How to make a super simple and adorable upcycled pencil cup

Today we’re going to learn how to upcycle a super-awesome personalized pencil cup from a cracked (or simply ugly!) glass, mug, plastic cup or other container! It’s super easy to make and all you need is colored tissue paper, Mod Podge, a paintbrush, scissors and some kind of container to repurpose. Get ready to help your planet, your wallet, and your desk-organization!

First, let’s figure out what this weird term “upcycle” means. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, to upcycle is “to create an object of greater value from (a discarded object of lesser value).” In other words, you take something that you don’t want or can’t use anymore (like a cracked or ugly glass) and make it into something useful. Upcycling generally helps the planet more than recycling. Let’s take the example of a leaky plastic cup. When you recycle that cup, it goes to a recycling plant, which uses a lot of energy and water to break the cup down and recycle it into something new. Upcycling, on the other hand, reuses the cup much more efficiently. Not to say recycling isn’t great and really important—always recycle, guys!



  • Small or medium-sized paint brush
  • 4FL OZ bottle of matte Pod Podge (you can get gloss Pod Podge instead if you prefer a shiny finish) Bonus green-crafting points if you make your own Mod Podge from materials you probably have in your kitchen! See this link:
  • Cracked (not completely broken—we need this to be able to hold together) or ugly glass, mug, plastic cup or other container suitable for holding pencils
  • Scissors
  • Colored tissue paper (pick the colors you want to use)
  • OPTIONAL: Small bottle of acrylic paint in color of your choice (this will make sure your tissue paper sticks to your container well and will make sure you have a solid background color for your translucent tissue paper to go over—without this basecoat, patterns on a cup could show through)
  • OPTIONAL: Matte or gloss clear acrylic sealer (this protects your new pencil cup from damage)




  1. Put your glass onto its side on top of a sheet of tissue paper (this will be your base tissue paper color).
  2. Mark the edge of your paper at the top and bottom of your cup.
  3. Pick up your cup and snuggly wrap the tissue paper around it. Mark how much tissue paper you need to completely cover around the cup.
  4. Use your marks to cut out the tissue paper you need to cover the cup. Make sure you leave 1-2 extra inches of paper to go into the top of the cup and to account for any miscalculations in your measurements. Don’t worry about being super-precise here. We’re going to form the tissue paper around the cup and cut off excess paper later. It’s always better to have too much than too little paper!
  5. OPTIONAL: Coat entire glass (inside and out) with acrylic paint of your color-choice. You may have to do several coats to completely cover the glass. Wait for the paint to DRY COMPLETELY before moving on.


  1. Paint a stipe of Mod Podge down the full length of your glass.
  2. Stick the edge of your cutout tissue paper to the stripe of Mod Podge. Make sure your tissue paper is facing the right way!
  3. Paint another stripe next to where you just stuck down your paper and stick down the next section of paper.
  4. Continue to do this until you cover your entire glass with your base tissue paper.
  5. It may be difficult to get the paper to form to the shape of your cup. If so, add more Mod Podge and keep working the paper into the desired placement. Mod Podging isn’t an exact science, just keep at it!

***Don’t worry if the paper wrinkles or even rips—this is part of the charm of Mod Podging with tissue paper! ***


  1. Cut out some designs in your other colors of tissue paper: get creative! Design ideas include flowers, stars, polka dots, stripes, or anything else you can imagine!
  2. Pick a design to stick on and use your Mod Podge to paint about the same shape of the design on your glass wherever you wish to place the design.
  3. Stick the design down on the spot you just painted.
  4. Continue placing designs until your cup looks beautiful!


  1. Congratulations! You’ve made an unusable glass into a pencil cup!
  2. To finish your cup, cover your entire cup in Mod Podge one more time. Make sure all the tissue paper is flush with the cup and doesn’t look like it may peal off. This may take several coats.
  3. Let it dry (at least over night) and enjoy the splendor of your creation! And give yourself a pat on the back for upcycling a glass and saving the planet too!
  4. OPTIONAL: Seal your cup with acrylic sealer after the Mod Podge dries. Follow the directions on the back of your can.

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  • Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Photo credits:


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Carolyn Butler says:

    Looks great!

  2. Dan says:

    Totally cool. Thanks for showing this.

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