Braided Brown Craft Paper Tray DIY

5 Materials
3 Days
Have you ever experienced an aha moment when out shopping and think, "oh I can probably make something like that!" That's what happens to me anytime I'm looking at baskets. Every time I look at them - the woven type - the ones that look like someone has braided the fibers into quite a lovely, but simple, pattern. You know, the three strands type! This thought has been going on for a while now. And I'd say to myself, I want to try to make that! Well, I finally did!
Begin by cutting off the lids of a cardboard box - one that could look like a tray. This box is 16"x13"x3.5". Measure the center inside bottom area to cover with part of one of the short lids that you cut off to fill in with. Add tacky glue to center and place the measured cut off piece in-between the inside bottom flaps to make the bottom even and as flat as possible.
Then, roll out enough brown paper to cover the box, as if wrapping a present and cut off. Cut out the corners, left, right, leaving a little extra paper on the side edges to wrap around the corners. Spread tacky glue on bottom paper around the box pressing down in place, smoothing out to the edges.
Next spread glue on the longer sides, overlapping the paper on the corrugated edges, and wrapping the extra paper around the sides, up over the edges and down to the bottom of the tray, smoothing out - one side at a time. Continue spreading glue on the shorter sides and wrapping the bow, as before. Let dry for several hours. Most of the glue wrinkles should disappear.
To make the paper tubes:
1. Roll out the brown craft paper and using a pencil and yard stick, measure out four inch widths along paper. Then cut out at least thirty paper strips. Next, take a skewer stick and place on the corner edge of paper at an angle.

2. Place the end tip of the paper over the skewer and start rolling the paper with fingers pressed down on the table first.

3. Once you've started rolling the paper, lift up the tube as your left fingers are controlling the roll while your right hand is rolling the stick and tightening the tube.

4. Just before finishing the roll, add glue to the corner end tip and continue rolling until reaching the end to seal.
Make approximately thirty long tubes to make the continuous braid. Glue three tubes together on top of each other and clamp. Begin braiding one end tube over middle tube and inside opposite end tube. Repeat alternating outside tube over inside tube and then the other outside tube until reaching near the end.
Extend the tubes by adding glue to one end and inserting new tube.  All three tubes should be extended at the same time.
Continue braiding the tubes until you have used up all the tubes. Clamp off ends just in case you need to extend it more.
Once all the tubes are braided together, begin hot gluing on the braid at the top corner around the box. Use clamps to hold in place while the glue is drying. For a cleaner look, I ended up cutting the braids and gluing the cut tubes together, as I finished each row. In hindsight, instead of one continuous braid, I would make separate braids for each row around the box.
There should be enough braids left to create two handles to hot glue onto the short sides of the tray. If not, make additional braids for the handles and glue on.
I love how the tray turned out! Just don't put anything heavy in it to carry. It's for decorative purposes only.
I placed wrapping paper on the bottom of the tray for a decorative effect. I also covered the flaps that I first cut off, to place inside the tray to hold the decorative paper in place. I can switch out the paper design anytime for different occasions.
Makes for a lovely decorative look!

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Gail@Purple Hues and Me
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Frequently asked questions

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  2 questions
  • Connie Quine Connie Quine on Mar 13, 2018

    I saw this technique before using newspaper cut into the 4" strips, but I had a horrible time trying to roll those into tubes. Is the heavier craft paper easier to roll? I would love to try this!

  • Vickie Jung Vickie Jung on Apr 08, 2018

    Would it be possible to use paper bags from the grocery store. I Live in Oregon and plastic bags are longer used in most towns.


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4 of 43 comments
  • Joanie Joanie on Aug 17, 2020

    Gail: This is the ultimate of projects I've seen in a Longgggggggg time. What a great talent........your ideas are overwhelming. They are so economical, realistic with beauty and creativity. I love them!!

  • AndradeTea AndradeTea on Feb 18, 2021

    Looks like A LOT of work ... but wow. How creative is that??? And it's so cute! Talk about a great re-use of materials!