Handmade Stories – PageFree

Today we bring you a little something from a wonderful Etsy Seller Joelle of PageFree . Joelle does some awesome original art collages and household goods featuring upcycled paper!

We are a big fan of her aesthetic! Anyway, as always we love sharing something a little more from all the makers who get in touch. It’s always nice to know a little more…so here is kind of a direct message from Joelle to you all :)

Page Free

Hello Hunting Handmade fan!

My name is Joelle, and I am the artist behind PageFree, my Etsy shop for handmade household goods and everyday art. I operate PageFree from my one bedroom apartment in Chicago, and my biggest inspirations right now for my craft include city life, nature, and recycled paper.

If you’ve ever found yourself in that annoying yet exhilarating position where you’re lying awake at night, mind racing because you’re mentally planning color layouts and scheming about design concepts, you and I share a lot in common! I’ve been blessed and cursed as a night owl, often finding myself thinking up crazy crafting ideas when I should be counting sheep. It was due to multiple late night musings, tons of Etsy shop research, and a few friendly faces that I finally took the plunge to launch PageFree in April 2013, but the seeds were actually planted much earlier.



I grew up surrounded by the arts, both visual and performing, so it’s not surprising that I find myself in a day job at a theater with a side passion for handmade creations! While I loved sketching and drawing growing up, it wasn’t until right after high school that I was introduced to the concept of decoupage. A friend enlisted me to do a project with her, and I found a vintage remake night stand for $12 at the local thrift shop that needed some love. As luck would have it, I also happened to find a Vogue, fashion through the years, photo book on sale at Barnes and Noble for $1 – big score! Thus, my first decoupage project took shape, a vintage-like nightstand adorned in the best of 1940s and 50s iconic Vogue fashion.

Years have passed since that project (yes, I still have the nightstand), but along the way friends and family started to realize I had a passion for collecting discount photo books and ripping them apart, so I gathered quite the collection. I started to realize that unique art could be made from recycled items like this, not just from the on-sale photo books from Barnes and Noble, but from old magazine ads and worn out novels as well. This is the meaning behind my shop/brand name PageFree; to essentially free the “page” or paper from its original form and to create from it something new.



My work today is certainly far from traditional decoupage or collage style, but I still sometimes categorize it as such. All of my original artwork incorporates either ripped up magazine ads for their various colors, wallpaper samples, or cut outs from book page and magazine text. For example, on my art pieces that incorporate trees, the tree leaves are all made of tiny pieces of carefully color-selected paper scraps from magazines, as are the various scraps I rip apart for my collage heart wall art. Making something old new; it’s a satisfying practice and I’m happy to see more Etsy sellers and buyers embracing the Eco-friendly movement.

You’ll also see recycled wallpaper and book pages incorporated into my wood coasters and spoon sets. I’m constantly looking for new materials to play around with, but my favorite item to create right now are these wooden coaster sets. I like to work with fellow Etsy sellers who only sell wood rounds cut from fallen trees, or trees cleared for property development because I know they too are trying to reuse and recycle.

My biggest goal this year is to expand upon my coasters designs. Right now, I have city designs for Chicago (my current home), New York (the city I met my fiance), and Colorado (where I’m from). It’s time to expand upon that, and next up is Boston! In an effort to make my art even more accessible to buyers, I have also started to make my own cards and art prints from my home studio (aka the desk in my living room that houses my printer, paints and other assorted craft makings). Otherwise, I truly hope to expand my reach and do more craft fairs around Chicago this summer!

For me, making art and handmade goods is all about the creative challenge of trying new things, and remembering to smile with each new challenge along the way.

You can check out PageFree on the following platforms:

Etsy: http://pagefree.etsy.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/pagefreeart

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pagefreeart

Instagram: http://instagram.com/pagefree