Paper is a surprisingly expensive commodity, with a 500-count ream costing at least $5-6 in most office supply stores. Specialty papers are even more expensive, starting around 10-25¢ for an individual sheet. If you do a lot of paper crafts, consider purchasing the majority of your material at garage sales -- you'll find it much more affordable. What's more, you may enjoy the challenge of having to make do with what you've got, since you can't exactly predict what you'll find in someone's junk!
Use pages from books as great starting places for your crafts. Cut out squares for unique origami, or fold the pages into envelopes as a creative way to send out invitations or thank-you letters. Paper mache is great with newspaper, but thin book pages work just as well, if you don't have a subscription to a paper. Or you can write blackout poetry -- just scribble out all but a few words so that what is visible reads like a poem.
While you're buying up books to use the pages, don't neglect those amazing paperback book covers. Think of the great collages you can put together for a female friend, just from using all those drawings of Fabio from trashy romance novels! Or you can make fantasy-themed wallpaper for a child's room, science fiction bookmarks for geeky friends, and more serious artworks using covers as inspiration.
Half-used rolls of crunched and crinkled wrapping paper are no fun to crush into the garbage can, so you may actually spot quite a few of these at garage sales. Wrapping paper can be flattened and used as specialty scrapbooking paper, or you can enhance and emphasize the crinkled look for something more stylized.
Coloring books make great interactive wallpaper. You may not want to try this with younger children, as they will start to think they can scribble on any walls, but older children may appreciate getting to use their crayons in a new and creative way. Securely fashion the removed pages to a wall and let them have at it! Another good way to use coloring books is as templates for art involving silhouette shapes; just cut out the images on the lines, then trace them into dark paper for an easily recognizable silhouette.
Pretty much everyone has a subscription in their lifetime to one or more magazines, and the glossy pages of these publications are wonderful for use in collages. One great craft is to purchase something made of unfinished wood, then use Mod Podge to secure and seal a collage of magazine pictures across its entire surface.
Some people toss greeting card odds and ends into the free or cheap box, because they like to match their stationary. This is the perfect opportunity to grab some inexpensive bases for your own greeting cards! Even if you just use them as templates, these are great to buy at garage sales, because on their own, cards can run between $2 and $5 at a grocery store. You can also buy up envelopes for everyday or crafty uses.
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