Trying not to add plastic to the world means not buying it in the first place. I needed a place on my art desk to keep my brushes, pencils, and knitting needles. Might as well keep all the long, sharp things in one place.
You can use mailing tubes. I f you choose paper towel cores, you will have to cover them with maps or grocery bags to make them sturdy enough. The round shape can also be a used tennis ball. Go for a different shape entirely by recycling crushed aluminum foil or a plastic pudding container.
Measure the length of all the items that are going in the holder. In my group of items to store there was a short group (pencils) a medium group (sumi-e brushes) and a tall group (knitting needles and that long sumi-e brush). I made a mark on one of the tubes so I could make two cuts, one from each end. That gave me a machine-cut perfectly flat end to glue down and the cut end I’d make, not so perfect, to face up.
Cut the tube so you can throw out the middle section. It will have two hand-cut ends, and in my case, they were not perfectly even, so they’d wobble if I tried to glue them down. I used the flat end as the glue point.
Use a hand saw to make the cuts. I used a heavy serrated bread knife, because my tools aren’t here. Don’t use anything with an electric blade, it will build up heat and could set the cardboard tube on fire.
Paint the tubes if you prefer. I like the natural look and feel of plain cardboard.
Arrange the tubes into a pattern that will let you remove what you need without knocking over other items.
Glue the tubes to each other first. I added a dried gourd, cut and painted white, that I had left over from another project. This gives the arrangement an organic shape.
Glue again. When the tubes are no longer in danger of slipping apart, put glue on the bottom of each of the tubes and glue the entire piece to a larger piece of cardboard. This will give the whole piece more stability.
Place pencils, pens, knitting needles in place. I topped it with a few long stems of dried flowers. You can put it on your desk with a heavy article such as a few books or a pencil sharpener standing on the cardboard for additional stability.
Images: Quinn McDonald (c) 2008 QuinnCreative. com