About

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My name is Bel Mills, and I'm an artist, teacher, and avid upcycler. Since 2016 I've been making one-of-a-kind books and journals out of ordinary and second-hand paper and teaching students to do the same.

My Philosophy

So what's "upcycling?" It's the transformation of a disposable item into something permanent and beautiful. In my case, I love finding paper products at home, or in second-hand stores, and figuring out how to make them into books. My favorite supplies are envelopes, cardboard boxes, paper sacks and file folders. .

All my classes follow this same philosophy. My students quickly realize they are surrounded by bookmaking supplies if they know where to look. This approach frees them from worry and allows them to experiment without the fear of "ruining" precious materials. It also infuses bookmaking with a feeling of possibility, whimsy and delight. Students leave the classes with clever, personalized journals that were fun to make and are a joy to use.

How I Got Started

The seed for Scrap Paper Circus was planted in 2015 when, after 10 years at home parenting, I began taking book arts classes at our local university. I remember being fascinated by the Fluxus artists of the 1960s and 70s who started making books out of inexpensive, found materials like envelopes, magazine clippings, and photocopies.

 

I began experimenting with found paper and classic bookbinding techniques and was encouraged to continue when a professor purchased one of my original upcycled designs. A bit later, another instructor asked if I would take over her teaching post at a nearby art center. My Etsy shop opened in 2017.

Scrap Paper Circus is located in the basement of my home outside Washington DC where I live with my husband, our sons and our beautiful mutt, Dora.

Thanks for visiting!  

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