Made from thousands of layers of folded paper, the flexible sculptures of artist Li Hongbo are fascinating, beautiful and difficult to describe — you have to see them to believe them.
They also sell for top dollar: Two paper re-creations of Michelangelo’s David sold for $32,000, according to a video report on Li’s work. Nice payday!
Curious about paper creations you can make and sell without spending years perfecting a new art form, as Li did? Fortunately there are simpler projects to try. Here are some of the many possibly profitable paper products you can make at home. Once you’ve found one that works for you, consider selling your crafts online or to local stores.
1. Paper Purses
2. Paper Flowers
Don’t believe paper flowers can be beautiful enough to sell? Look at Dana’s Paper Flowers on Etsy. Single blossoms start at $6 to $8 and bouquets can top $100.
But do they sell? The 540 positive customer reviews suggest they sell quite well. One perfect target market: couples looking for smart ways to save money on wedding expenses may decide to skip the fresh floral bouquet in favor of these lasting mementos.
This is another skill you can learn online from a free video tutorial. Get folding!
3. Paper Wallets
Customers can choose from a variety of designs from Paperwallet, and each wallet costs $17. They’re not made from ordinary paper, though. These wallets (they also sell clutches and card holders) are made from Tyvek, which is waterproof and tougher than regular paper.
If you like to experiment, you can probably find similar types of paper to make sturdy wallets.
4. Paper Jewelry
At this point you’re probably not surprised to learn that there is a lot of paper jewelry for sale, and once again, Etsy is the place to look for inspiration. Pendants, necklaces, bracelets — you can make just about anything from paper.
A pair of intricately folded paper earrings can sell for $35, and some paper bracelets sell for more than $40. And, as with almost everything on this list, you can learn the craft online. Just watch videos on making paper jewelry.
5. Paper Furniture
Making paper furniture is probably too involved and expensive to do at home, but we had to include it to show just how many things can be made out of paper.
Molo sells seating, room dividers, lamps and tables — all made from paper. You can also see an example of an expandable chair/couch made of paper at PaperSofa.com. And yes, you can actually sit on them! (No word on how comfortable the seat is, though.)
6. Paper Dresses
The first paper dress was a marketing and publicity tool invented by the Scott Paper Company in 1966. The company briefly sold the dresses for a dollar each. At the moment, one of them is for sale on eBay for $500. More modern paper dresses are advertised on eBay for $20 to $25.
You can also find paper dresses on Etsy.com, though these are mostly novelty items and wall-hangings. But there are a few that are meant to be worn, and current prices for those range from $60 to $750.
Paper dresses for children are more common, and a recent article on The Huffington Post included photos of a four year old modeling a dozen different designs.
7. Origami Art
Sellers on both eBay and Etsy offer origami creations, and this is another art form you can learn online. If you want really unique items to sell, try working with paper money. For example, at the Origami Resource Center you’ll find instructions for folding a dollar bill into a business shirt, shoes or an elephant.
Of course, once you get some experience, you may want to create more elaborate (and profitable) works. Some of origami artist Eric Josiel’s creations take two weeks to finish, according to The Telegraph. He sells them for up to 5,000 euros (about $6,300), and his smaller works go for as little as 300 euros. But his fellow Frenchmen don’t appreciate his artistry, he says, so most of what he sells goes to the United States and Japan.
8. Kite String Sliders
As far as this Internet researcher can determine, no one is selling kite string sliders online yet.
What’s a kite string slider? As a child, you may have folded a piece of paper around the string of your kite, then taped it into a cone. While your kite was high in the air, the paper cone would catch the wind and move steadily up the string to the kite. It’s entertaining, and there might be a market for a more efficient design made with more colorful paper. Could it be your new project?
Your Turn: What kinds of marketable crafts could you make from paper?