paper scrap recycling

Today’s projects are ones that use up old bits of paper scraps I can’t bear to throw away. I save these pieces of paper (gift wrap, envelope liners, art papers, origami papers, etc.) and then wonder what can I do with them? I have covered pencils and jar lids to brighten them up a bit here. The jars are ones I have salvaged from the recycling bin and the pencils are just plain ones you can buy at a dollar store. The pencils would make a lovely gift especially if given in a matching box or pencil bag. The jars are great for organizing or gift packaging.


CLICK HERE for the full instructions for both the jar lids and covered pencils projects after the jump!


paper scraps
Mod Podge in matte finish
medium craft brush
jars with screw lids
plain wood pencils unsharpened

Instructions for jars

1. Wash jars thoroughly. Remove any labels with Goo Gone or similar product. To remove smells, soak in a bleach solution. Let dry.

2. Lay jar lid face down on the back of decorative paper and trace lightly with a pencil. Sketch a circle that is bigger (the height of the lid plus 1/4″) around the circle. You can use a round object to trace if you can find a similar one in size. Cut slits about 1/4″ apart that go right up the first pencil tracing. Coat inside circle with Mod Podge and adhere to lid. Press down thoroughly with clean fingers. Lay face down on surface and begin gluing strips in a clockwise direction. Coat 2 or 3 strips at a time and fold each one up and over the edge of the lid. Continue until all the strips are glued.

3. Turn lid over so pattern is facing up. Coat with Mod Podge to seal. Let dry and then screw onto jars.


Instructions for pencils

1. Cut a strip of paper that is 1″ by the length of your pencil before it’s sharpened. My pencils were 7″ long. Brush Mod Podge on the strip of paper. Lay pencil on one edge of paper, and then with clean fingers smooth down by rotating the pencil. You can roll on a flat surface to make sure paper is adhered. Brush a little Mod Podge under edge of paper if needed. Let dry 1/2 hour before sharpening pencils. Try all different patterns for these, they look great when displayed together.



What great ideas! I’m a bit of a scrap paper addict so these are perfect projects :)

Jessica White

Cute idea, it would be perfect for a wedding! I also apply this technique to light switch covers, it adds a nice pop here and there in the space.


I love those jars!! So cute. I think that the pencils are great, too. Thanks for the awesome DIY!


They’re beautiful, but– wouldn’t the glued-down strips on the inside of the jar lid interfere with screwing the lid onto the jar?


so cute and easy! I always use regular Mod Podge but I really like the matte version on these projects.


i haven’t used Mod Podge for a while. thanks so much for the reminder of what great stuff it is.
(and what a great kid’s craft project)!
thanks for the light switch cover idea, Jessica White.


The jars look GREAT, can’t wait to try this out…I better hold off on my recycling to stock up on jars!

kate so

This is fantastic! I can’t wait to do this. I’m already dreaming up where I could use these. Thank you1


I have drawers filled with scraps from papers I made lampshades with that I cannot through away, as well as I have a cupboard filled with jars. Thank you for my next rainy day project at home.

Sophie @ Century Finds

This has me wondering if I can steal some time away from my beloved Rustoleum to get into the Mod Podge! Because I really want to make those pencils, and then Jessica won my heart with the light switch cover comment ;-)


Just pair this up with the recipe for homemade citronella candles guest post and everyone can have beautiful, bug-free summer nights! :)


I’m a total novice here–what sort of bleach solution do I use? Do I just fill up the inside of the jars and let them sit for a few hours (or more?)? Is it then safe to fill the jars with cookies/candy? Thanks for bearing with my baby questions : )


I love this.

This many seem like a silly question, but I’ve never used Mod Podge before. Will the paper rip when you are sharpening the pencil?


What a nice simple project with really satisfying results. Next time I need to calm my nerves from sewing frustration, I’ll take a nice little arts and crafts break.



these look right up our street and so neatly made, the jar lids are ace!


these look great! question- how durable will the result be? can I use for the jars I use for spice storage? will they withstand hand washing?


Love these! These will be perfect favors to go with crosswords at the Sunday Brunch after my wedding next year!


I think it will work fine as far as durablity, ability to screw lid, sharpen pencils as long as the paper you use isn’t super thick and you make sure the paper smooths over every ridge and every inch is sealed modge podge. the paper should fit like a pair tight spandex shorts.


this is awesome! I love the pencils – so pretty! :)
just shared these on my blog.

have a lovely day! :)


Love the jars!! (I think your paper scraps might be cuter than mine…)

Elizabeth Edgerton

I’d love to try these, but I don’t live in the US and we don’t have Mod Podge> Can anybody describe what sort of glue it is?


I am so excited about this! I’ve been collecting jars for quite awhile and was wondering how to put cute paper on the lids! Thanks so much for the how-to.


Wow, what lovely ideas! I’d really like to use this with my glass jar I use for hot tea. Would it be a problem to use one of these lids if it’s being exposed to a bit of heat?


I cannot wait to try this with a box of No. 2’s I have stashed away somewhere in my desk. I, too, love beautiful paper and can’t bear to throw away scraps.

Little Monarch

oh wow this is a great idea! not only do i love paper but i cant bear to throw away jars and containers. great idea thank you.


For those of you who don’t have modge podge, I use something called matte varnish by liquitex. This should produce a similar result – a non glossy permanent solution that protects the surface. You can find it at any craft store where the acrylic paints are sold.
Happy Crafting! This looks like a fun back-to-school project!


Hey Laura…me and all my jars piled up all over the kitchen like this one.


how did you know that I had a multitude of jars hold bits and pieces just waiting to be beautified?!?


I love it! Do you put the mod podge on the lid and the paper? or just put it over the paper only?

annie chang

I love it. So creative….. Good idea for renew all office stuff.

That Girl, Ang

Oooooh I am going to do this with my many many jar collect as well as my CARPENTER’s pencils… yay! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

Jessica Jones

If there are two things I love, it’s Mod Podge and patterned paper. (Well, and coffee, but that’s not relevant here.) These are beeyootiful.


Maybe a bit surprising but I just purchased my first Mod Podge container last week and I haven’t opened it yet. These simple projects may just be the thing I was waiting for.


For smells in glass jars: vanilla is a natural deodorizer, so just swish a little vanilla extract with a little water in the jar and the smell disappears, plus it’s safe for food afterwards. I got this hint from Cosmopolitan magazine many many years ago, if you can believe it, and use it for glass or plastic containers. Quick and easy!!


hey, Tinabobina99 thanks for the tip! I’ve been looking for a solution to that problem! I am definitely excited to get rid of all my jar smells! haha!


Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to do this with all those jars sitting in my recycling bin…and those lovely bits of paper that I love so much.


I have a teetering pile of old glass jars and can never bear to part with gorgeous scraps too — perfect. Thanks for your gorgeous projects this week!


Love it!! So cute. Since I discovered Mod Podge I’m a total addict. Only that it’s not easy to get here in Spain.


I love this project! I was purchasing certain jars of preserves because I loved their lids so much. Now I can use any jar & lid. Great project, thanks!


Oooh, I have boxes of precious bits of paper I can’t throw away – your jar lids are lovely, what a great idea! thank you.


I remove smells and labels from jars by soaking them in a sink filled with warm water and a couple cups of white vinegar.

Nerissa Alford

Thank you very much for the tutorial. I have lots of scrap paper that I just can’t throw away & these projects are lovely!

bink & boo

What an awesome tutorial. I have a gang of baby food jars and now I know just what to do with them. Thank you so much!


Fun ideas!

I could spend the day just covering various items in my home. By the way, you can use white glue and a bit of water to make your own modge podge.


What a great project to do since I have all this extra gift of time since I lost my job…thanks for the sparks of creativity! so much FUN!!!


I’m definitely using the pencil idea for my wedding; we have little notes for guests to fill out with advice and well-wishes and this is a perfect way for the pencils to be cute and functional! I might even try it on some pens too, just to see how it looks.
I love this site so much, you guys are amazing!


What a cool idea!!! I was wondering how you did the lids so neatly… I’ll have to give this a try!

Tania - Jet Designs

Love it – found you through modpodgerocks – great idea as I have been keeping jars and I hate the lids – and was wondering what to do – now I have found it!!


I just re-purposed some glass pickle jars but couldn’t get the lids covered the way I wanted. This is a very cute idea. I posted a link on my blog Thanks!


It is just a fabulous idea! I was thinking of spray painting the jar lids, but this is so much better! Thanks for sharing.



I love this idea for the pencils – so cute and so many possibilities! I plan on making these for a baby shower, but when I have tried a few practice pencils, I find that the paper tears when I sharpen the pencils. Any suggestions or advice about how to fix this is muchly appreciated!



may i know where to find those paper scraps ?? These design aren’t familiar at Malaysia ~ i like those paper scraps shown here. they are so vintage and cool .

Sandie Greene

I love the idea of using up scrap paper. My grandkids will love these pencils as well as using pens and using season themes. Thanks for helping us


I finally got a chance to try this last night and it worked amazingly!!! I can’t wait to use this on my craft storage jars, candle lids and everything else I possibly can!!!


This is sooo cool I can’t wait to get creating I’m saving all my jam jars from now on!!!


I did the pencil project, and it worked beautifully. I didn’t even need scrapbook paper – I just printed some digital scrapbook designs on regular computer paper. I also added mod podge after to seal everything and protect the paper. They’re super cute! Thanks for sharing this!

Yolanda Crisostomo

Hi! This is yet another way I can use the baby food jars we have left over from my grandson’s 1st birthday party, we saved so many of them, LOL! I also love the pencil wrapping! Cool and nifty ideas! I posted this on my blog with a link back here. Thanks!

VA in Virginia

Ohhh, I love this! Would be a great way to display on my snack shelf…different kinds of nuts and cereals in glass jars with colorful lids.



This DIY idea is really great! The thing that made this attractive for me was the papers they’re really cute!Where’d you get them??


This is great! Thanks for the inspiration and great instructions. By the way, where did you get your round pencils? I’m looking for a bulk supply in 2B and can only find HBs. Anyone got any suggestions? Thanks again!!


The greatest little jars for this project can be found at CVS Pharmacy(I live in Florida) in the store they sell cute little jars of gala apples, peaches,and mixed fruit for just $1. The fruit is yummy, but I really love the jars! I’ve been using them for scrapbook and craft supplies. They’re round jars with a nice flat area in front (great for labels) . I hope you have a CVS! An apple a day is great, but a cute jar is a bonus!


So fantastic! As soon as i get to try this I will blog it and put a link back to this post, I’m excited! Thanks for the ideas!
Keep an eye out for your shout out!
<3 Melissa

Barbara Boughton

What type of paper was used for the jar lids? Does contact paper work as well?

Ashley C

Did this today! Thanks so much for the great idea and perfect instructions. :)


They are so cute!! Such a brilliant way of recycling wrapping paper and spending some fun quality time with my daughter! We do a lot of professional recycling of all sorts of materials for our work and try and live in an eco-friendly way, but sometimes it’s easy not to see simple little things, like using scrap paper to decorate things. Thanks! :)

Nancy NElson

Those are some very cute ideas. I’m like you I can’t stand to throw away a perfectly good useful piece of scrapbook paper. Thanks so much for sharing.


Can you then use the lid for making jam? I too love those cute fruit jars and have been recycling them with cooked jam. Been looking for a way to cover the lids. Think this would be safe? Also, I didn’t see a response about what woukd happen if the lid was wet/washed. So hope it will work. If not, any ideas? Cover with fabric??


hmm, i wonder if i could do this with fabric too? should work. has anyone tried that yet???


This is the perfect DIY Christmas gifts I waa looking for, I want to teach my kids that giving is better than receiving, I am gonna have them start making these and give them to teacher’s, mom’s on the softball team, and to the church. Thank you for the great idea. Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season

Deanna Dietrich

What a fabulous idea. I put together Christmas baskets for my neighbors every year and am always looking for ideas for homemade things. These will be perfect for them. Thanks!

Holly Hibbs

I use craft glue. Do you think Mod Podge works better?