Turning newspaper back to wood

Developed by Dutch designer Mieke Meijer, NewspaperWood opens and closes the wood to paper loop.

Developed by Dutch designer Mieke MeijerNewspaperWood takes paper and returns it to wood.

NewspaperWood is made by coating individual sheets of old newspaper with glue and then tightly rolling the glued sheets into logs. The glue used is solvent and plasticizers-free. The material can be treated like most other wood products by cutting, milling, sanding, and finishing with paint or varnish. When cut into planks, the layers of paper reveal wood grain-like patterns of ink. Sanding the material roughens up the fibers of the newspapers and provides a soft texture that can be left unfinished.

The design line Vij5 offers a collection of seven products using NewspaperWood ranging from small jewelry to furniture pieces on their site. Although Meijer originally hand produced the planks, she and Vij5 designed a custom machine for larger scale production.

There are limitations to the material and its use in larger applications. The planks are limited in size to the width of an open newspaper so larger sizes are only available as veneers. The strength of the material is based on the strength of the glue, which limits using NewspaperWood as a structural component. A non-organic adhesive would increase strength but then the material would not be biodegradable. A sadder consideration is that newspapers are not as popular a format for reading and Meijer is aware that her raw material of choice might disappear.

Meijer says NewspaperWood is not meant as a large scale alternative to wood or as a catch-all solution for paper waste. Instead, she wants to show that a material surplus can be made into something more valuable, a concept she calls upcycling.

For now, there is a considerable amount of unsold and old newspapers available, and there are worse things that can happen to yesterday's news.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com