Junk Mail to Flower Garden: How to Make Recycled Plantable Seed Tags

$25
1 Hour
Medium
If you're looking for a great project, this is one of my favorites. I recycled some of my junk mail to make my own paper tags, adding wildflower seeds so they can even be planted right in the ground to start your own flower garden!
These tags can be tied onto gifts (maybe a little pot, for planting!) or added to greeting cards to show your love of being green. They're also beautiful additions to wedding invitations and reception favors, ways to celebrate a new baby, or have a garden-themed party! After learning the technique for the first time, each tag only takes me about 2 minutes to make now.
Begin with an old blender, some of your pile of junk mail, small scraps of colored paper, wildflower seeds, a small framed screen (which I found at the hardware store), a plastic tub that the screen fits into, a cookie cutter, a sponge, a piece of wool felt, and some newspaper for drying your tags.
Tip: check garage sales and thrift stores to save money on your supplies. Don't use your food blender or cutters, because the inks from these papers should not end up in your smoothies! Supplies for this project were about $25 for me to get started, but each time you make paper in the future, it will cost you next to nothing.
Add plenty of water to your blender, and a few scraps of blue paper, and blend it well to create your paper pulp.
Set the screen in the bottom of your plastic container, and fill it with enough water that it covers the screen by about 1/2 inch. Set your cookie cutter on top of the screen - the water should come up about halfway, but not go over the top of the cutter.
Spoon a small amount of pulp into the cutter. Add other scraps of green paper if you wish (for an earthy look), and stir with your finger until you get an even layer of pulp inside the cutter. Sprinkle seeds on top. You can work one at a time, or fill multiple cutters. The amount of pulp will depend on the size of your cutter, and with a little bit of practice, you'll get a fill for exactly how much you need. Just be sure that there are no thin "holes" in the paper.
Then, lift the screen, allowing the water to drain out. Remove the cutter carefully, leaving a heart-shaped mass of pulp (or whatever shape you're using).
This next step seems confusing, but when you do it, you'll be amazed! Gently place a piece of wool felt over the pulp, and then place a dry(ish) sponge on top of the felt. Press most of the the water out of the tag through the screen, and absorb the water in the felt through the sponge. You may need to squeeze the excess water from your sponge more than once when you do this - the end result is that everything will be slightly damp, but not soaking wet. You'll know that enough water has been removed when you peel back the wool felt and the tag clings to the felt.
Finally, transfer the tags to your newspaper to dry by pressing the felt down on the paper. You will be squeezing the last bit of water onto the newspaper - the tags will automatically cling to whatever surface is the wettest, so you'll just need to squeeze more water into the paper than what's left in the felt. I never had any issues with the tags absorbing the newsprint ink, because the pulp you make will be slightly rough.
Allow the tags to dry - mine needed about 4 hours, but if your tags are slightly thicker, they may need longer. They'll peel right off the newspaper when they're dry.
If you have more questions about the process after reading these instructions, I invite you to check out my original blog post at the link below!

Adrianne Surian
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Cheryl Cheryl on Apr 19, 2015
    Great idea!!!!!! It must be a real pleasure to throw that junk mail in the blender!!!!!! I'm glad to see have some kind of use besides being carried from the mailbox to the garbage! Thanks

  • Christina Bevins Christina Bevins on Apr 19, 2015
    This may be a crazy question but what do you use them for? I love them though!!!

    • Adrianne Surian Adrianne Surian on Apr 20, 2015
      @Christina Bevins I'm a paper crafter so I use elements like this all the time - but that may not be for everyone. Anything with a "growing" theme is the perfect time to use them - so think, weddings, baby showers or birthday parties, and of course Earth Day. You can tie them onto gifts, use them in cardmaking, or attach them to party favors. Since the idea is that your gift recipient can take the tag, put it right out in their garden, and grow flowers that will remind them of your event, it's also a really pretty idea for things like memorials too. I mentioned previously, one year we attached them to pots and used herb seeds and gave them to my daughter's teachers for teacher appreciation week, since teachers really help our kids grow! It's not exactly a stand-alone craft, since once you make the tags, you still have to find the right reason to use them. :) But, the activity is great this week to do with older kids to talk about recycling.

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