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Cute Animal Paperweights From Waste Sawdust: Crafts for Kids

My son and I made these cute animal paperweight crafts together.

These animal-shaped paperweights are made of clay and sawdust

These animal-shaped paperweights are made of clay and sawdust

DIY Paperweights

A paperweight is a small desk accessory that helps keep loose papers in place. This can be especially helpful when a fan is in use.

Some paperweights are really beautiful and can be considered works of art. Some of these paperweights may be very expensive, as well. However, many people may improvise and use found objects for their paperweights. If one visits a typical Indian government office where a lot of paperwork is done (for example, a railway office, a post office or a site office of a construction project), one might see officials using broken pieces of brick or stones, a broken lock or anything that is readily available.

In this article, I will show you how to make very strong paperweights that are not only beautiful but also easy to make with waste products and commonly available materials. We made these cute animal paperweights from a mix of waste sawdust, ordinary garden clay and carpenter adhesive.

Materials Needed

We need only three basic raw materials for this craft project:

  • Sawdust: One may collect a bag full of sawdust from a carpenter’s workshop. Alternatively, one may use rice bran or dry grasses cut into small pieces or anything that is lightweight, fibrous and safe to use. We can also use torn or finely cut cloth pieces collected from a tailor’s shop. I would prefer sawdust or rice bran for the texture I get when the work is done.
  • Garden clay: Just use one-fourth of the volume of the sawdust. The purpose is to give the paperweights an earthen look. Using more clay would make the paperweights too heavy and brittle.
  • Carpenter's adhesive: This will bind the sawdust with the clay tightly and make the product strong and hardy. My paperweights are so strong that even if they fall down from the table they do not get damaged. Some typical brands of carpenters adhesive we get in India are Favicol, Vamicol and so on. These are white-colored adhesives that become transparent when dried so that the original color of the sawdust and clay do not get affected.
The pig paperweight needed support when drying

The pig paperweight needed support when drying

The tortoise paperweight drying on a piece of waste paper to prevent sticking to surfaces

The tortoise paperweight drying on a piece of waste paper to prevent sticking to surfaces

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Frog paperweight drying

Frog paperweight drying


The process is so simple that even a five-year-old can make these!

  1. Soak the sawdust with water and drain properly. This is done to reduce the amount of adhesive required for the purpose and to make it easier to handle the mix of clay and adhesive conveniently. In order to drain the wet sawdust properly, just soak it with water and keep the soaked sawdust on a piece of newspaper for 10 minutes. The excess water will drain away or be absorbed properly in the sawdust.
  2. In a small container or bowl, mix the clay with the sawdust and some adhesive. Do not add too much adhesive as it may create difficulties while making the paperweights. Make a semi-solid mix. In order to test if the mix is properly done, try to make a ball and hold it on your palm. If the ball breaks apart, it is too dry and you add some more adhesive. If the ball becomes flat, it is probably too watery. Add some more soil and sawdust.
  3. Once the mixture is ready for use, wash your hands carefully. Then take some cooking oil and apply it on your hands to make your hands oily. Oily hands will not stick to the mix and the work will be easier. But oil is not a necessary ingredient.
  4. Take some of the mix in your hands and shape it into the animal of your choice. Allow the animal to dry on a piece of dry paper or newspaper. It may take 2-3 days to fully dry. Sunlight is ok for drying.

How to Make a Pig?

  1. Make a bigger cylinder for the tummy.
  2. Make two nostrils on the narrower end of the cylinder. In order to make these nostrils, I just oiled the back of a pen and pressed two holes on the narrow end of the cylinder.
  3. Make four smaller cylinders for the legs and fix those to the tummy part.
  4. When drying, keep the legs up. Once dry, the pig was able to stand on his legs. The video below shows the comprehensive process.

Fun and Useful Craft Project

All of the paperweights we made look fantastic, and it was so fun to make them with my son. My husband uses one of these in his office, and we have gifted a couple of them to our friends. Many people have asked us about the paperweights, and people are surprised by strong they are.

If you try to make one, let me know how it comes out. Please share your views in the comments section below.

Video: Animal Paperweights

Finished pig paperweight

Finished pig paperweight

Our paperweight collection

Our paperweight collection


Hariom from INDIA (Haryana) SAMPLA on May 02, 2013:

Good hub with detail information.