A DIY Desk Blotter for the Dorm Room

  • 01 of 07

    A DIY Desk Blotter for the Dorm

    A desk blotter
    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Outfitting that new dorm room with some stylish, DIY desk supplies adds a little color, as well as practicality. And a fabulous, custom-made desk blotter is less likely to be buried under typical dorm debris - wet towels, dirty dishes, stinky socks and towering stacks of books and papers. It designates an "I work here" space. And this particular version is so easy to do, and so easy to change out, drips and drops can be dealt with later.

    So first, let's go over what you'll need,...MORE and how to do it, and follow that up with a quick gallery of ideas...

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  • 02 of 07

    DIY Desk Blotter: Supplies

    Desk blotter supplies
    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Here's what you'll need for this project:

    • A 20"x15" sheet of thin foam core or heavy cardboard, for the base
    • Two 2.25"x15" pieces of thin foam core or heavy cardboard, or two 10"x15" pieces of posterboard, scored every 2.25" and folded accordion-style to those dimensions, for the ends​
    • Several large sheets of heavy duty wrapping or art paper​
    • Any decorative or graphic elements you'd like to incorporate, like these vintage typewriter key graphics, for example​
    • An...MORE exacto knife, a ruler and clear duct tape
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  • 03 of 07

    DIY Desk Blotter: Making the Base

    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    This DIY desk blotter consists of a sturdy base and two ends, and a sheet of blotter paper which slides into the top. Decades ago, "blotter paper" served an actual purpose - it was a thick, absorbent sheet that kept ink off desks and provided a more pleasing writing surface for pens. Now, we use the term to describe the easily inserted (and removed) decorative paper that lines a desk blotter, but it can be art paper, a map, a poster, a collage or wrapping paper.

    The base: Cut a sheet of...MORE art paper into a 20" square. Wrap it around the foam core so it covers the base and wraps around the top and bottom, securing it with duct tape on the back, where it won't show.

    The ends: Using the same type of paper, cut two more pieces that are 5.5"x20". Score a line down the entire length half an inch from one edge, and 2.5" from the other. (You can use a ballpoint pen to do this - just press hard and run the pen along the line on the wrong side of the paper.) Scoring the paper makes it easier to make a nice, crisp fold. Fold the edges in. Measure 2.5" from the end of each length and score that too. Repeat with the second piece.

    Take one of your narrow pieces of foam core or heavy cardboard (trimmed to 2.5"x15") and place it on an end paper. Fold the half-inch piece around one long edge, and secure it with a long strip of clear duct tape.


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  • 04 of 07

    DIY Desk Blotter: Putting it Together

    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Finishing the base: Take the top piece and the two end pieces - A and B. Place the "A piece" at one end of the base, so the edges line up and the wrapped edge is on top, facing inward. Wrap the loose paper edge around the back, hold it snugly and flip it over. Use duct tape to secure that loose edge on the back. Pull the ends of piece A over the top, and tape them into place too. Repeat with piece B.

    Adding pizazz: Pick your insert paper - a contrasting color art paper, wrapping paper, a...MORE map or collage. Trim it into a 19"x15" rectangle (or 19"x14.5" if you'd like a little hint of the background paper to peek out), and slide it into the blotter, so the ends are secured by the end pieces.

    Need ideas for that centerpiece? Read on...

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  • 05 of 07

    Variations on the DIY Desk Blotter: Vintage Typewriter

    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Have fun with your desk blotter by varying the filler paper. Go a little retro with vintage typewriter keys, for example. Here, a photograph of a vintage typewriter keyboard was blown up and printed on matte paper, then the keys were cut out and glued onto a dark gray background.

    Or add some campus flair by ...

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  • 06 of 07

    Variations on the DIY Desk Blotter: College Spirit

    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Use a campus map or college logo to adorn your blotter.


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  • 07 of 07

    Variations on the DIY Desk Blotter: Whimsical Dots

    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Or use wrapping paper or printed art paper to coordinate the blotter with other desk supplies or room decor.