DIY: Making stickers out of recycled paper

Used envelopes get new life with this fun, kid-friendly DIY project.

Credit: Amanda Wood

A fun afternoon project for the kids turns old scraps of paper from the recycling bin into fun stickers for art projects

Kids love to play with materials from the recycling bin. It’s a cheap and cheerful way to make all kinds of playthings. Here’s a quick and easy project that makes good use of all of those great patterns found on the inside of security envelopes. (Of course, you can use other cool-looking paper too.)


What you’ll need:

For the glue:

> 6 tbsp white vinegar

> 4 packages of unflavoured gelatin

> 1 tbsp flavouring such as peppermint, lemon or vanilla extract

For the stickers:

> foam paint brush

> security envelopes or other papers from the recycling bin (enough glue for about 20 envelopes)

> paper punch (I used a 2″ scalloped circle punch in the picture)

> sponge for moistening stickers


To make the glue:

Step one

Bring vinegar to a boil in a small pot

Step two

Add gelatin to the boiling vinegar and stir until dissolved. If you get lumps, just use a fine mesh strainer to remove them. The glue will still work!

Step three

Remove pan from heat and add flavouring. Stir until mixed and let cool slightly.


To make the stickers:

Step one

Take apart the envelopes so that they are flat and you have the outer envelope on one side and the inner envelope on the other side. Don’t worry about tearing the edges since you will use a paper punch to clean them up anyways.

Step two

Once the glue has cooled slightly, you can have the kids paint a thin layer onto the outside of the envelope with the foam brush so that the patterned side will show once the sticker is used. My two-year-old did this part with me and I have to say that the glue was not always applied in a thin layer. The envelopes with thicker layers of glue still work, but take longer to dry.


Note: It’s important to use up the glue before it completely cools as it will get thicker and more difficult to spread.

Step three

Allow the glue to dry completely before using the paper punch to cut out your stickers. We found that each envelope made about a dozen two inch stickers. If you used a smaller punch, you’d get quite a bit more.

Step four

Now you are ready to get creative! I used a wet sponge on a plate for the kids to moisten the stickers rather than licking them. I think it’s a good idea since the outside of the envelope has been exposed to all kinds of germs and it’s unlikely that the inks are terribly healthy to ingest.


Amanda Wood makes handmade goods for the family home under the name Owl+Pussycat. As a mom of two active boys who is passionate about bringing DIY into the hands of children, she is always on the lookout for thrifty craft ideas to keep them busy. Blog | Etsy