Upcycled Art Desk Organizer using Vintage Spring Basics

Posted by Nancy Hanttula

21 February, 2014 - , ,

Hello Maja Design fans and friends!  Nancy Hanttula here again, this week to share an upcycled project that I recently finished for my craft desk.  I created an organizer to hold some of my most frequently used pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and brushes.  To create this holder, I used the gorgeous Vintage Spring Basics paper collection.


Here is a photo of the finished organizer full of my pens and pencils.

Art Desk Organizer

And here is a photo of the finished piece before I filled it up.

front view 1 of empty organzier

To create this organizer, I used a drink holder from one of our local Sonic drive-ins. I have had it in my office for quite some time just with this intention in mind.

I would like to mention….that with the drink holder in it’s upright, put together position, because of the way it folds into itself, I marked the sections that would be showing with a “C” for cover, meaning I would want to cover that particular section and on the bottom a “DC” for don’t cover, so that I would know that I wouldn’t need to cover that section because it wouldn’t be showing. When you see the photos of the holder flat later in this post, you may see the marking “C” or “DC” and that was to help me know which parts will actually be seen when put together.

Drink Carrier

To cover the individual pieces of the container, I used the same technique that I used when I created the map of the United States in my project ….”There’s No Place Like Home” …. you can see that post by clicking HERE … but basically,  I outlined the shape on the cardboard that I wanted to trace with a dark colored pen,

trace the piece to be covered

traced over it with tracing paper,


then flipped it over and colored over the lines with a pencil,

flip over and draw over lines with pencil

flipped it back over, and retraced the pattern onto the patterned paper that I wanted to adhere to the cardboard.

flip over and redraw the pattern onto the patterned paper

Then I cut it out, inked the edges, and adhered it to the cardboard using A LOT of Tombow permanent adhesive.

how each section is covered

Here is a photo of 2 of the finished sides of the organizer once all my shapes had been adhered.

side 2 coverdOnce I had finished covering the organizer, the fun began.

covered side

I gave a lot of thought into how I wanted to decorate this piece.  I love to add a lot of dimension and texture to my projects….but I knew that this was a piece that was going to get a lot of handling, so with that in mind, I decided that instead of adding a lot of extra dimension, why not do some stenciling and inking AND why not use up something that I had amassed a huge quantitiy of over the years and really seldom ever used.  What was that? you ask.  Well, it is RUB-ONS.  I LOVE Rub-ons.  I have so many of them…but I almost never use them.  Honestly, I forget that I even have them most of the time.  AND, in my experience, they ruin so easily.  So I pulled out this huge accordion-style paper organizer that I bought just to organize my rub-ons a few years back and just started sifting through my stash.  Well, I am happy to report that I have a gold-mine of rub-ons and yes, quite a few were stuck inside their own packaging beyond use….but I found so many that were not.


I started by stenciling.  Using just some ordinary acrylic paint and a Tulip brand stencil.  I like the Tulip stencils because they have an adhesive back and lend perfectly to the use of paints.

embellishing the paper

And then I started in on the rub-ons.  I guess, the hard part of this was knowing when to stop.  I love color…and I think I achieved exactly the amount of color that makes my heart and soul sing!  Another reason why I love the Maja Design papers so much is how easily they adapt to the use of bright color….they just make the color so much more vibrant to me.

close-up of stenciling and rub-ons

Here are some photos of the finished sides of the organizer with the stenciling, the rub-ons, and some extra ribbon and button trim I added.

side one embellished (flat)

I bought this amazing chicken wire on a roll from Hobby Lobby.  I cut it with my button shank and stapled and hot-glued it to a few places.

close-up of side one

Now, I would like to add that there are 2 areas on this divider….2 small flaps that if you look at the photos that are of the flattened organizer you can see them in the lower right bottom corners.  I had to carefully add rub-ons to these areas by cutting them in half and lining them up as best as I could.

rub-on cut in half

And as far as the fork, knife, and spoon rub-on (that was from Michael’s dollar area) I decided that this organizer could easily be used by placing 4 large cups into the dividers and filling them up with plastic silverware for parties such as baby showers or birthday parties..

spoons and forks

.and that side would be perfect for that.

napkins & knives

Using some basic Mason jars, I spray-painted them, used a bit of sand-paper to age them up a bit, and added some chalkboard tags from The Vinyl Wall.  These chalkboard tags could easily be changed to read pens, watercolor pencils, paintbrushes, etc. as well.

close-up of ribbon and buttons and rub-ons

Okay….once the divider was embellished to my liking, and instead of using the mason jars, I used another upcycled idea …. I teach an art class at my workplace once a week…and I save a lot of the empty toilet paper cardboard rolls for various projects that we do….well, I shoved a bunch of them into the organizer.  This way, I could easily organize the sections with my supplies, and actually giving me much less wasted space.  Here is the before:

using empty toilet paper rolls as dividers

And here is the after:

all filled up

So, here is side one (empty)

front view 1 of empty organzier

Here is the 2nd side:

front and side view of empty organizer

Here is the back side/or front side depending on which way you like it:

back view of empty organizer

And the last remaining side:

side 4 empty

So, there you go.  I hope that I have inspired you to look at something perhaps a bit differently and I challenge you to create your own upcycled masterpiece.

The Vintage Spring Basics papers used for this project included:  6th of May front and back; 3rd of March front and back; 5th of May; 7th of May back.

Other supplies used for this project included:  chalk ink from Prima Ingvild’s Shabby Tote, Garden Grass, Old Rose, Vintage Pink, Teal Damask, Lime Pie, Cold Ice; various rub-ons from Kaisercraft, BoBunny, CTMH, Stampin’ Up, stencil’s from The Crafter’s Workshop and Tulip; acrylic paint from Apple Barrel and Plaid; Tombow Permanent Adhesive; wooden buttons from Prima; ribbon from Webster’s pages and from my personal stash; buttons from my personal stash; chicken wire from Hobby Lobby; & Aleene’s Tacky Glue. Misc: Mason Jars, Chalkboard tags from The Vinyl Wall, White chalk ink pen from Chalk Ink, Krylon spray paint in Blue Ocean Breeze. and sandpaper.

Thanks so much for looking! Wishing you a super creative weekend! Hugs!

1` A A Nancy-sign (1)



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