Monday, March 19, 2012

Available Materials Lab: Coffee Sleeves as Rubbing Plates

The "Available Materials Lab" is the section of my blog all about tips and tricks for making fabulous things using materials you can acquire easily and cheaply, or may even already have in your home.

I noticed a while ago that those paper sleeves you get with a cup of coffee frequently seem to have really interesting textures embossed into the surface, presumably to make them better able to protect your hand from the heat.  Since I have recently been very excited about finding different materials to turn into rubbing plates that can be used with various media on fabric, I thought coffee sleeves might be a perfect example of something that can produce an attractive, generic looking background pattern. 

  • Coffee sleeves from wherever you get your coffee - collect however many you need to make a nice sized rubbing plate. 
  • Some sort of substrate to glue the sleeves onto - I used a cardboard mailer I found in the recycle bin. 
  • Basic white glue. Hot glue or a glue stick might work as well if that's what you have on hand.
I have a giant pile of coffee sleeves from Dunkin Donuts lattes.  Fortunately, now that I'm laid off I'm consuming far less of those!
This is a ridiculously easy project!  Just spread some glue on the backs of your coffee sleeves:


And arrange them together on your backing material.  The pattern will probably not line up perfectly, and you will pick up the line between the sleeves when you do your rubbings, but that's part of what makes these found-object rubbings look so great! 
If corners start to lift up, slap a big coffee table book on the whole thing.

You'll be surprised how beautiful the rubbings you produce using coffee sleeves can be! 
A small sample rubbing using white oil paint stick on blue silk.
Gold and maroon paint sticks on fabric that already had a polka dot design - a little busy perhaps?


  1. This definitely looks easy enough to do--I'm curious what you would do with these once the rubbings were done. Do you have a picture of a finished project that incorporates them?


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