Thoughts on newspaper weaving

As you have probably seen I went through a stage of weaving newspapers. There are some beautiful videos and websites from Russia, where there are brilliant experts at this craft giving tutorials. I spent many hours watching the videos and trying to listen and watch how the paper sounds and reacts. Was it strong, did it sound like wicker or was it just solid. I am a fool to myself, I always want my handmade things to be strong, survive any sort of handling but I also want it to feel natural and handmade.


One of my newspaper baskets with lid. I make the separate liner and lace decor from recycled fabrics.

These are the things that I noticed when making newspaper woven objects:

The finer and tighter that you can roll your newspaper/magazine sticks, the stronger the feel to your weaving. Also it makes it easier to weave neatly if your sticks are tight.

The only way I got an object to feel and sound like wicker was to varnish the sticks before weaving. This took forever as each stick was varnished individually and had to be dried before I could use it. Then you have to be careful that you don’t weave too tight or the varnish will crack.

I did paint, individually, the sticks with watered down, 50 household matt paint and 50 water. Wove the sticks into a pot, PVA glued then varnished. This didn’t work as well. You have to keep the sticks pliable and damp as the paint really dried them out. Very messy.

I tried all ways, and seeing I don’t speak Russian, and I can’t find the die/varnish in the UK that they die their newspaper sticks with so I went back to basics.


Recycled fabric liner with lace, ribbon and some beads.

Forget Wicker. You are weaving a paper product. I have sewing machine covers, baskets and pots that have lasted for at least 3 years now, that I have woven from newspapers. I have dusted them, and wiped them down with a damp cloth and they still look like they did when I first made them. My cats have slept in them and on them, I have stored alsorts in them and they haven’t fallen apart, cracked or looked disgusting. They have gone through winters in the shed, hot summers in the house and still do what I wanted them to do.

I personally don’t like the different colours, but I have shown how I painted white baskets in one of my tutorials using PVA glue here. I like my paper weaving to look like wood, which is how the paper started in the first place. Therefore I weave the paper into the basket and then hand it over to my partner who uses the Ronseal Quick Dry Woodstain, silk or satin (I did’t like how the matt finish looked). He painted the projct twice to make sure that all the little bits were covered.

To finish and make them special I like to decorate with beads, lace, ribbons etc and recycled fabric to make a pretty liner.


I just hot glued the lace and flower onto this little pot.

I love newspaper weaving, and enjoy peoples faces when you tell them what the beautiful basket they are about to buy is made from i.e local rag, free paper or tabloid, the written word can be beautiful, even today!!!!!!!




Painting My Newspaper Baskets

I finished weaving the three large newspaper baskets that I needed for some of my fabric stash.
This tutorial shows you how I finished them.

Materials used:
PVA wood glue or white glue, very cheap and easy to use. I dilute the PVA, one part water to one part PVA glue.
Primer or undercoat.
Quick Dry Satin Paint. (Look for paints that are water based, these only need soap and water to clean the brushes. The oil based paints are messy, very smelly, need spirits to clean the brushes and take ages to dry properly on these baskets)

When I had finished weaving the basket (see my tutorial) and cut off all of the excess uprights on the top, I painted about 2″ all round the top, inside and out with some of the diluted PVA glue. Making sure that I got some glue into the holes which were left after cutting the uprights. Leave to dry overnight. (This is the boring bit, the waiting!)

You will find , once the glue is dry, the newspaper has gone nice and hard and the top of the basket is secure. It is also very sturdy, even though there isn’t any glue anywhere else.


A full can shows how strong the newspaper weave is before any treatment.

The next step is to dilute some more PVA glue, one part glue to one part water, and paint the whole basket. I usually paint all of the inside of the basket, including the cardbaord base, going over the glue that has already dried at the top, then all round the outside of the basket, leaving the base until later. This way you can leave the basket standing upright to dry without the bottom sticking to everything. When you are painting, do it in a circular motion so that the glue gets into all the nooks and crannies of your weaving.


Mix one part water to one part pva glue

Leave to dry overnight, the next day turn the basket over and paint the bottom with some diluted glue.

Again, leave to dry.

Once dry you could leave the basket as it is, or you could give it a coat of clear quick dry varnish. I wanted my baskets white to match the shelves that they will be sitting on.

Painting the basket:

Before you paint the basket, with a coloured paint, you will need to give the paint a base to ‘sit’ on, otherwise you will have to do a lot of layers to cover the print of the newspaper.

I used a primer, or undercoat, that we had left over from decorating the house. This will give a chalky finish and something for the coloured paint to cling on to.

I did the same as I did with the glue layer, paint all of the inside and outside of the basket leaving the outside base until the basket was dry.


Primer or undercoat for a base coat before final colour

(You will still be able to see some of the newsprint through the primer, so don’t try and put it on too thickly)

Every time I do a layer of paint I leave it overnight to completely dry even though I am usually very impatient, it is worth it!!

Now for the finishing layer, I used a quick dry white satin paint, but you could use any colour you like, or have left from decorating.


Final coat using quick dry satin paint

Again using a circular motion with the paint brush get into all the holes, you won’t be able to cover everything inside the weaving, but once this layer is finished you won’t be able to tell that this basket was once a couple of old newspapers and a bit of cardboard!!!
When this layer of paint is dry, again overnight, the basket is finished. It is lovely and strong, the newsprint doesn’t show through and if it does get a little grubby you can use a damp cloth to wipe it over.


Finished basket

Now to paint my other two baskets to complete the set.


In the next tutorial I will show you a quick way of doing removable labels for the baskets.