With summer fast approaching, I find the need to keep more lists than usual. There are lists for items needed at the farmers market, and things needed at the grocery store, ongoing garden chores, and special outdoor projects. Then there are lists for the kids, like summer vacation activities, reading, and accomplishments. All of those things, coupled with the ongoing need for meal planning and kitchen organization, call for a good list pad that’s readily accessible.
I once had a great pad of paper for lists. It was magnetic and perforated down the center, allowing for two lists at the same time. When I had used all of the paper, I looked for another one just like it but came up empty handed. I decided to make one myself but improved upon it, using recycled materials. This one is refillable so when it runs out, you don’t have to toss the whole thing— just add more paper.
cardboard recycled from a cereal box, or chipboard
Scrap paper (use the blank backsides)
Decorative paper (a smallish scrap will do)
2 brass fasteners
Drill with 3/16” drill bit OR hole punch/awl.
Glue stick, tacky glue, X-acto knife or scissors, cutting mat
Cut a piece of cardboard 11” long and 4” wide. Starting at one end, measure and mark two lines across the cardboard. Place one 1.5” from the end, the other 2” from the end. With a craft knife, gently score along these lines, taking care not to cut all the way through. Then, carefully fold the cardboard down where the lines have been scored.
Cut your piece of decorative paper to approx 3.5” long by 5” wide. With a glue stick, completely cover the back surface of the decorative paper. Make sure to apply glue to all edges and corners. Lay your piece of cardboard on top of the decorative paper and begin to smooth the paper onto it.
Since the cardboard will be folded here, you want to make sure the paper won’t rip at the folds. To do this, fold the cardboard over as you glue, attaching the decorative paper around the folded corners as you press down.
Next, cut your scrap paper into 8.5” long by 4” wide pieces. I cut the sheets until I had a stack of paper roughly a half-inch thick. This will make for a decent-sized pad of paper that won’t need to be refilled too often. Now, you’ll be splitting those trimmed sheets of paper up the middle vertically. Find the middle of the sheet (by folding or measuring) and cut from the bottom, stopping 1.5” from the top. The part of the paper that remains intact will be what gets tucked under the decorative flap of the pad.
Stack all the sheets of paper together and tuck them under the flap. Make 2 marks, evenly spaced on the flap, each centered over a side of the split paper. Using a 3/16” drill bit, drill two holes where you made those marks. Drill straight through the flap, the stack of paper, and the back of the pad as well. You can use a little low-tack tape or some clamps to keep things in place while you do this. (Consider putting a block of wood or a phone book under your surface, to minimize the risk of drilling through your table).
Note: if you’re using a hole punch, take care to have all the sheets of paper and the cardboard line up with each other as you punch the holes. You can punch a few sheets at a time.
Use some tacky glue to secure two magnets to the back. Once the glue is set, put in the fasteners and secure them. (Don’t put the fasteners in the holes until the glue dries, or the magnets will slide towards the fasteners.)
Done! Now you can keep all kinds of lists. When you run out of paper, simply remove the brass fasteners, cut some new scrap paper to size, and refill it.
Be creative with the design—embellish the decorative flap with cut paper, paints, buttons, an illustration, or whatever suits you.
Amy Ambroult is an artist and metalsmith who lives in Massachusetts. Her days are spent raising children, chickens, and vegetables. Her evenings are spent in her workshop. She teachers her two girls craft, art, and design, and looks forward to telling them more about when she sailed around the world, lived in a tent, and climbed mountains in South America. Amy writes about making, doing, and inspiration at Elemental, and sells her jewelry and metal craft in her Etsy shop.