Craft Ideas for Kids: Make a Funny Pig and Other Animal Paperweights from Waste Sawdust

Figure-1: The Paperweights

The paperweights made of clay and sawdust
The paperweights made of clay and sawdust

The Paperweights

A paperweight is a very small accessory on ones study table. Most of us, who live in places where a table fan is a must while working, are acquainted with a small but heavy material made usually of glass with colorful designs in it to keep loose paper sheets in place when the fan is on. Most of these paperweights, like some of those shown in the picture in figure-2 are really beautiful and can be considered as pieces of art. Some of these paperweights may be very expensive as well. However, at times people also use many alternatives. If one visits any typical Indian government office where a lot of paper works are done, for example a railway office, a post office or a site office of a construction project, one can even see officials using broken pieces of bricks and stones, a broken lock or anything that is readily available with a small size and some weight to serve the purpose as paperweights. In this hub, I shall discuss how to make very strong paperweights which are not only beautiful in their aesthetic presentation, but also easy to make with waste products and commonly available materials. The typical paperweight I am discussing here is made from a mix of waste sawdust, ordinary garden clay and carpenter adhesive. The paperweights I have presented in figure-1 show some animal shaped structures that will not only keep your desk organized by keeping things from flying away, these may also attract attention of your visitors towards your activity of recycling and reuse of so called “waste” materials.

Picture-2: Some paperweights available in stores

Pictures compiled from google images by the author with the help of microsoft paintbrush.
Pictures compiled from google images by the author with the help of microsoft paintbrush.


Sawdust: The Basic Raw Material-1
Sawdust: The Basic Raw Material-1


Ordinary Garden Soil: The Basic Raw Material-2
Ordinary Garden Soil: The Basic Raw Material-2


The Carpenters Adhesive
The Carpenters Adhesive

Materials Needed:

One only needs to collect three basic raw materials for this craft project. Those are,

(1) Some sawdust: One may collect a bag full of sawdust from a carpenter’s workshop. Alternatively, one may use rice bran or dry grasses cut into small pieces or anything that is light weight, fibrous and safe to use. We can also use torn or finely cut cloth pieces collected from a tailor’s shop. I would prefer sawdust or rice bran for the texture I get when the work is done.

(2) Some garden clay: Just use one fourth of the volume of the sawdust. The purpose is to give the paperweights an earthen look. Using more clay would make the paperweights too heavy and brittle.

(3) Carpenters adhesive: This will bind the sawdust with the clay tightly and make the product strong and hardy. My paperweights are so strong that even if they fall down from the table they do not get damaged. Some typical brands of carpenters adhesive we get in India are Favicol, Vamicol and so on. These are white colored adhesives that become transparent when dried, so that the original color of the sawdust and clay do not get affected.

Figure-6: Drying the Pig paperweight

The Pig Paperweight: It needs support when drying
The Pig Paperweight: It needs support when drying

Figure-7: Drying the tortoise paperweight

The Tiny Tortoise. Dry it in a piece of waste paper. It will prevent the paperweight from sticking with the ground
The Tiny Tortoise. Dry it in a piece of waste paper. It will prevent the paperweight from sticking with the ground

Figure-8: Drying the Frog paperweight

The Process of Making Paperweights with Sawdust and Clay:

The process is so simple that even a five year old can make these.

Just soak the saw dust with water and drain properly. This is done to reduce the amount of adhesive required for the purpose and to make it easier to handle the mix of clay and adhesive conveniently. In order to drain the wet sawdust properly, just soak it with water and keep the soaked sawdust on a piece of newspaper for 10 minutes. The excess water will drain away or absorbed properly in the sawdust. Now, take a small container or a bowl or anything that can help mixing sawdust with clay. Just mix the clay with the sawdust and some adhesive (do not add too much adhesive as it may create difficulties while making the paperweights) properly and make a semi solid mix of the matter suitable to form structures. In order to test if the mix is properly done, just try to make a ball of the mix and hold it on your palm. If the ball breaks apart, it is too dry and you add some more adhesive. If the ball becomes flat, it is probably too watery. Add some more soil and saw dust. Once you get the material ready for use, wash your hands properly with water wipe properly. Then take some cooking oil and apply on your hands to make your hands oily. An oily hand will not stick to the mix and the work will be easier. But oil is not a necessary ingredient.

Now, try to take some of the mix in your hand and try to give it some shape. Keep the shape you have prepared on a piece of dry paper (newspaper) and let it dry till they look dry. It may take 2-3 days to get your creation completely dry. You can even place these in sunlight and the adhesive would not allow it to crack.

How to make a Pig?

In order to make a pig, I first made a bigger cylinder for the tummy and made two nostrils on the narrower end of the cylinder. In order to make these nostrils, I just oiled the back of a pen and pressed two holes on the narrow end of the cylinder. Then I made four smaller cylinders to make the legs and fixed those with the tummy part. That is all I did and the final product is as seen in Figure-6 and Figure-9. When I made the pig, I kept the legs up till they dry properly. Once dried, the pig was able to stand on his legs. The movie attached shows the comprehensive process.
The frog, the tortoises etc, all the paperweights I have made look fantastic as paperweights and I am very happy that some of these were actually made my son following me on this activity. My husband used one of these in his office and we have gifted a couple of these to our friends. We really address a lot of inquiries about all these paper weights and our friends get surprised to see how strong they are. Although, the sawdust content makes these paperweights lighter than what they would have been, had they been made of clay alone, the weight is sufficient for the purpose of their creation. One may color these items, but I prefer as they are.

The readers may try to create may other things and do let me know how it comes out. Please share your views in the comments section.

How we made an animal paperweight video

Figure-9: The pig paperweight after being dried completely

One can always add a pair of ears to the pig
One can always add a pair of ears to the pig

Figure-10: All paperweights we had prepared with clay and sawdust

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Hariom Singhal profile image

Hariom Singhal 3 years ago from INDIA (Haryana) SAMPLA

Good hub with detail information.

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