recycled milk bottle armchair – alternative furniture

You know how sometimes there’s an idea in your head you just can’t find the time to do, yet you just can’t let go of?
Well this armchair is one one those.
I’d wanted to make usable furniture out of cardboard, papier mache and other recycled materials for a long time. I had this vision in my head …and one day I decided it was time to make it reality by building it at work in one of my creative programs.
I work in day support for people with intellectual disabilities and am lucky enough to have some creative programs.

We began by using a pallet base for strength. We used milk bottles as the main building material, using tape and glue to create the shape we wanted.

Next we cut and folded thick cardboard around the bottles to give the chair smooth surfaces.

The chair is quite big and it took weeks and weeks to build. We did many, many layers of papier mache to hold it all together.

At one stage we even began to colour the glue so we could tell how many layers we’d done!

As the chair began to take shape we found we had to add more bottles in order to get the size we wanted. We used cardboard. milk bottles and shredded paper to create the curved arms.

Once the chair was ready for its final layer we swapped out newspaper for book pages. We added detail on the arms so it looked more like a ‘real’ armchair.

The pages were stained using a mix of coffee and tea.

After all the work to put the chair together, we ripped a hole into the back so you can see the milk bottle and shredded paper construction.

I mean, what’s the point of it if you can’t see what its made of?

A little surprise on the back with this cute mouse illustration.

There’s another ‘rip’ on the other side too, as if a cat’s had a go at the chair.

Or a mouse?

Lastly we coated it all with clear polyurethane for protection.
We made a seat cushion for it, recycling an old sofa cushion with a new, reversible cover. Castor wheels on the base make it easier to move around and finish it off.

We entered our armchair in Art From Trash, of course.

Its pretty comfy for a cardboard, milk bottle, papier mache chair!


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3 thoughts on “recycled milk bottle armchair – alternative furniture

  1. Many years ago, a hand full of people that I worked with would create milk carton boats to compete in the annual Aquatennial Milk Carton Boat Race. None of us were artists, but we made 2 different fantastic boats and entered them in the race. One year we made “the Little Engine That Could” and another year we made a large green dragon. Our “smoke” in the train was several inflated black balloons together to assimilate black, steam engine smoke and the fire breathing dragon got its “fire” from dry ice. The dragon was suppose to be “scary” according to the guys, but I put long curly eyelashes on it and changed the whole image. Heh. These were not small individual boats like most people make, ours carried up to 6 people and were in a category of their own. Great fun – the tough part was watching weeks of hard work crushed after the competition. (we also used plastic milk bottles along with the cartons and had all the people we worked with save them for weeks and weeks ahead of time – so it really did involve a lot of contributions and time and it was so much fun!) Ranee (MN)


  2. I got so far down memory lane I forgot to tell you how much I love the chair. Fabulous shape and design and I love the book pages, especially the sweet little surprise (mouse). Love it – love it – love it! Ranee


  3. Do you really call this work?!? I think you make money by playing and doing fun stuff!!! Love the mice! and the cat scratches! Looks like you are taking a nap after a bedtime story! Sweet dreams! Fonda


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