You can go ahead and file this one under "random, but potentially useful tip." :)
Whenever I find I need new supplies or materials for a project, before I go out and buy them, I try to run through my mental list of stuff I already have that might be just the right thing for this project. If I can make something I already have work, then that's dollars, time and energy saved. A win, win, win in my book.
In this case, I needed a way to laminate some small bookmarks I was making as gifts for some friends. Paper bookmarks just don't hold up very well (even if they're printed on a heavier material like card stock), so I wanted to reinforce them. Now, I know that you can buy laminating sheets, but last time I checked, they're kinda pricey (at least more than I wanted to spend), and I didn't really want to drive to somewhere like Michaels or Staples just for that one item.
Cue internal brainstorming session...Hmm, what could I use for this? Oh, I know! Clear packing tape! These bookmarks are small enough - the paper will fit just fine sandwiched between tape strips. Right? Time for a test run...
I already had a roll laying around from our move back in June, so I had plenty to use - and it worked perfectly.
Want to know how? Oh you do? Great, 'cause I wrote up a little tutorial just for you :).
- The piece of paper you want to laminate
- Paper trimmer (easiest to use and most exact for straight cuts, but scissors can work too)
- Clear packing tape
- Exacto knife
- Cutting mat (or a cutting board if you don't have a mat)
Here is the set of bookmarks I wanted to laminate, printed out on a regular ole 8.5"x11" sheet of paper:
I designed them in Illustrator, but you can use any software (Word, PowerPoint, etc.) to design something like this. These bookmarks are for a Bible reading plan a few of us started recently (or will be starting).
Use the paper trimmer to cut them all out along the lines/borders:
Next, grab your packing tape and tear off a strip that is a little more than twice as long as the bookmark. Lay it sticky side up on your work surface, taking care to minimize the amount of fingerprints you leave (grabbing it by the edges works best). You don't want a big ole fingerprint in the middle of your laminated paper!
Carefully place the bookmark down on one end of the sticky side of the tape. To avoid bubbles, lay one edge down first, and gradually push the rest of the paper down onto the tape, smoothing it down with your fingers as you go. This can take a couple of tries to get the hang of, but it's worth it to avoid bubbles!
This is what my bookmark looks like sitting on the tape. It's hard to see since it's clear tape, so I added the arrow to point out one edge.
Now grab the far end of the tape by its edges and bring it towards the end where you placed the bookmark. *Beware of static cling!* Line up the edges, and begin smoothing the tape down on top of the paper. Again, start from one end and gradually use your fingers to push down the tape from one end to the other to avoid bubbles.
Here's what it will look like when it's all "laminated:"
Place your bookmark on the cutting mat, and grab your ruler and exacto knife. Line up the ruler along the edge of the paper where you want to trim the tape. I like to get as close to the paper as possible, so it looks finished and you don't see a lot of tape.
Trim the excess tape off of all four edges using your exacto knife. In the photo below, you can see I trimmed the top side already, and that there's a very small amount of tape left over.
Once you trim the excess off, you'll end up with a pretty, laminated bookmark like this! Durable for years (ok maybe not years...we'll see) to come. :)
A couple of things to note:
1. This project is obviously not limited to bookmarks. You can laminate anything that'll fit the width of a piece of tape! The possibilities are endless (ha)! It would work really well for paper labels, for example. (I'm thinking I need to go back and laminate my pantry labels now, especially since they have the potential to get wet).
2. I know the tutorial looks a little labor-intensive, but it really only took about 20 minutes to do ten bookmarks once I got the hang of it. I've actually done three sets of ten now, and it wasn't that bad. Repetitive, but not bad.
Hope you can file this away for the future. Let me know if you have any questions!