitter does not bother you, just keep on working at the table and don’t worry about it. 😉 For the red cup I wanted the gradient to be on both the top and bottom of the cup so I worked in the same manner but started with the bottom edge and only applied the glue about half way down the length of the cup from both bottom and top edges, so there is a heavier concentration of glitter on the ends but minimal glitter in the middle.
Once the glitter was applied I let the glue dry completely. Then I again mixed some water and craft glue, this time just a tiny bit thinner than before, to make a sealer to seal the glitter onto the cups so it will not come off when they are handled. I used a paint brush to dab the watered down glue over the heavier glittered edges, then brushed lightly over the rest of the surface. I let that dry overnight then applied another layer to really be sure all that sparkly prettiness is locked on there!
At this point they could be done, but I felt like the very top edges needed a little something to finish them off. I applied some glitter tape to finish that edge. Then I really wanted them to have a glossy finish, so I gave each cup a couple layers of lacquer to finish them up.
The final result is, in my opinion, very pretty. 😊
I got my second box of bubble wrap to finish my packing. I will have to think up something else fun to do with the tube from that one!
Until next time. xoxo